Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A "new" milestone...and why swimming is like pitching

So I swam 3500 yards this morning!


I know I've techinally done that before...but not in a VERY long time. Like, probably sometime in the first Bush Administration. So I'm pretty pumped. It was nice because the way I had my interval sets structured, it really didn't even "feel" like it was longer than I'm used to. I just kept pluggin' away, and trying to accomplish the goal of each set. Pulls, steady swims, 400 repeats--but everything had a purpose, you know? The 400s had their own special little purpose. The first one was easy/hard by 100, the 2nd was building speed each 100, the third was a negative split, and the 4th was race pace. Now, this came at the very end of the workout, so I was definitely fatigued. But I was pleasantly surprised to see my race pace 400 wasn't too far off what I'd like to do in, say, a sprint tri. I tried to visualize the beginning of a sprint tri as I started that one, and I guess it worked.

Funny how things just work better if everything has a purpose. You don't even realize how hard it might be--you just focus on the task at hand, and when that's done, you move onto the next one.

I should remember that.

Anyway, I've decided that swimming is much like pitching. See, I gave up swimming year round when I was 15 so I could focus on fastpitch softball. I played slow-pitch since I was about 10, but our town didn't have fastpitch leagues available so I had to "crash course" learn how to be a pitcher for high school. Since our H.S. didn't have a pool, being on the swim team meant long treks to the downtown college pool, and less time to pitch...so I gave it up. But I really loved pitching and playing fastpitch. It's a great game.

Basically, as a pitcher, you can be strong and have all the power in the world...but that won't make you the best pitcher. You have to have the technique DOWN, and any variation in that will dramatically affect the outcome. If your hand is in a slightly different position, or you grip the ball a little too tight, or let it go just 1/100th of a second too late, you could have a wild pitch.

Swimming seems like this, too. When I'm really focused on glide and form, it's amazing to me how low my stroke count can get. But when I'm a little tired, or just not thinking about it, sometime I can tell that my form is off--with dramatic results. It will take an extra few strokes to get down that pool. This is OK for a 25, but can really make a HUGE different in my 2.4 mile swim in September.

When I first started pitching I was extremely fast! This was great...except I did not have my form down. What does that mean?

LOTS of hit batters.

Oops. :)

Yeah, they called me "Wild Thing."

Let's just say that our freshman year JV team was 0-16-2. (Yes, we managed to TIE 2 games. Who does that????)

So I quit swimming. Pitched year round. Pitched before and after school. Ended up becoming a closer/late inning reliever, which I loved. Put me in when there's a tough situation, and I'll get her out or die trying. :)

And sooner or later, the form was down--and the accuracy followed.

My softball coach, Coach C, is an amazing guy. One of his 4 daughters was an All-American pitcher for Toledo. She was freaking awesome. He told me that she could LITERALLY strike someone out with her eyes closed. One time in a GAME he told her to do it--and she did.

Good pitchers can pitch a strike with their eyes closed. You just feel the motion and let it go at the right time, and it will be there.

I think good swimming is similar. FORM is everything. Strength plays a role, but without good form, even a muscular-ly strong swimmer won't get any faster.

OK--time to go run some 400 repeats...and then to get a much needed and deserved MASSAGE! :)

Train hard!


DaisyDuc said...

Wow!!!! That is so impressive...that would be over 116 laps in my 15 yard pool (I think turning around that many times would tire me out!) Sara, you seriously kick butt!

What a great comparison...how I do miss the wonderful sport of softball!

E-Speed said...

Wow. See now there is something I could never do! No hand eye coordination=no sports with moving balls for elizabeth ;)

Great job on the swim!

Friday night Dave or maybe it was David asked me to say hi to you and that your smile lights up the pool. He felt bad for not saying hello while you were there.

Curly Su said...

Cool analogy, Sara. And you're totally right on. Swimming is SO much technique...boys are always so surprised to get their butts kicked in the pool when they can run/bike so fast. Kind of fun, until they figure out the form thing for themselves. :/

Awesome swim this morning; follow it up with a kick-ass track workout!

Scott said...

Impressive swim. Someday, I will be able to swim 3500 yards (though maybe not on the same day...lol).

Great insight about staying focused on a task. We would all do well to remember that pearl of wisdom.

BuckeyeRunner said...

Great swim, TriSara! I must say I am impressed with your softball exploits! I, like Elizabeth, should stay away from any sport that requires a stick and a ball. It's even pretty funny that I like Tri, since it requires extraneous equipment - the bike. Ha!

Eric said...

Awesome yardage. You looked great today. I did 3300 today as well. It was nice having the pool to ourselves when we finished. As I walked out the door I noticed you were all alone.

So if you did have to take a pee break no one would know.

Papa Louie said...

I heard it's like golf too. When I swim I feel like I'm boxing. I punch like hell and the water fights back so I don't get anywhere. Maybe I need to learn how to dance. Good workout! Keep it up.

Cliff said...

Note to self...don't play catch with Sara ;)

Good analogy.

I can swim with my eyes close..just not good :D..yeah i try to make sure i relax when i swim and focus. Focus on every movement. One hand entry off by an inch, it can screw my stroke.

Keryn said...

See...you and I would be great at catch. I can't hit the broad side of a barn if I tried.

That is a great analogy. Technique is so important. And 3500 yards! Wowsers.

rice said...

Technique is a huge part of every thing we do every day it seems.. These days were I’m doing slow distance and sticking to the track because of the weather I end up with a lot of time to think about the technique that I’m using for my running and stride and so on.. Now if we can apply this in the rest of our life.. Slow down and do it properly.



PS. Great swim.

Spence said...

Excellent!! Sometimes coach has us swim 25s with our eyes closed and it becomes apparent VERY quickly if something is awry. And it's usually corrected quickly after the 2nd or 3rd time I've jammed my fingers into a lane line...Great comparison...It will be in my mind next time there's blind swimming... And GREAT job on the 3500!!! What were your 100 yard split times like?

qcmier said...

"Wild thing, I think you move me"
One month till opening day!!!

I am swimming 3200+ yds now. Glad to know the distances of my swim workouts are about the same as a more accomplished swimmer.

Daniel B. said...

Bag the tri and running, yo... and take up cycling all the way! Bike racing... the coolest sport around town!


Kevin B said...

Swimming is all technique! After being last (at least it felt that way) coming out of the water in my races last year, I buckled down and have been taking a swim class over the last few months. Just yesterday during my swim workout I noticed that I had knocked off 15 seconds from my 50 yard swim! Swimming not as hard but smarter. Meanwhile, I still need to develop two pitchers for my daughters softball team - I have coached for the last 5 years.
Teaching fastball pitching to 11 and 12 year olds is tough! You are right on with your analogy. Only way to swim and pitch right is practice, practice, practice. Both are more of an art.

Rae said...

Great job with the swimming!!

I am dying for a good massage, hope you enjoyed it!