PHOENIX, Arizona, August 15. LESLIE Livingston joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show to talk about setting her first long course Masters world record and how she trained to achieve that milestone.
Livingston is a sprint specialist, and she talks about working every day on her underwater dolphin kick for her backstroke, and why other Masters swimmers can be as proficient as she is. She also talks about the elite swimmer she most admires and what lies ahead for her. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
Special Thanks to Finis for sponsoring the Morning Swim Show's interview segments in the Finis Monitor. Visit Finis to learn more about their innovative products for aquatic athletes.
Show Transcript: (Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)
Peter Busch: This is the Morning Swim Show for Monday, August 15th, 2011 and I'm your host Peter Busch in FINIS monitor today. We will talk to Leslie Livingston. She is the new 50 backstroke world record holder in the 50 to 54 master's age group. Leslie joins us right now in the FINIS monitor from Vienna Virginia. Hey Leslie welcome to the show, how are you?
Leslie Livingston: Hi Peter. Thanks for having me on today.
Peter Busch: Vienna, Virginia … right outside DC right?
Leslie Livingston: Yes right outside DC.
Peter Busch: Well congratulations on your world record.
Leslie Livingston: Thanks I was really thrilled.
Peter Busch: Now it is your first long course world record, correct but not your first short course?
Leslie Livingston: Right my it is my first long course world record and I set 3 short course world records back in March.
Peter Busch: And that is because I hear you are quite the speedster underwater, which you know we don't hear about as often with Masters swimmer.
Leslie Livingston: No, that is right, when I started masters actually I had a lot of shoulder troubles for a couple of years now I started kicking more and I decided to really focus on the underwater dolphin kick and it made me much faster and it is a weapon some of my competitors don't have so I'm really happy I went that way.
Peter Busch: Is there— were you a great underwater dolphin kicker in the past as well?
Leslie Livingston: No, you know I was an age group swimmer. We never really did that. We never dolphin kicked underwater, we just you know started flutter kicking by the way so yeah this is all new for me.
Peter Busch: Think of the missed opportunities.
Leslie Livingston: I know. It is so true.
Peter Busch: Well better late than never to find that hidden talent.
Leslie Livingston: Yeah.
Peter Busch: So do you think more people could, more people swimming masters could use that as a weapon or do you really feel like you were just naturally talented as it just never really realized it?
Leslie Livingston: I definitely think that more masters could use it than do currently, but I hear a lot of masters say, "Oh I'm never good at it" and then they don't train it. I mean you got to train splint dolphin kick if you want to improve underwater. You can't just talk about it, you have to actually do it every single practice, do speed sets. They are just kicking in the like so I think more people could do it than do. On the other hand you do have to have you know good core strength. If you have a bad back that would probably interfere with the dolphin kicking.
Peter Busch: So what kind of training, you mentioned some sprint sets but, get a little bit more specific if you can in what you do to make your dolphin kick so good?
Leslie Livingston: Well I train rather unconventionally. I only most of the time practice, I'm either going fast or slow at race pace maybe above raise pace I don't do any aerobic work. I also do like say maybe 40 to 50% of my workout is kicking and probably 80% of that I kick with fins or monofin so I'm getting a lot of strength training when I'm in the water. In terms of the sets I do, I do underwater shooters which would be a whole length of the pool underwater. I will do 50s while only breathe at the turn and just a lot of speed kicking, lots of that stuff.
Peter Busch: So you are not going to be setting any 200 world records any time soon but you are very good with this sprint specialties especially ones like fly and back, which require a dolphin kick?
Leslie Livingston: Right, right I stick to the hundreds these days.
Peter Busch: A lot of people would think you are very smart for doing that.
Leslie Livingston: Yes, I love them you know I didn't have the chance to do all these 50s and hundred IMs and age group or group or so that is one thing I love about Masters.
Peter Busch: Have you have been swimming your whole life?
Leslie Livingston: No I stopped swimming at 18. I actually hurt my rotator cuff in college my freshman year so I stopped for 24 years.
Peter Busch: Who do you love watching swim today?
Leslie Livingston: I love watching Natalie Coughlin because she is beautiful underwater and she has the smoothest backstroke in terms of master's I think my favorite master's to watch is Mike Ross because he is also all about the underwater dolphin kicking.
Peter Busch: You know maybe it was about 15 years ago now when people like you know Misty Hyman and others started really pioneering the dolphin kick and eventually spur the rule changes where we can only get to the 15 yards or 15 meters. I guess if those rules haven't been changed you would probably be kicking a full 50 meters today going even faster.
Leslie Livingston: I don't know about the full 50 but I wish I could stand the water a little bit longer. I am always right on that 15-meter mark every start so I'm sometimes a little anxious about being DQ'd. I would rather go further.
Peter Busch: They usually give you a one or two meter leeway. Usually we should say. We have seen it from time to time in high profile situations I think Natalie Couglin included.
Leslie Livingston: Right, right.
Peter Busch: What do you think of the recent world championships and the national championships?
Leslie Livingston: Oh they were very exciting to watch. I mean there are a lot of new people on the scene and a lot of competition for the US swimmers that is for sure.
Peter Busch: You know America has got some very talented young backstrokers as well as on the men's and women's side so it is exciting.
Leslie Livingston: Yes, yes Missy Franklin, Liz Pelton, looks great to watch them.
Peter Busch: Alright so when are we going to see you breaking world records again?
Leslie Livingston: I'm not sure when my next focus actually is, probably yards. I would like to try the 50 and the 100 backstroke and try to get the yards record in that, so that is kind of next on my horizon. I don't want to jinx myself but it is kind of what I am looking at.
Peter Busch: Well you are built for short course.
Leslie Livingston: You know I'm not really built for short course I am really small by most standards. I'm only 5'4' and—
Peter Busch: That's my point. Short people who are great on the underwaters are great at short course.
Leslie Livingston: Well I think actually the tallest swimmers do better in short course because they get further off the starts and turns, but I do think that when you are shorter it may be a slightly easier to learn the dolphin kick. It may be slightly easier to learn the dolphin kick. It may be a little more connected with your core. It might be easier so it could be a trick.
Peter Busch: Well congratulations on the world record and good luck setting more later this year.
Leslie Livingston: Oh thank you very much Peter.
Peter Busch: Alright that is Leslie Livingston Joining us in FINIS monitor that is it for today's show. I like her training style. I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down to the finish.
To purchase this or previous episodes of The Morning Swim Show, to send comments or show suggestions, click here to send an email.
To purchase copies of our Ready Room interviews, click here.