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New Year's Day Swim — The Aftermath

From an email sent to his coach the day after the swim.

It is 5:47 a.m. on January 2nd, the day after the 99NYD workout (99 times 100 yds on 1:30, with a max Strokes Per Length (SPL) of 12), and I just woke up and got a good surprise. I am not that sore, and where I am sore is completely different from where I am usually sore (and I am not that sore there!). I used completely different muscles yesterday.


I am sore across the back of my shoulders, down the middle of my back to my hips (all big muscles), and my stomach (a much bigger area than I want). My arms and chest are not sore at all. Last year when I woke up, I could not bend my arms without letting out a cry of pain, and it hurt to breathe because it would stretch out my pecs. To keep my SPL down, I focused on leg driven hip role (sore back) and longitudinal balance and swimming on my side. After further review, I think my stomach is sore from the 297 flip turns. As you know, after five-and-a-half months away from the pool, I have only been swimming for about two weeks now, so I should have died yesterday. But I feel great!

Becoming a Better Swimmer

Yesterday rather than just get my body in better shape, I must have practiced better technique (shown by holding the low stroke count and the new sore muscles). I feel like I not only accomplished a significant workout, but became a better swimmer, something that will pay off during the rest of the year. While I have been fighting you on this low SPL stuff, I definitely think swimming it this way was a lot better than thrashing it out, practicing bad technique for 9900 yards.

Lap by Lap

Here’s what happened. I was finishing the first 15 or so 100s on 1:15and was holding my SPL down at 11 to 12. Then the initial euphoria wore off and I dropped into completing the next 65 x 100 on 1:20, and held my stroke count at 12 for the most part. There were frequent dips into the 9 and10 SPL and up to 15 SPL just once when I hit someone and rare 13s and14s when my brain shut off for a 25, but I was able to get the SPL under control on the next length and compensate.

For the last 19, I was beginning to get tired and I was completing the swims on about 1:25 but my strokes per length were still at 12 or below. I gave up a little speed here to keep the technique, and it took a huge amount of effort to stay with it because the new muscles were really tired. I focused on getting all the way up on my side so that I could glide with the least effort between strokes, stay in control of when I started the next stroke, and start the body roll with my leg muscles. While I got slower, I bet the next time I get tired a lot later, and I can keep swimming faster, longer because I have a more efficient gear.

I am pretty sure that if I had switched back to my short fast stroke for the last 20 swims, that I would have a) swam at the same speed or slower, b) used a lot more energy, and c) got much more tired and sore.

On the Horizon

Some day, I hope I will be able to swim faster, even in short distances, doing this than I used to thrashing. That remains to be seen, but during this set, I noticed that if I wanted to swim faster, I could do it by reducing the amount of glide between each good long stroke. I just need to be in better shape for taking the long strokes. Which is what I think this pain in my back and stomach are telling me I took the first steps toward yesterday.

See you at work out today at 8:00. Let's do it again! v



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