Why is it that an overweight, undertrained 35 year old can do the times
he did as a 17 year old swimmer? And no, the answer isn't "the suit"...
I've just come back from the British Masters Swimming Championships,
where on Saturday I swam within 1/100th of a second of the time I did
for 100 metres Breaststroke 18 years ago (I'm 35).
At the time I wasn't world class or anything, far from it, but I was in
Scottish National Squads and training around 10 (or more) times every
Incidentally, my split time was the fastest I have been from a standing start (i.e. not a relay) over 50m.
So what's going on?
Well, I'm certainly a bit stronger than I was. My technique may be
better, but then my range of movement and flexibility isn't quite what
it was. After all, I've been sitting at a desk more than anything else
for the last 10 years or so.
I'm pretty sure that my anaerobic fitness is not what it was and
aerobically, well, there's no comparison. Indeed, for most of the
intervening years I haven't even been a regular exerciser.
Yet, in a little over a minute's swimming, there's no significant difference between what I did then and now.
The biggest item in the credit column must be psychological.
Then, I took it all very seriously and overanalysed poor performances.
I used to be conscious about what other people thought of me and where
I stood in rankings.
Of course, now I have the benefit of hindsight so I race for fun. Sure,
it's competitive, but if it wasn't fun I wouldn't bother.
The other psychological aspect is that I really try and learn from my
races. I don't waste energy going back over things to the point where
I'm beating myself up, but I do treat every race as a learning
experience. I look for something to improve and move on.
My mantra going into the meet this week was "trust the process" because
as I rested (from my massive 3 sessions a week) I could feel my stroke
coming together. I hit the first wall on my 100m and thought "nailed
it" and from there just went on automatic until I felt myself tying up
a bit, then it was "keep it long". At the end I was dying a bit and
didn't time my finish well, but hey, that's for next time
(And in case you are wondering, no I didn't wear a LZR bodysuit!)