Journey to Olympic Trials: Man in the Mirror

Commentary by Jeff Commings, SwimmingWorld.TV associate producer

PHOENIX, Arizona, March 28. TODAY was the official start of my power phase of training. I’ve got about 80 days of hard training ahead of me, with the goal of getting my muscles primed for explosive speed, both in and out of the water. Just about every workout I do, even my recovery workouts, will have a speed element to them. I’m very, very excited to be at this phase of training. The “sprint endurance” phase I’ve been going through for the past two months was OK, but now it’s time to work on race pace, quickness off the blocks and timing, and that is always fun to do.

My dryland session with J.R. Rosania today was my first real dryland workout in about two weeks, and I felt like I had been away for a few days, but my body responded well. We’re starting to put power into some of the exercises, and will be building up to doing some explosive work in the next few weeks. It will be tough, but I’m excited to see what the final result will be.

This morning I turned on the light in my bathroom, which I usually do not do because it’s very bright, and quite a shock at 5 a.m. But this morning I turned it on, and what I saw in the mirror gave me pause. The guy in the mirror did not look like me! The guy I saw looked fairly lean, and had lost the love handles I’d been carrying around since December. Though people tend to believe swimmers are vain, I very rarely analyze my body in the mirror, and I do not own a weight scale, so I wasn’t aware of my weight loss. Many people have told me in the past few weeks that I’ve lost weight, but physically I didn’t feel different, and have been so busy with life that I didn’t have the time to notice even one pound of weight loss.

I have long thought that it would be great to be under 200 pounds by the time I swim the 100 breast at Olympic Trials, but I told myself not to be fanatical about it. When I went to the doctor for a check-up in February, the scale said 210, including clothes, and I figured I weighed 205. Losing five pounds seems easy, but I was not about to eat celery or do any other radical dietary changes. I think the weight came off just from working hard and being smart about what I do.

Because I do not have a weight scale at home, I do not know how much I weigh, but I am very pleased with how I looked in the mirror this morning. That’s enough for me! I’m not sure if I was this light at sectionals three weeks ago, but if so, it could explain a lot about feeling “lighter” in the water.

Yesterday, I had some issues with my neck and I was quite worried about it. It came on fairly suddenly near the end of workout, and swimming backstroke became painful. After a great massage later that day, as well as a lot of ibuprofen and a bag of ice on my neck, things were feeling better. Over the course of today, the pain began to dissipate, and as I write this it’s almost gone. I think I just strained my neck or did something weird, but I don’t remember exactly what it was. Thank goodness it was a temporary pain!

You can follow Jeff Commings’ preparation for the Olympic Trials by going to his blog at, where he posts each of his workouts.

Jeff Commings will compete in the 100 breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials. He previously competed in the 100 breast at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Trials and was an All-American at the University of Texas.