Friday, February 02, 2007

Hard Way or Easy Way

If you want to be in the top 3 of certain sporting events you can do it the hard way or the easy way. Sorry, there is no easy way to win a medal in cycling or running. But there is an easy way in Swimming.

To illustrate the hard way for swimming lets make up a hypothetical athlete we will call Joe L.We will make Joe get up at 4:45 am to make it to 5:30 practice with the Dolphins at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. Joe must swim in lanes 6 or 7 and swim the entire practice – preferably over 4000 metres. Joe doesn’t necessarily have to have proper technique, or listen to what the coach tells him, (and believe me – he doesn’t) but he must be willing to work very hard and not goof off too much. No Chatting! 10 seconds rest - Push off that wall!

Joe signs up for some National Swim meet in Ontario or Quebec(a 5 hour air flight away) and enter events such as the 400 Free. Everybody signs up for Freestyle – there is so much competition. To win an event like that you have to swim it in 5:01 – that’s 1:15 per 100. I can’t even do that for one 100. Shorter distances are really competitive too. Joe has to swim a 50 Backstroke in under 35 seconds to get first place. That’s pretty fast for an old guy. But it takes a lot of practice to get that fast.

The easy way is to be selective in your swim meet and pick your races. Another hypothetical athlete named Brian is a mediocre Masters swimmer who would prefer to stand at the edge of the pool and chat instead of doing the workout (and that’s what he does). Too bad there’s no medal for most congenial swimmer. Anyway if Brian wants a medal he will have to attend some Masters swim practices – at least once a week. If he goes to Provincials (and anybody can go to Provincials – there are no qualifying races) he will sign up for the events that no one likes doing (and have fewer than 3 people in the event thus guaranteeing a medal) such as 1500 free. Who wants to spend their Friday night at some swim meet doing a 1500 free? Not many people – Brian would probably swim at 1:30 per hundred and it would take him about 23 minutes. Even swimming at 1:40 per hundred would only take him 25 minutes and he would still win a third place medal!

Other good events (good in this case meaning unpopular) are 200 Backstroke and 200 Butterfly. Usually not too many people enter these ones because they are a bit longer. Of course you will be completely out of breath and in pain doing a 200 but it’s only for a few minutes. The last 25 metres is a real battle and I admit I haven’t finished every 200 Buttefly event I’ve entered. If I’m standing up in the pool before finishing the race that means I give up. Very discouraging to go 175 metres of butterfly and not finish – so the lazy swimmer must somehow balance being lazy with going to at least a few swim practices.

DO NOT enter races that are 50 Metres or 100 Metres; too popular an event=too much competition and no chance at a medal!! Remember the point of this article is to help lazy and/or mediocre athletes win medals.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Not This Year

I just don't have it in me to train for Ultraman Canada this year. Gerard sent me an email telling me that they need two more participants to make Ultraman happen this year and encouraging me to sign up. It's a great event and I find it amazing that more Ironmen don't participate. Last year they only had 12 people and 16 the year before when Gerard won.
I don't really know why an Ironman would be apprehensive about signing up. It's just a little bit more training and since many Ironmen are obsessive type A's I don't see that being a problem and it only costs a little bit more. Maybe the 10 km swim scares them off.
I will sign up one day, but not this year. I haven't even signed up for the Vancouver Marathon yet! I think I need a kick in the butt.