Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back in the Thick of Training and Happy About it

Back in Austin and back into the thick of training. My first day back I went a double. Today we swam for three hours. All and all workouts are going great. After having gone to the Duel in the Pool and resting a bit for that I feel somewhat refreshed and reinvigorated to train. As I get older I realize more and more that breaks are necessary. During college I would get three weeks a year and that was it. Looking back at that I wonder how I forged ahead with such little time out of the pool??? As Kris Kubik puts it, "Professional athletes and especially as they get older are like rubber bands, you can pull and stretch them hard and for a good while but eventually you need to let them loose so they don't get too stretched out." I can't think of a better analogy.

A little practice breakdown... Yesterday I was really happy with the afternoon workout. The main set was a 12 minute swim then we had a few minute break and went an eight minute swim. The goal was to go as far as you could in those time limits. Kris said to me that for the 12 minutes I should be around 1100...I thought he meant that 1100 would be the max I should go. I swam and stopped at the 1100 at 10:59. This was a great time for me and there's no doubt in my mind if I had understood him right I could've gone 1200 in 12:00. On the eight minute swim I went a that point I was getting pretty tired. We swam around for a while and then did the same set kick. I went 925 yards on the 12 minute kick and 625 yards on the eight minute kick. Leaving the pool yesterday I felt a great sense of satisfaction. There's no substitute for good quality work that gives me the confidence in my training that helps me continue to move forward!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Cheer...Life Cheer?

Holiday Cheer. What exactly is Holiday Cheer? Recently I saw 'A Christmas Carol' on IMAX and 'A Christmas Carol' as a play. Many times since I was young (wait a minute...I still am young) I've seen this story but this time I took something else away. First off, I love the Holiday season because everyone is generally so much more happy and thankful at this time of year. My guess is that some y'all feel this too. Why is this just at the Holidays? Holiday Cheer...why not Life Cheer? The story of Scrooge made me think and wonder about this. Why not Life Cheer? What do you think?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Snow...Crazy Biker Dude

I arrived back safely to the US last night to a winter wonderland at my house. Snow is everywhere and I plan to go skiing tomorrow or Wednesday. The trip to Manchester was great. Once again an honor to represent the USA and travel to a new place. This week I'll be taking it easy and relaxing with my family. The plan is to get back into training soon...weight-room later today and maybe swim tomorrow. That's all I have for now but check out this video below...this guy is literally unreal!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Duel in the Pool Update

After a long day of travel (for me, 25 hours) Team USA, tired and somewhat weary, finally made it to the hotel in Manchester. Literally 15 minutes post arrival to the hotel we had once again left on our way to swim. Many of you may be thinking that is a crazy thing to do after so much travel. In some respects it seems that way, but it is important to get our muscles working again to loosen up after sitting for so long. Now I was not looking forward to jumping in the cold water, I never am, what I was looking forward to was letting my body slowly cruise out all the kinks and tightness. Much like many swimmers, being in the pool is very calming to me. There was no question in my mind that as much as I didn’t want to get in the water, I would feel tenfold better after I was done swimming.

Coaches will once again have different philosophies on what they think you should do after travel. There probably is no solid right or wrong answer. What I know from a lot of personal experience is that it is best to take it slow for a while and go probably a bit further than I think I need to. When I dive into the pool after any amount of travel I have one goal in mind, “swim until I feel good.” Certainly ‘good’ is a relative term in this sense. Likely I won’t feel quite as good as I will the day of the race or even the day after travel, but I need to make sure I leave that pool feeling refreshed. For instance, yesterday I got in and swam for about 25 minutes. Probably 7-10 of those minutes were kick, 5-8 were drill and the rest was easy swimming. At the end I did a build 25 free and a build 25 back. The build is up to a percent that feels like I am still gripping the water but not forcing it. I think it’s important to try and always maintain as good of a grip on the water as possible…we don’t want to miss out on any water we could be grabbing.

Finishing the swim was, of course, a nice hot shower. Many times on National team trips we wait until everyone or at least a large group is finished to leave the venue. Last night we were going to wait for everyone to finish before leaving so this gave me a great opportunity to do some much needed stretching. We had dinner directly upon arrival back to the hotel. Let’s just say dinner wasn’t the best meal I’ve had on a national team trip…as I’d heard England is not known for its food. My night finished with a massage.

At about 10:30pm we hit the lights to go to sleep. I was dead tired and was confident I’d have no problem sleeping. I crashed hard. If I had to take a guess I’d say I was probably sleeping within a couple minutes. My mind and body were in one of the deepest sleeps I’d had in a while, but suddenly, I arose. I was wide-awake. My fear was realized. It was 3am…and that was the start of my new day.

Thank you for also letting me post this blog to my website as well!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Manchester & Representing the 'Stars & Stripes'

Once again I'm gearing up for another big trip. It feels like I just got back to Texas and now I'm leaving again. Tuesday will be the start of a two week journey that will first take me to Manchester, England where I will compete at the Duel in the Pool. The trip to England will be short and sweet, all of about five days, at which point I will head back to Wisconsin to spend the Holidays with my family. From what I hear Manchester might be as cold as Wisconsin. It's times like these, when I'm packing lots of warm clothes, that I remember again how lucky I am to live in such a delightful climate.

Duel in the Pool has traditionally always been a duel meet between USA and Australia. This year is a bit different. Originally it was supposed to be 18 men and 18 women from the USA against and all-star team of 18 men and 18 women from England, France and Russia. For some reason that I am unaware of France and Russia have dropped out and Germany and Italy have come aboard in their place. To be honest I really have no idea who I'll be racing over there. The truth is that it doesn't really matter anyways. My goal is simple, swim fast, have fun, and represent the 'Stars and Stripes' to the best of my abilities.

I've come to realize that wearing the 'Stars and Stripes' is much more than swimming fast and placing well at a sporting event. It involves and is intertwined in everything we do. Whether we're in the airport, locker-room, behind the starting blocks, or out to dinner, we are looked at as ambassadors of our nation and that is something we take very seriously. I know America is a very strong nation, and I am proud to be an American. Undoubtedly we have had our struggles and our mistakes. However, my trust lies within the systems we have in place, and what's more, the American people. Team USA's job is to show the world that our people live with class, respect and character. We do this by exhibiting these qualities every way we can. From my experience I think the USA swimming team does this with great success...and we will continue to do so. Thank you for all of your support. We greatly appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

AthleticFoodie Nuts

See how a handful of nuts can help your health!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time to Grind Off that Rust

Wow...It's time to get back to racing. I haven't been on the blocks since July at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. For those of you who have not been around 'racing' sports that's a pretty long time to be out of the racing world. This is not necessarily a bad thing but simply the training path I took in order to focus more on hitting the weights and water workouts really hard. However, it showed yesterday in the 50 free and today in the 200 free that my racing skills are a bit dull. The strange thing is that I felt good in the warm-up for both events. This once again proves that it doesn't matter how we feel. As you may have already guessed I'm super tired from all the training I've been doing lately. This past Saturday I lifted weights for two hours and am definitely still seeing the effects of that. In short, I've been training like a mad man. Speed is not going to be there for me right now. Although it is very frustrating to swim slow and get beat by many people, I must remain poised and believe I'm doing the right thing in my training.

Kris Kubik, our famed assistant coach at Texas put it to me like this last night, "As long as you are doing the best you can do, then you are doing the best you can do! Sounds like you are!!!" This rings true. As always I'm giving every race my all. I must remain focused on learning from everything I'm doing and continue to have faith.

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