Journey to Olympic Trials: The Week That Was

By Jeff Commings, SwimmingWorld.TV associate producer

PHOENIX, Arizona, October 7. STARTING today, I'm going to bring you a different way to keep track of my road to the Olympic Trials. Instead of posting one article every day, I'll post one article every Friday, with a look back at the week in and out of the pool.

As always, you can read each post from the past week on my personal blog website, I go into detail about all my workouts there, especially all the ups and downs of being 37 years old and training for Olympic Trials. So without further ado, here's a look back at this past week.

This was the first of eight weeks of race-pace training in the lead-up to my taper meet in December. The goal is to do plenty of sets that allow me to work on power, speed and technique while getting ready to race. My first workout of the week was on Sunday (Oct. 2), and it was about as far from race-pace training as you could get. I was unable to complete the main set of 12×200 on descending intervals. The last four 200s were on 2:20, and I could only make three on that interval before needing to take a break at the wall. I wasn't upset about not making the last repeat. After all, I'm not a distance swimmer! The rest of the workouts this week had a better sprinting focus on them.

The only downside to doing my race-pace training with the Phoenix Swim Club Masters team is the workouts rarely put a focus on race pace. So, I usually amend the workouts to allow me to recover enough to put 100 percent effort into each fast swim. See Wednesday's workout from this week for a perfect example of what I mean. Thankfully, Coach Mark Rankin is very understanding about my need to train this way as we approach a meet, and my results in the water the past two years have proven that it works.

My training in the weight room will also change in these eight weeks. Instead of doing muscle maintenance sets, I will be attempting to max out on just about all my exercises, working to build strength in the muscles.

Because my muscles will be broken down more severely in these eight weeks, I will need to focus more on my stretching. I usually stretch about two or three minutes after swimming, and about the same in the weight room, but I will do more of that now, to maintain flexibility and keep my body primed to swim fast.

My race-pace sets were very good this week. My goal is to hold 29.7 or better for 50 yards breaststroke from a push and 26.8 or better for 50 yards backstroke. These are the times I should post on the final 50 of a 100-yard championship race, and working on getting those times is the key to this part of the season. I also will be working more on fast swims from a dive. I think doing swims from a dive is important for sprinters. While it's great to work on the second half of the race, it's more important to work on the first half.

Also, this week marked the return of oatmeal to my breakfast routine. Thanks to many people who reached out to me last week after I sought advice on the best post-workout breakfast, I now will be eating a big bowl of oatmeal most mornings after workout. These bowls will also include some whey protein powder mixed in for a nice boost. I think this is already helping me reach my goal of losing five pounds!

Next week will see a heavier focus on race preparation. Next Saturday and Sunday, I'll be competing in the Rowdy Gaines Classic in Orlando, and swimming there will show me how race-ready my body is. The primary focus of the trip to Florida is to cover the meet for Swimming World, but it'll be nice to step up and race a few times.