As Chris Anderson described in The Long Tail, the internet has made possible a previously unthinkable wealth of content for niche interests – e.g., Masters and open-water swimming.
Here are two great examples from the past week:
First, Rich Abrahams. The consensus “swimmer of the meet” at the recent Masters Nationals in Atlanta, Rich threw down a 49.4 100 Free and 22.1 50 Free. Fast times for anyone, but guess what? He’s 65 years old. In other words, not just fast, but almost-unbelievably fast.
- his focus in practice on lots of race-pace swimming
- his approach to dryland training:
- focus on overall, balanced strength rather than swim-specific strength
- one long workout Sunday morning, one shorter workout Wednesday (providing several days recovery between each)
- the importance of long-term consistency (i.e., over several decades)
- his preference for swimming with 1-3 like-minded training partners, rather than with a team
Second, 2008 open-water 10K Olympian Mark Warkentin. Mark and I grew up together and swam for many years with the Santa Barbara Swim Club. He’s the toughest workout warrior I’ve ever known – and also a smart, wily open-water veteran. So, like ’08 gold medalist Maarten van der Weijden, he routinely beats people in the open-water who are faster than him in a pool.
Two days ago Mark made an appearance on the Simon Gowen Triathlon Show (h/t Daily News of O.W.S.). The interview has some less-meaty parts (it’s a triathlon show, after all), but there are some good tidbits for more advanced swimmers. In particular:
- a good way to train yourself to breathe on both sides (while still breathing every other stroke): do a long swim, alternating 50m breathing to one side, 50m to the other
- the importance of repeating sets over time – to gauge progress, but also to hold yourself accountable (you know how fast you should be going)
- “pool open-water” training – take out the lanelines
- the importance of being comfortable swimming in a pack – taking advantage of “moving water” and keeping your composure when you get hit or kicked