Archive for the Swimming Category

Since I’m Swimming

Posted in Stuff, Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by brianestover

Might as well go big or stay home. Yesterday we headed to the Sydney Olympic complex. It’s huge, everything is in one place, all the venues. Easy to get around and close to where I’m currently staying.

Inspired by the legends who swam there before me, and after playing with the kids for 90 minutes in the pool, I went for a bit of a workout.

It dawned on me during this workout. Not having kids, that you have to keep from drowning all the time and who insist on being throw over and over and over and over, is like cheating. It was all I could do to swim decently. My stroke was falling apart faster then a F1 race car that slammed into a concrete wall. My arms and chest felt like someone had pummeled me. Having kids is hard work, work that I should not under take I’ve decided. It’s only 9:30am and I’m already thinking it’s nap time because I’m still wiped out. My sister thinks we should take the kids to the park. Unbelievable.

Mom, Dad, I’m sorry for being a difficult kid. It never dawned on me then that pushing the boundaries was making life more difficult for you guys. My bad.

Enough of that, though. The Aquatics center is huge, awesome really I’m just at a loss of words as to how cool this place is. Kids area with multiple slides, buckets dropping water on the kids, multiple hot tubs. An 8 lane LCM (long course meter) warm up/down pool. A 10 lane 50 LCM competition pool. A diving well/water polo pool. A fitness center with treadmills.

So when words fail, let pics take over. Sydneyer’s I’m pretty jealous. This is the best done aquatic center I’ve ever been to in my life. As a former swim coach, I’ve been to a ton of aquatic centers over the years.

The Competition Pool

Warm Up / Down Pool

Kids area

Diving & Water Polo pool

Once a Fish

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , on August 8, 2010 by brianestover

always a fish. Or so I’ve been told by numerous swim coaches and have told numerous individuals. Swimming is such a technical sport, that those who swam as kids who an advantage over those who pick up swimming as adults. Take a mediocre at best age group swimmer, keep them out of the water for several years then have them pick up triathlon. That mediocre at best swimmer after 3 months of swimming will be a front of the pack swimmer. An adult who picks up swimming to do triathlons will almost never make it to the front pack. It’s just not going to happen except in the rarest of occasions. What is worse, for the adult who takes up swimming later in life anyway, is that the former swimmer will only have to train about 40% of what the adult does to get faster.

To keep things fair though, that mediocre swimmer will probably never be as fast as the person who went on to swim in college. It’s just the way the world works. Go to any masters swim group and you’ll see the progression down the lanes. Where I used to swim there was the Olympian/National/Elite level lane. You had to have been one of the best in the world at one point to swim in this lane. They warmed up about as fast as I did intervals. Rather cruel really. Then you’ve got the college swimmer lanes. These will get sub divided between NCAA qualifiers/All Americans and regular college swimmers. Then you get the AG swimmer lanes and finally it progresses down to the triathlete lanes. Or if you were my former swim club, you just had a separate practice for them.

I bring all this up because I went swimming yesterday. Swam once in the last four weeks previous to this. I still ripped off a 1650 short course yard set holding 1:20-:21 for the longer intervals and 1:15-:16 for the shorter intervals. There were the thoughts floating around in the back of my head that most triathletes if they took four weeks out of the water they would struggle for the next two months trying to get back into swim shape. Where many swimmers turned triathletes will take 2-3 months (or more in my case) out of the water and be in relatively good shape in two to three weeks. In some respects, former swimmers will always have a bigger ROI in their swimming because they’ve invested a larger % of the youth into swimming. For every yard they now swim, their triathlete buddies will have to swim 5 or 6 or more to make an equal leap in swim speed.

Hence the saying: Once a fish, always a fish.

I Love Swimming

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , on May 12, 2010 by brianestover

Well actually that is a big, fat lie. It’s pretty obvious that I’m not a big fan of the pool. It’s getting into the water that I hate. But today, today, was one of those days where you are swimming effortlessly. Everything is clicking just right. All you hear is the splash of your arms hitting the water, it was like I was a metronome. Long, slow effortless strokes.

Within the first 50 of hitting the water, I knew it’d be a good swim. My nose strap breaking couldn’t stop how good it felt. My 400’s were just under 1:20 pace breathing every three strokes. To finish the set I did 3×200 descending on 3 minutes. Hit the wall in 2:42, 2:38, 2:35. Effortless. That 2:35 required no more effort then the 2:42. I’m actually almost optimistic, about my swim anyway, heading into this weekends triathlon.


Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by brianestover

Wildflower Triathlon. When you talk about Wildflower you talk about hallowed ground. One of THE great triathlons of all time. Sure it’s a great race, but it’s also a logistical pain in the ass. You are in the middle of nowhere. Literally ~ 50 miles from the nearest hospital. Which, btw, is in Templeton, not that I would know that normally. But now I do. Why? Because I’m a great, good Samaritan.

So onto the race. It’s no secret that I’ve not really been training much nor did I really care if I raced or made the trip. Being the Genius I am, I racked my bike the night before. Even though the rules aren’t 100% clear on if you can or can’t. If you ask that is the best way to get a no. If you’ve already done something, well then people tend to figure out how to make it work. Anyway, wet suit on, ready to go, warmed up the micro-climate in my wet suit, around my feet, swam a minute or two and lined up in the front. Hey I may not be training much but I’m still a better swimmer then 90% of all triathletes. Gun goes off, a few guys get away from me. There is a line of guys on my feet. All of them except one guy defected to the feet of the guy to my right. Bad decision dudes. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve got some skills. So the drag race to the far turn buoy begins. I slowly, and I mean slowly eek out about a body length and a half lead on that train. It’s like two great cycling teams setting up their sprinters and I’m the lead out guy (probably not the position you want to be in when you are only 15min into a 4.5+ hour race). As we get closer to the turn I start looking around and doing some math. Those suckers to the right never see it coming. Since they are slightly behind me, and off to my right and there is a group of people from a slower wave in front which I should catch just before the turn and they will be between me and the other guys, a good idea pops into my head. An idea of pure, evil genius. I start angling into the turn and herd the wave before towards the apex of the turn. The slower swimmers, the guys from my wave and the buoy all converge in one spot and all those bodies and buoy just won’t fit. Either they have to stop swimming or the buoy has to start swimming. The guy on my feet, who I hope appreciates my move of pure genius, treachery and superior swimming skills, and I slide right on by. My little maneuver got us about a :20 gap on those guys. So lets see, I can swim harder or swim smarter? Hmmmm? Give me smarter every time.

The guy on my feet pulls on through, I push the pace a bit to make sure he keeps it honest then slip onto his feet. Damn right he should be paying me back! We exit the water, get to the bikes, I hop on my more or less reliable Specialized and roll out of transition. About 2 minutes into the race I realize I’ve got about 50psi in my front tire. Hallelujah! Day done, no flat kit and I’m out of the race! Best freaking news I heard all weekend.

Walked back to transition packed up and that was that. End of race, beginning of the beer drinking, after a side trip to Templeton to take someone to the hospital of course.

You Want Some Blame?

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , on March 15, 2010 by brianestover

I would love to lay blame for my pathetic fitness level on someone. Maybe even you, one of my faithful 11 readers. Who wants the blame?

Really though I have no one to blame but myself. These next two weekends should be interesting. I have the Tucson Tri on Sunday. It’s a sprint so I’m pretty confident I should make it through. It’s so short I’ll have to go train that afternoon as well. Then six days later, I’ve got the Oceanside 70.3 half ironman. This should be interesting. While I’m somewhat optimistic I’ll actually not drown, when your last two swims total 6000 yards and that is just about 35% of your yearly swimming, well, no good can come of that. The good news is I can’t go slower then 1:25 per 100 yards, the bad news is I can’t go faster then 1:20. Not to mention my power meter still won’t give me numbers. While it doesn’t read “You Suck” while riding anymore, it still says “Wattage to low to Display”. Sigh. Stupid f*cking computer.

On the bright side, while not fast, my running is coming along. On the downside, I’ve got one run over 10 miles in my legs since November. I’ll be going for the Area Under the Curve approach to the half run. Let’s hope that I’ve got enough 7-8 mile runs in my legs that I can fake the last 5k. Maybe I’ll go run long this week…twice.

Billy and Sarah have been telling me for months to get back into the water. In retrospect I should have listened. It seems to take longer then before to get back into shape.

Just like one year ago, my bike is still not sorted out. Instead of not changing anything so close to the races, I go and stick on new aerobars. Brilliant, in a stupid sort of way. I realized that the extensions are a bit long, currently, but I’m confident that I’ll grow into them. You need a special tool to shorten the bars. Of course I don’t own that tool. So I figure f*ck it. Maybe by April or May I’ll sort that out.

So kids what I’m trying to say is do what I say and not what I do. It’ll work out better in the end for everyone. Besides I’m a trained professional ūüėČ


Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , , on September 27, 2009 by brianestover

I got chicked at the Elephant Butte Triathlon today. ¬†And not by a little. ¬†I was completely crushed, destroyed, dominated, use and abused, worked over. She swam a 20:30ish for the 1 mile swim. ¬†I was next out of the lake in 23:05 about :25 up on third place. I feel slightly used…in a good way.

Decision made

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , on September 24, 2009 by brianestover

Done. ¬†Over. ¬†Sleeping in. Time to drink beer! My hip hurts, my leg hurts and the thought of 6 more weeks of trying to balance enough training without recovering properly is over-rated. It’s, at least in my opinion, better to heal up, rest up and start the new training cycle in mid-late October for next year. ¬†That actually puts me ahead of where I was going to start it. ¬†So more time to hopefully run lots, swim lots and ride a bit, mainly on weekends. ¬†But after I rest and drink beer.

What to do?

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2009 by brianestover

Finally. I’ve reset back to AZ time. ¬†Waking up at 4:30 really sucks, not as bad as 3:30 sucked, but still not my ideal time to wake up. 5:15 seems pretty good for now. Another week or two and that will get moved back 5-10 min. It’s not as light as it used to be that early in the morning. ¬†I refuse to use lights on my bike until September.

Now that I’m set back to normal time, my hamstring is killing me. ¬†My seat was too high on my road bike. Coming off almost no riding over three weeks caused some inflammation. ¬†The NSAIDs seem to have knocked most of it down. It was a lackluster week for running and riding. Maybe 8 miles of running and 90 miles of riding plus a few swims.

I need to sort out my swimming. There are three options. I can continue to swim on my own, I can go to Ford Masters or I can go to the JCC masters. ¬†But lets face it, swimming on my own, I don’t do a good job of that. ¬†No frequency, not much intensity and very little volume. ¬†I did finally roll over 125,000 yards for the year during Saturday’s swim. ¬† If I go to Ford they have a set swim schedule. One day IM, one day long freestyle, one day short intervals, one day is a kicking set day etc. Not a good job of managing intensities or variety throughout the week if you ask me. The morning coach writes the workout and it gets repeated 3x that day. That really has to suck if you swim doubles.¬†I swam there one day this summer and was not impressed at all by the coach on deck. ¬†No control over the workout, or what was going on in his lanes. On the plus side, they have 3 workouts each weekday so getting to the pool shouldn’t be hard. The JCC option is appealing. ¬†Very close to my house, it’s on the river path that I run and it’s from 5:30-7am. ¬†Appealing because 90 min is much better then 60 when it comes to swimming. I can roll out of the pool and do most of my running right after. Unfortuantely it’s only M,W,F Sun in the morning. Sunday’s are out. ¬†I usually run long on Wednesday morning, too hot to do that in the evening still and I run ~65 min on Friday. ¬†Typically I ride T, TH, Fri mornings and have to run on the treadmill those days. If I swim in the mornings, I could run right after most mornings but would need to do something about my long run. Or I could swim M,F there, then Sat/Sunday on my own. 4 days on 3 days off, not ideal but more then I’m doing. Two solid workouts would be 1.5 more then I do per week. On the other hand, I’m swimming fairly well off of half assing it.

The Catch

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon with tags , , , on January 12, 2009 by brianestover

Often the most misunderstood part about swimming is the initial part, The Catch.  The catch is important to setting up the rest of your stroke.  Important because a poor catch makes swimming harder and increases the odds of going nowhere fast.  When I coached swimmers, this was the hardest part of the stroke to teach someone, it depends upon feel of the water, kinesthetic awareness and a bit of knowledge of what the initial part of your propulsive phase does and where it should begin. The Catch is subtle and happens before most can think about what they are doing to catch the water.

To catch the water, you need to get the entry correct.¬† The hand should enter the water well in front of the head, more or less inline with the shoulder and extend a bit.¬† Your elbow should be rotated towards the wall and there should be a small bend in the elbow.¬† Contrary to popular belief you do not have to reach as far forward as you can.¬† Reaching that far forward will cause your elbow to rotate down towards the bottom making the catch a bit more difficult if not nearly impossible to do properly.¬† Entering properly will help you avoid injury and set up the next part of the swim stroke ‚Äď The Catch.¬†

 The correct way to catch the water is to enter the water, extend your arm and leave a small bend in the elbow. Remember, full extension will cause the elbow to drop and dropped elbows are not conducive to swimming fast.  Your elbow should be rotated towards the wall, palm facing down or rotated slightly toward the midline of your body.  Extend from your shoulder allowing your hand to drop just a bit, an inch or two at most. You are not pushing your hand down or back, but allowing the hand to drift down.  Your elbow will float up so that it is higher than your hand.  It should still be rotated out.  Once your elbow is above your hand you can press the hand down by flexing the wrist slightly.  If you flex too much you will actually catch more water initially but you will not be able to hold as much water throughout the rest of your stroke.  Once you have flexed the wrist slightly, keep the elbow up and the shoulder pushed forward then start moving the forearm and hand down and back towards the wall behind you.  You have caught the water and are transitioning into the next phase of your swim stroke.

The Wetsuit Testing Begins!

Posted in Swimming, Triathlon, Wetsuit with tags on December 19, 2008 by brianestover

Wetsuits. If you do triathlon you need one. My wetsuit self destructed a few weeks after my last tri when I was doing some open water swimming. ¬†Zipper broke, a few seams split. ¬†It seems it was one swim too many for the old suit. ¬†It served me well, helping me exit 1st out of the water a few times, and in the lead of the lead pack a few more times. ¬†I was convinced that for me, it was the fastest of the wetsuits I tried on several years ago. ¬†I’d get another one just like but that model has been “upgraded” ie, redesigned, new an improved, etc. ¬†sigh.¬†

So what happens when I need a new wetsuit? I head down to my sponsor¬†and arrange to get a suit in every brand they carry in my size. From them I get a Blue 70, Zoot, QR, Synergy (which after seeing this video¬†¬†I’m a little curious about the new player in the wetsuit market) and a 2XU . After posting on my desires to test wetsuits, the good folks at Desoto sports, NineteenWetsuits,¬†and¬†Xterra¬†wetsuits contacted me about getting into the trial. ¬†I also contacted Aquaman¬†since I’ve always have been intrigued by their suits. ¬†They had to ship it in from France since they had none in the US in my size. A Big Thank you to them for this.

I established some protocals to follow for the testing to keep it above board. ¬†First I’m blinded to the suits I’m swimming in for round 1 until the day I test them. ¬†I’m smart enough to figure out the last two suits but have only a 50/50 chance at guessing which will be swam first. ¬†There will be two rounds of testing. Each round is going to consist of 2×400 scy on the 6 min. ¬†Two suits will get tested per day. The suits have been randomily selected an neither I nor the selector knows which suits are going when. ¬† After I finish round 1, round 2 will be reverse order of round 1. Each suit ultimately gets 4×400 of swimming. ¬†This should help eliminate fitness gains and give each suit a fresh swim. ¬†The first and last swims I’ll be swimming without a wetsuit to establish a front and back end barometer on how fast everything was/is. ¬†Warm ups each day will be kept the same and I’ll be swimming 200yds after switching suits to make sure it’s on properly.¬†
This should give me a good idea as to what is the fastest wetsuit for me (not for you since we all swim differently) as well as how much faster I swim per 400 with a wetsuit vs without. ¬†I wish I could say I’m in great swim shape, but alas, since Soma Half ironman in late October, I’ve been averaging 1 swim per week for an average of 2200 yds. ¬†This is well below my season average of 1.5 swims per week and 7500-9000 yds that I would normally do. ¬†
Yesterday was the first day of testing and I swam without a wetsuit. ¬†I split out 5:07 and 5:10 for my 400s. ¬†The :03 drop off (and the times) really tells me that I’ve not been swimming too much lately. Amazingly it correlates to the training log which says the exact thing. ¬†Brilliant! and I’ll be having a few Guiness tonight to celebrate that stunning discovery.
I’m a pretty consistent repeat to repeat swimmer, able to swim +/- :01 for repeats all day long. Since Thanksgiving I’ve swam a couple of times. Once the main set was 3×600 on the 8 minutes every 100 was split out at 1:20/100 pace and 4×200 on 2:55. ¬†The first 3 were at 2:37 the last was 2:36.¬†
It’s freezing cold in Tucson today, but in a wetsuit the fear I have of actually getting into water shouldn’t be a concern. ¬†Yesterday it was all of 50F and windy. ¬†Try standing on the pool deck wearing goggles and a swimsuit. Brrr. Not so fun. I don’t know why I hate getting into the pool so much. But alas I need to get over it quickly since I’ve got a bunch of wetsuits to test.¬†