Journey to Olympic Trials: Take a Look At Me Now

Commentary by Jeff Commings, SwimmingWorld.TV associate producer

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 16. TODAY was the hardest workout EVER!

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. A little bit. I have done some very difficult workouts in my 30-plus years in swimming, but very few of them had me wishing I had a third lung to help me get through it. Plus, I have never seen two people throw up into a garbage can in the middle of workout. I saw that happen today.

It wasn't a completely difficult workout with the Phoenix Swim Club's elite group from start to finish. Just the main set, which had us sprinting for 600 yards with next to no warm down between rounds. I built up so much lactic acid during the first of the five rounds of fast swimming, and I never fully got rid of it. That is the essence of lactate day at Phoenix Swim Club, and though it's very tough, I know it will pay off in the end. The pain I'll feel in the last 15 meters of my 100 breast will be NOTHING compared to the pain I felt for 45 minutes today.

The set called for a lot of swimming on the Power Tower, plus a few running dives and more fast swimming. Three of the five rounds only had 100 yards of fast swimming, but the entire 100 was at all-out pace, no building to the last 25. The other two rounds had 150 yards of fast swimming, and I think those were harder than the other rounds.

During the main set, Coach Tako was doing some underwater filming, and after the workout, most of the swimmers gathered around a monitor to watch our strokes. I was still warming down while they were watching, but I got to see some of my swimming. A few people remarked on my “interesting” freestyle kick, which consists of a whip kick, a flutter kick and a scissors kick. It used to be much worse.

But on the video, Coley Stickels and I got to take a look at my breaststroke pullout. He discovered that I am bringing my hands too far under my body on the insweep. My thinking behind that was to simulate a butterfly pull, but he believes I could be better by keeping my hands outside my body line. I'll have to try that in tomorrow's workout.

Ugh. Tomorrow morning. I don't know how much I'll have to give for Mark Rankin. I gave everything I had to Coley tonight. Thursday morning with the Phoenix Swim Club Masters team is very much like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get!

When I got home tonight, I drank about 24 ounces of my P2Life Nutriboost shake, and I'm going to probably have a bit more before I go to bed, to help with the recovery process. I'm glad I didn't drink any before workout. You might have seen some of it in the garbage can on deck.

Jeff Commings, a former member of the USA Swimming national team, is putting his 38-year-old body through all this tough training in preparation for the U.S. Olympic Trials, where he will be the second-oldest competitor in the 100 breaststroke. You can follow his daily blog at

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