Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Someboby Beat Me

21 years. My high school swimming records have now stood for 21 years completely untouched and unthreatened. My name on the record board at the high school swimming pool is yellow on a board of blue and white.

1:02:21 - 100 yard breastroke (I know...not blistering fast but in 2008 still gets you in the IL state finals so it must be ok. This morning I did 2 x 100 breastroke on 2:00 and did 1:09 and a 1:07 from a push....yeah, still got it. For the record, that is probably faster than my freestyle right now.) 200 IM 2:01.00 - something for consistancy I guess. This morning...also from a push...2:18 and 2:16. Now, if I can only convince USAT and WTC that breastroke and IM should be the swim portion of a triathlon I'd really have something. In college I went 57.74 100 breast, 2:05.65 200 breast (1:05.74 100m/2:09.24 200m -yes...I went faster on my 200m than in my 100m - thank you for noticing...!) 200 IM 1:58 and 400 IM 4:03 - 6th in the conference and got my ass handed to me by the guy who was 4th in the Olympics; speed is perspective. While I was happy with a 4:03...he was disgusted at a 3:49.

In order to not sound like the 1972 Miami Dolphins...I WANT somebody to beat my records. This would mean that the program has competitive swimmers in it who are busting their ass and having some levels of success. I would love to be in the pool area and see my record come down like the Berlin Wall. I think it would be an honor.

My times got me to state and in breastroke - a chance at the finals. (Tied in a 'swim off' and lost the coin flip.) The times back then were much faster and deeper in numbers than they are today (in the Sectional Championship I was 2nd to the reigning state champ - he touched me out by .02 - the rest of the top six all qualified for state - they were about .50 seconds behind me and Brock (the state champ) and still about 1 second below the time standard.)

According to the high school and club coaches I keep in touch with (and occasionally catch a beating from) the "kids" today don't want to swim the yardage that we did in the 1980s and 1990s. I know in high school I did 3,500 to 4,200 in the morning and then 6,500 to 8,500 at night during the week, weights 3x a week and 10,000 yards on Saturdays. During Christmas break - 10,000 every day for 10 days and weights every other day. In college swimming, those numbers are childs play. We were up around 15,000 yards a day and around 20,000 on weekends. My least favorite "warm up set" 20 x 200 on 2:15 hold them all 2:00 or better. Then right into 10 x 400 IM on 5 followed by 100s in each stroke. I am amazed I graduated really...I must have been completely brain dead in college.

Back then we lifted rocks and trees because weights weren't invented yet. Every day I had to out bike terradactyl and out run the occasional T-Rex to the pool before we were eaten. We lost a lot of top swimmers that way. In the summer, we swam long course meters (my favorite). The team we had was a virtual all-star team and I was just one of the boys. For example, in "specialty" lanes (breastroke) we had 12 of the top 16 breastroke swimmers in IL. Try to have a bad workout with your competition right next to you every friggin' day! Most of us swam breastroke in the Olympic Trials and one of us swam in the 1996 Olympic Finals - he was 8th - swam for Egypt. We kicked three IL state champions off the team for breaking team rules and still won the state championship by a record margin. The women's team was equally as "sick". A lot of gals on that team have won NCAA championships and a few gold medals from other Olympics and other major competitions. Nobody slacked off one split second.

I bring this up because I am disappointed with the work effort in younger swimmers/athletes. When you tell athletes what it takes to be great they question how long they need to do it. I recently was accused of giving "garbage miles" workouts. I was pretty pissed off by that comment as this person needs the mileage to get fit. Training one or two hours a day won't get you to Kona. Hell, I was doing 4-6 hours a day during the week and 8-10 and still missed Kona qualifying by one or two places. 20 x 100 on 1:30 holdiing 1:05 is a set I aspire to do again. It is not fun. It hurts. It sucks. It is what it takes to be fast in the water; to hold a fast interval - your red line for 20+ minutes.

What it Takes
1) You have to be a little nuts. First in, last out. Every day for at least eight months on end to have a decent Ironman.
2) Swim a lot...I hear people saying they swam "Three times this week"...gee, a whole three times? I dare not ask how much they swam - probably 1650 or 2000 yards. Hey! That's the warm up of the fast people!!
3) Bike a lot...It is hard to maintain 23 mph for 112 miles if you can't do better than that in a 1-4 hour session.
4) Weights and stretchning - mandatory.
5) "Sleep fast!" - what I say every night as they close the doors to the gym behind me at 10:00 pm. I'll be back at 5:45 am.

I know what it takes to be a great athlete. I see it daily in the form of Dean, Matt, Jen, Liz, Angie etc. There is one four letter; that they all have in common. Can you imagine what we could all do as triathletes if we lived in the same communities? WOW! It happens virtually I suppose but imagine if every day you were going to workout with the best in the sport regionally?

So I ask you, high school swimmer...somebody beat me. You know what it takes. Now do it.


  1. Really great post. Loved it! As an athlete who just made a coaching switch (working with Jen now - hurrah!) one of the many reasons why I did it was because I didnm't feel challenged enough. It takes hard work, dedication, and like you said - being a little nuts.

    Loved the post! Thanks for sharing...

    And your swim times - ROCK! The swim workouts sound awesome! Man oh man, times like this I wished I was up in Chicago...

  2. Hi Marit - good on you for changing. I left my coach (my first tri coach ever) because he wasn't paying attention to my workouts and goals - again - no challenge. Jen is a great coach! She'll help you get after your goals for sure.

    You'd want to be in Chicago if you didn't have to go out right now...I think it is 4 F which feels warm to me. (scary)

  3. Hey BOB! Yeah, it is TOUGH to see the records fall...but you are SO right...they always do (and you get a memo about it, haha!)...but, I agree...I just want to live in a community where we can ALL train together, live together and socialize together -- with some 'normal' people thrown into the mix! HAHA :)) Keep on swimming! Grrrrr! Jen H.