Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Strength training

I have been getting to the pool early at 5:15 M W F for the last two months to do strength training. Before practice starts at 5:45 I get in as much strength training as I can. This has consisted of shoulder stabilization exercises, crunches on the ball, triceps, bicepts, lats (when my shoulders are okay), stroking with cords, fly on the ball... and when I have time leg curls and quads. I have mostly been focusing on the cord work but now that I have got a routine down I want to "kick it up a notch". In a word...


Time to work on explosive power and speed off the blocks and turns.

Plyometrics is practiced most often by runners but has become popular with swimmers too. The evidence for it significantly improving swim times is mixed. Dara Torres made a name for resistence stretching, but since I don't have a cadre of private stretchers and massage therapists I am going to try the plyometrics.

One of the most common plyometric exercises for swimmers involves jumping onto a wooden box while throwing a medicine ball up in the air. Other variations include jump squats (again with the medicine ball), dumbell squat jumps, and box jumps without the ball (see Swimming World, 12/09).

The other resources I will use as I plot my training regimen include the new book Swimming Anatomy (which is being heavily marketed to swimmers this holiday season) and Dr. Chu's website which has a good (albeit too long) plan already laid out.

Given that I don't think I'll get that much faster on technique alone and that all my competition seems to be taller and stronger than me already, it is time to get serious about strength!

Monday, November 23, 2009

National ranking!!

I was thrilled to discover last week that I have made the 35-39 AG Top 10 national times for 2009 in two events.

I am #9 in the 50 yards fly (27.8) and #9 in the 100 yards fly (1:02.53).

Now I may never have a national record or even a New England record, but if I can keep a national ranking year to year in at least one event I'll be plenty happy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Greater Portland Swimmers Riverton SCM Meet Report

Son and Simon after tying in the 200 breaststroke at 2:47.90 (Photo by Cheryl Daly)

Great meet to shake off the nerves and get used to 25 meters, which I have concluded is decidedly more difficult than 25 yards.

This was a small meet with about 30-35 Maine Masters (MESC) in attendance. That being said, people traveled from as far away as Rockland, New Hampshire and Connecticut to swim. We had national record holders in attendance and swimmers of all ages. Basically a typical MESC meet!

I had a little extra challenge to my focus and concentration this day though. As my husband was sick, my choice was not go to the meet OR bring all three cherubs along with me (ages 8, 6 and 4). My kids are always up for an adventure, so we packed up our backpacks with all manner of sundry play items and headed out at 9:30.

First up was a great swim clinic led by Mike Schmidt, President of MESC and Facebook phobe. In spite of that fact, he's a damn fast swimmer and had some interesting thoughts on flipturns. I've been following Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's advice on turns and practicing her "weapons of destruction" by not curling up too tight and putting my feet shoulder width apart on the wall for a more stable push off. Mike suggested curling up a bit more compactly and keeping one's hands closer to the head. I am going to have to play around with this technique I think.

Doug Pride, the other leader of the clinic, is well known for his ability to swim more than 1/2 way down the pool underwater in fly events. At this meet I had the fortunate/unfortunate experience of swimming next to him for the 100 meter fly which he finished in 58 seconds -- I on the other hand finished in a very painful 1:12 with a most pathetic third turn and last 5 meters. Anywho... Doug made the astute observation that my legs are way apart on my entry off the blocks ... another thing to work on.

As for the events, I felt I did okay besides the fly fiasco. Never ever have I experienced such pain and exhaustion swimming. I could barely get my arms out of the water for that last 5 meters. I have newfound respect for all the 200 flyers out there.

100 meter free was next after about 10 minutes rest. 1:05 ... got a second wind on the last 25 meters and decided I had to beat the 60 year old guy next to me. I hope I am swimming that fast at 60!

50 meter fly... just not feeling it today in the fly but did okay with 32.17. Son was right there behind me at 33

50 free ... my son came up just as I stepped on the block saying "Mommy, mommy". Ummm not now son. Within 3 seconds the horn went off. 30.06 Later he told me he just wanted to tell me he'd cheer for me. So cute!

After I finished I let the kids get in the warm down lane and splash around. They had a ball.
This day made me truly appreciative of my kids who did such as great job entertaining themselves all day and all my teammates who didn't bat an eye with 3 kids running around and pitched in to help entertain them (thanks Jim and Roxy!)

By the time we showered and congratulated the 1650 competitiors it was 3:30. We were all exhausted and celebrated with a special dinner out in a yummy and cozy gourmet pizza place. Great finish to a memorable day. In bed by 6:30 ... got to love that!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Which wetsuit?

Well I am sad to tell everyone out there the truth....

Don't buy an ORCA wetsuit.

I have now had 2 that have failed due to design flaws.
The first one -- an ORCA Evo -- ripped at the neck after 1 month of wear.
They honored the warranty and replaced it with an ORCA Sonar.
Although I have owned it for 2 years I have only worn it for 6 months (summers are short here in Maine).

After those 6 months of wear the painted shoulders cracked right through the neoprene, leaving the suit with over a dozen tears. Now mind you I wash it after every wear with fresh water. I dry it inside out first and then right side out lying flat. All winter I store it flat in a temperate clean area. I take good care of it, ya know?

ORCA however has decided that since I am outside the 1 year warranty period that they will not replace it.
No matter that other people I know that have had the same ORCA model and only worn it for one season have had the same issue.

So I need some help.

What is best wetsuit for me?
I want something I can both train in and race in.
It needs to be able to handle lots of wear and can't be too fussy.
But it should be fast.
It needs to keep me warm in 57 degree Maine water.
It also has to fit a petite 5'5" frame.

I have been suggested to take a look at the B70 Helix or Synergie and some of the 2XU Comp ... but can't try them on as the local shop is out of stock in my size.

So what do you think? Ideas please.....