Journey to Olympic Trials: Playing With the Boys (Girls, Actually)

Commentary by Jeff Commings, SwimmingWorld.TV associate producer

PHOENIX, Arizona, November 21. INSTEAD of posting my thoughts on the past week, as I usually do here, I thought it would be best to post Sunday's blog entry in its entirety here.

You can read all my blog entries at, including my thoughts on the races I swam on Saturday morning. I'm less than three weeks away from my taper meet, and the nerves are starting to kick in!

Without further ado, I invite you to read about my day at the pool on Sunday:

Today, the plan was to do about 3,500 meters in the short course meters pool at the University of Arizona. Before I got into the pool, I went over to the head coach of the Washington State women's team, which was starting a workout in the main pool, to say hello. The head coach is Tom Jager, one of the legends in swimming. Don't know who he is? Shame on you. Here's a link to information on his stellar swimming career.

Tom grew up on the other side of the Mississippi River from St. Louis, in Collinsville, Illinois. He swam for Parkway Swim Club in St. Louis for many years before going to UCLA. Having grown up in St. Louis a generation after Tom left for UCLA, I knew him well. After we caught up on each other's lives, I was planning to go to do my workout. Tom introduced me to the women on his team, and they greeted me joyfully. I was going to wave to them and leave them to their workout, when one of them invited me to swim with them. I agreed to do so, not knowing what was in store.

I only had an hour before I had to teach a swimming lesson, so I had hoped to get at least 3,000 meters in before that. I only swam 2,000 meters (long course) in that hour:

5×100 choice on 2:00

400 kick, with the last 12.5 meters of each 100 fast

6×50 drill on about 1:20

4×50 free on 1:00 (averaged :38)

3×50 free on :50 (averaged :36)

3×50 free on :40 (averaged :34)

200 easy

4×25 breakouts

The team was getting ready to swim against Northern Arizona University on Monday, hence the extremely relaxed workout. Even they were surprised at all the rest they got. I'm sure they'll swim well tomorrow. Today's workout was like a taper! As I was about to head to my lesson, Tom got into the water and showed the team his stroke. It was just as I remembered it from his days of winning Olympic medals. I could tell the team was impressed. Tom said later it was the first time he had gotten in the water with his team in seven years, but it looked like he had probably been splashing around on his own a few times.

So, I didn't get in the workout I had planned today, but after yesterday's performance at the swim meet, it was clear my body needed a little recovery. I didn't mind spending more time hanging on the wall than swimming today. The girls were a delight to talk to, and if I had done my planned workout I might have stopped after about 2,000 meters anyway. The diving well was about 83 degrees, and at that extremely uncomfortable temperature, my brain would have instantly found ways out of the workout. So, the 2,000 meters I managed to get done today was much more pleasant than the 2,000 meters I would have forced myself to do otherwise.

Add in the fact that tomorrow is a normal off day, I should feel better on Tuesday. This week will present a few challenges in terms of swimming. I don't think I will be swimming Thursday, and on Friday morning, Geoff and I are going to the White Mountains in Arizona for the weekend. The closest pool to us will be 20 miles away in Show Low. Hope we have time for it, and that the pool is conducive to a halfway decent swim.

Enjoy the week everyone! If you're in the United States, I hope you take the time to be thankful for the blessings in your life, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!

Jeff Commings, the author of “Odd Man Out: An Autobiography,” will be the third-oldest man to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials next summer. He also holds Masters world records in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes.