What a great swim practice this morning!!! Getting back into shape and watching stress recede in the rear view mirror of life...

Backstroke race. From a USMS national meet a few years back.

It won't come as a surprise to anyone in the "sandwich" generation (the people wedged in on one hand paying for their kid's college and on the other, taking care of declining parents) that life can get stressful. In the last couple of years I've handled my mother's decline and passing and then, eighteen months later I am doing the same for my father. During the same few years Belinda and I worked hard to make sure Ben got the college education we all wanted for him; with the attendant costs for private college and a semester abroad. At the same time we tried to be disciplined about saving for retirement. 
Altogether it's a big "ask." 

If anything went missing over the last two years it was my peace of mind and my swimming fitness. After spending a few days and nights on a chair-bed in intensive care it's hard to summon the energy to get to the pool and work hard at seven in the morning. Repeat this over time and watch your fitness levels drop precipitously. Before 2017 I swam six days a week. Sometimes I'd hit practice early in the morning and then I'd head back to the pool after work to get in another mile or so. With my dad's care I dropped Sundays and headed to San Antonio every week to spend more time with him. 

With Ben in college I turned down fewer jobs and had more early morning calls than I had before and I lost a number of opportunities to swim as a result. 

That's all behind me now and I'm in the pool with a renewed commitment to getting back into competitive swim shape. I just finished my 13th workout in twelve days and I haven't felt this good and this fast in years. In fact, if someone would pay me to swim I'd sell my cameras (except maybe one or two....) do do nothing but swim for as long as the direct deposits remained active. 

We had a great practice this morning. Ian Crocker was the coach on deck. Usually our coaches start practice with a warm-up that's a long, slow distance; like a 400 yard freestyle. They might follow that with a kick set, another 300 yard freestyle, another kick set, and then some warm up sprints before the main sets. Today was totally different. The workout on the board started with a set that looked like this:

5 X 100's on 1:30
Active recovery with a 100 I.M. 
4 X 100's on 1:25
Active recovery with a 100 I.M. 
3 X100's on 1:20 
Active recovery with a 100 I.M.
2 X 100's on 1:15
Active recovery with a 100 I.M.
1 X 100 on a 1:10 pace. 

That was the warmup. 1900 yards. Nice. 

Then we headed into the main set of mixed distance sprints and medium distance pull sets. 

We capped out at about 3,000 yards for our hour of swimming this morning and we hung around in the pool just to see the reaction from the 8 am swimmers as they looked at the white board and came to grips with the enormity of the warm-up. 

Earlier in the week I did a workout with my swimmer friend, Emmett, at Deep Eddy Pool. It's a wonderful, spring fed pool, adjacent to the Colorado River, in the middle of Austin. It's a very "old school" pool as it is 33.3 yards long in the lap swimming section. You definitely get some extra strokes in between the turns. But the lure is the 70 degree water! You can go faster in colder water. There's less heat build up and less fluid loss. But going faster than one's usual pace is a good recipe for being sore and tired by the end of the day. 

My goal right now is 30 great swims in 30 days with no breaks. I'd like to get back into good enough shape to swim some of the events at this year's USMS Short Course Nationals. We'll see how it goes. 
And yes, at this point in my career I am more than happy to turn down photographic assignments if they would interfere with my swim practice. Selfish? Naw, just setting better priorities. 

Speaking of priorities, the people at Viltrox got in touch with me and asked me if I'd like to test out their new lens. It's an 85mm f1.8 autofocus lens that's available in the Fuji and Sony mounts. I opted, of course, for the Fuji version. It arrived the day before yesterday and I'm looking forward to heading out the door to give it an inaugural breaking in. I hope to have more to write about it later this week. I can tell you it feels very nicely made and very solid. Only downside so far? You lose the aperture ring on the lens..... definitely not a "deal killer." 


Jim Restle said...

Hey Kirk, since I never mastered the art of turning my head to suck in air, I never became a swimmer. But I was wondering if you or any of the regulars ever deal with the kinds of injuries that seem to affect other repetitive sports, like runner's knee or tennis elbow. Is there such a thing as swimmer's shoulder?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Jim, very few injuries. If you don't practice good stroke mechanics it's possible to do some damage to your shoulders but if the recovery cycle of your stroke is good and your pulling position is good you can swim for decades with no injuries.

Of course, there is always the good, old ear infection. But if you are disciplined about using Swim Ear ear drops after each swim you probably won't be afflicted by that either....

Jim, if you don't want to turn your head in order to suck in air you could always master backstroke. No head turning necessary. And, of course, in breast stroke and butterfly you do breathe looking straight ahead.... just saying.

Mitch said...

All of the Iron Man folks I know swear by "Two a Days". I can't seem to make that work as a cyclist as it's just too huge an investment in time. But I would like to try out a few of them sprinkled in here and there. I think there is a benefit to doing one monster workout occasionally. And there must be a benefit to doing two more-moderate workouts a day that add up to more time/distance exercising than one killer session.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I'd do more two-a-days if I wasn't also trying to get a 3-4 mile run in three days a week. I only seem to have energy for one way or the other...

Anonymous said...

My fitness level dropped after five years of being nearly housebound providing daycare 50+ hours a week for a handicapped Grandson born the week after I retired. It was worth it but I doubt I will ever get back to being as fit as I used to be. I am now responsible for helping my 90 year old mom get to doctors,shopping, etc. Caregiving stuff is hard, especially if you are not wealthy.