Wrestling Trip to Hungary

2014-07-12 20.55.12

I have to apologize for my blogging absence. Our season ended in early July, and I promptly headed off to Hungary to watch my son wrestle in the World University Championships.

For those who are interested, I’ve now posted 4 of 6 posts describing my / our adventures. You can find these as follows:

Part 1 – The Journey to Pecs

Part 2 – The Competition

Part 3 – Post-Competition Time in Pecs

Part 4 – First Day in Budapest

I’ll take a bit of a blogging vacation for the next few weeks. In the meantime I hope everyone is having a fun and productive summer.

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200 Freestyle: Sprint or Distance?

200 FR sprint or distance

If you’re aware of my series on the analyzing how the elite swim the 200s, you’ll know that I’ve collected a lot of data on elite swimmers. So it seemed natural for me to use this data to answer (at least to myself) an age-old question. Is the 200 Freestyle more sprint-oriented or more distance-oriented? We know it has both elements in it, but which one dominates?

The Data

The data set consists of 24 women and 24 men elite swimmers at the time of the 2012 Olympics. I used the fastest 24 200 Freestyle times from the Olympics and the US Olympic Trials. For each selected swimmer, I used the fastest time they swam during the competition, and not just their last swim. As part of this analysis, I collected each of the 50, 100 and 400 metre Personal Bests [PBs]. (In this and all previous analyses, I disregarded all swims during 2008-2009, as the data clearly shows that shiny suits distorted all swimming times.

I’ve also found that it is incredibly interesting and useful to also look at 50 splits when compared to that swimmer’s 50 PB. It makes the data applicable to a much wider range of swimming speeds than raw splits would allow.

So, “Offset” is a split minus that swimmer’s PB for that distance.

Offset 50 = 50 Split minus 50 PB

There were a few swimmers for whom I could not find a 50 or 400 PB, or at least couldn’t find a realistic one. See NOTES at the end of this post for an explanation of how I handled it.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Analysis

The first part of the analysis is fairly straightforward. We start with the idea that sprinters and distance swimmers will swim the 200 Freestyle differently, and then we’ll test that.

We group the 24 swimmers into …read more

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Preparing for the Big Meets


This is Championship Meet season, and many swimmers are gearing up for the year’s big races. We know from experience that some will do amazing, some will be disappointed, and many will be in between. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to get those amazing swims.

1. Sleep, eat properly, and remove stresses from your life. You want to arrive at the meet feeling good, and without any worries outside of the pool. If you have homework or studying to do, get on it early and make sure you’re comfortable with your effort.

2. Don’t radically change your diet right before the meet. Unless you are a nutrition expert (or you had an atrocious diet all year), you should keep to the same general diet you had all season. Diet modifications are sometimes used by higher level athletes, but only with expert guidance and some previous experience. The bottom line? It’s too late now to lose fat, or gain muscle mass, and too risky to make your first foray into manipulating carbohydrate intake.

3. Don’t add new physical activities to your routine now. At this point in the season your muscles have hopefully become fine tuned to your swimming races. Anything new can cause muscle soreness or muscle fatigue, and can even cause your stroke mechanics to change by compensating for the new aches and pains.

4. The days before the big meets are also not the time to make big changes to your stroke mechanics. Like it or not, fundamental changes to muscle memory are probably going to backfire. Even small change to stroke mechanics will most likely be lost during the excitement of the race.

5. The same thing goes for suddenly deciding you’re going to be an underwater phenomenon. It’s too late to …read more

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Swimming By the Numbers: How Elite Men Swim the 200 Breaststroke


This is the next installment in a series that looks at how the elite swim the 200 by looking at their race splits. This time we’re analyzing the 200 breaststroke for men.

The first set of analyses involved the long axis strokes for men and women (here, here and here). We found clear indications of specific race profiles (Sprinter, Distance and Hybrid – see below) that made sense given the efficient nature of the strokes. The women’s freestyle and backstroke were won with Sprinter profiles, while the men’s races were won with Distance profiles.

I then looked at the 200 butterfly (here and here), and found a world of differences. Gone are anything approaching sprinter / distance profiles, and instead the races are handled by the elite in virtually the same say for the first 150, followed by a wild final 50. This significantly different race profile was verified with the analysis of the women’s 200 breaststroke (here).

It will be interesting to see if the 200 breaststroke for men follows this short axis race pattern.

The Data

The data set consists of 24 elite swimmers at the time of the 2012 Olympics. I used the fastest 24 times from the Olympics and the US Olympic Trials. For each swimmer, I used the fastest time they swam during the competition, and not just their last swim. I also knew that I would have to look at more than just raw splits, in order to compare sprinters to more distance-oriented swimmers, and to provide value to non-elite swimmers. As a result, I used their 50 m Personal Bests [PBs] as well. For a few swimmers for which the 50 PB was unavailable or absurdly old, I was able to infer a reasonable 50 PB from their split on a 100.

I …read more

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