The Morning Swim Show, June 5, 2012: Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen Going Outside the Box for World Champs Preparation

PHOENIX, Arizona, June 5. KARLYN Pipes-Neilsen is set to make heads turn at the FINA Masters World Championships next week, but before she departs for Italy, she talks about her preparation on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show.

Pipes-Neilsen talks about the atypical training she's been putting in the past few days in Hawaii, as well as the purpose of a recent trip to Italy for some special cross training. She also discusses the reasons behind her two-year break from competition and what it's like to enter a new age group. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Tuesday, June 5th, 2012. I'm your host Jeff Commings. And today in the FINIS Monitor we're gonna talk to a legend in Masters swimming. Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen took a couple of years off from competition but she's back with a vengeance and ready to compete in next week's Masters World Championships. Karlyn joins us now from Kona, Hawaii. Hi, Karlyn, how are you doing today?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: I'm doing great. Aloha. How are you, Jeff?

Jeff Commings: Doing great, thanks. You must be getting excited for the Masters World Championships. Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Yeah, I'm pretty excited but also just a tad bit intimated. I don't know if you'd seen the numbers of how many people are planning on attending, but the meet is gonna be huge.

Jeff Commings: It is gonna be a huge meet, but you're — I'm sure you'll do just fine.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Thanks. I'm going in with one goal and one goal only, and that is to have — have fun and just enjoy just the camaraderie of what a big meet can feel like.

Jeff Commings: So tell me how training is going in preparation for this meet?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Well, training was going great when I was on the mainland and, actually, last couple of weeks. But when I got back into Kona, they closed the pool and drained it, so my training leading up to Worlds consisted of only swimming in the ocean. So it's been fun, it's been interesting, it's been challenging, and unique, to say the least.

Jeff Commings: Well, Dana Vollmer, is — anybody who watches the Morning Swim Show knows she does a lot of her training in the ocean. She went to Australia specifically for ocean training. So if it worked for Dana Vollmer, I'm sure it's gonna work for you.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Well, you know, it's gotta work. I mean, it's the ultimate long course pool and I'm enjoying the backstroke and I'm finding that, you know, you can actually tune up your stroke pretty good. If you can't swim straight in the ocean, you're not gonna swim straight in a pool. So it's been fun. Plus just getting creative and not getting too distracted 'coz we do have a lot of marine life to look at. I'll roll over and next thing you know there'll be 20 dolphins swimming underneath me and it's hard not to — it's hard to stay on track when there's so many things to say the workout's over, we're gonna go chase dolphins, which can be a workout in itself.

Jeff Commings: Well, you're making all of us landlocked swimmers a little bit jealous.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Well, it's a lot of fun, but there's nothing that compares to getting in the pool. It's a good thing that I have pretty awesome starts and turns and flat walls don't scare me, thanks to swimming in a flat wall pool all my life and training with Mike Troy. I wanted to say a big thanks to Mike, I'm a great flat wall turner. So it's just more a matter of just getting that conditioning in and getting a little uncomfortable out in the ocean.

Jeff Commings: That's true. So Worlds is in Riccione, Italy, and the swim meet starts June 10th. Now, you were just in Italy a couple weeks ago. Were you out there on a reconnaissance mission, scouting out the pool?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: No, actually, I was there staying at a hotel that caters to cyclists and I was doing some cycling training, riding 50 to 70 miles a day through the back roads of Italy and Tuscany. It was absolutely fabulous. So I did go swim at the pool a couple of times, get in a prerequisite five to seven thousand meters and then I got the heck out. But it was really neat to see that facility. It's fantastic. They were just completing work on one of the outdoor pools and putting in grass and new stadium seating outside, so I think it's gonna be a very carnival-like atmosphere, and how can it not be one? Things gonna go like 13 hours every day and you've got almost 5,000 Italians in the house cheering each other on. So I think it's gonna be a pretty exciting fun beach-oriented meet with a lot of fast swimming.

Jeff Commings: Yeah, they definitely got to keep you entertained if you're gonna be there all day.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Yeah, exactly. But, you know, most of the hotels are actually within walking distance and the ocean is, like, a one and a half kilometers away. So I actually anticipate that I'll probably be doing some of my warm-ups in the Adriatic Sea as opposed to trying to jump into a five-lane 25-meter pool to get in some kind of a warm-up. So that's kind of my plan. Kind of stick with my training.

Jeff Commings: Yeah, exactly. You can't just totally wean yourself off the ocean swimming.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: I know, gotta get my gills wet in the saltwater.

Jeff Commings: What events are you gonna be swimming there?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: I'm swimming 200 free, 200 back, 200 IM, 400 IM, and the 100 fly. I schedule my meet very conservatively. I like to swim more events on fewer days just coz the stress of the meet. So by the time I get to relay day I'm done, you know. Swim relay day and then after that those last few days I'm just playing. And probably the first thing I'm gonna do after the meet is go for a run and maybe a bike ride.

Jeff Commings: That's not bad. Not a bad way to spend some time in Italy.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Oh, yeah, it's gonna be so much fun. It's, you know, I just can't — I can't wait.

Jeff Commings: You just turned 50 so now you're in a new age group. It's got to be pretty exciting to kind of I guess, as a Masters swimmer, see it start off with a clean slate.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Right. It's all new best times. It's my first long course meet of the year, and although, you know, things have changed. When I aged up to 45, there was hardly any competition in my age group. And when I took a break a couple years ago, I looked at the world records and they all seemed like I could pretty much do them in practice with a whole lot of training and since then a Canadian swimmer named Lynn Marshall has rewritten the record book. We also have Leslie Livingston and a couple other really crackerjack USA 50-year-old swimmers that all went to Masters Nationals last month. And I had to bring my A game to that meet just ahead of those girls. There's no guarantee, so, you know, the best defense is an offense and my offense is have a good time and you'll have good times, you know, I'll have good times.

Jeff Commings: You talked about taking some time off. You took a couple years off. What was the thinking behind that?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Well, I kind of got a little re-evaluation in my life and realized that I was becoming a little bit too records-focused and not so much on the process of how much I enjoy the sport of swimming. So I just decided to take a step off the blocks. I didn't stop training at all. As a matter of fact, I trained even more, but I just trained without any specific goals and I also gave myself permission to get out of the pool and try other things, so I ran, I just started recently biking, I would do zumba classes, yoga, spin classes, just kind of anything. And I think probably the neatest thing that I discovered was I always kind of identified myself as, you know, Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, swimmer, and after these last couple years I would identify with Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, athlete, and it's a little bit broader scope, little more playful, lot more fun, a little less intense. Don't get me wrong. I get up on the blocks and I'll race. But when it comes to the stuff that goes around what it takes to get there, I'm really enjoying just getting out there and exercising and with other people. And also teaching, that's been a huge, huge thing, sharing my gift with others at my Aquatic Edge swim clinics.

Jeff Commings: Well, I'm surprised you're just now finding this laid back attitude. I mean, you've been living in Hawaii for a few years now. I mean, that's what they do.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Yeah, but you got to remember I travel about 50 percent of the year and so I'm training with a lot of different groups which is really a blessing. I get to kind of travel all over the world and swim with a while bunch of different people and from that I can get some pretty intense workouts coz everybody is gunning for me. I get in the pool and my cap says my name on it and next thing you know I'm the big — I've got a big bulls eye on my back. So the intensity is always kind of been there and I just kind of figured it was time just to set it down a little bit and, like I said, enjoy it just a bit more. And I, still, I love the sport and love giving back and I love writing for Swimming World Magazine, and sharing what I've learned over the years in training, in technique, and motivation with others. So it's all good. I mean, if I never break another world record again, I'm happy. I don't want to get slower but if it doesn't happen, that's okay, too. The sport is what I do, you know.

Jeff Commings: Speaking of your travels, I know you got a chance to spend a couple days at the British Olympic Trials, got to see the Olympic pool. What was it like from a spectator's viewpoint?

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: You know, it's a fabulous pool. And I was there, actually, just for the opening night, but what I really liked was — the British tend to be really low-key when it comes to swimming competitions. They're not really easily excited. But they were fired up and they also rolled the para-Olympic trials in that one meet, so it was really awesome to see how they've enveloped both able-bodied swimmers and the disabled swimmers or, you know, challenged athletes in and they got equal billing and I just thought that that was fantastic. So it's gonna be a really fast, fast meet, amazing pool. The, you know, facility is all brand new and I think that they're just gonna do a great job.

Jeff Commings: Well, Karlyn, it's great catching up with you. We're really looking forward to see how you do with Masters World Championships. Best of luck to you in the pool, continue to have fun outside of it, and say high to everybody out for us over in Italy.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: I will do that and thanks for putting on a great show. And, hey, good luck to you at the Olympic trials, old man.

Jeff Commings: Thank you. Thank you very much. If I wasn't —

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: You're gonna be the oldest one there. I know we've got Dara and now I saw that Erica Braun just qualified. At 40 she qualified in the 50, so I think, you know, you guys do those Masters contingency. Go do us proud, okay, and put on a big smile and show those kids what it's all about.

Jeff Commings: Well, the same goes for you. And I know that's not a problem for you, so we'll see you on the deck soon.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: All right. Aloha and mahalo.

Jeff Commings: Aloha and mahalo to you.

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen: Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff Commings: All right. That's Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen joining us in the Morning Swim Show today. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.

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