August 2012

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First practice after 2.5 weeks off

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 3:58pm (August 29th, 2012)

Today I joined the local masters swimmers at Fuller for my first pool workout since the U.S. Open 2.5 weeks ago.  I jumped in and took a few strokes, smiled and thought to myself "yup, I love it".  I did about 3,000 meters with the group.  I felt a bit awkward in the water, as expected.  It was nice to get some sun and laugh with the guys a bit.  Afterward I stopped by Canham to help a college swimmer with her computer.  I caught up with Assistant Coach Josh White and a few of the guys and girls on the team.  It felt a little like coming home, it was a good feeling.  Since I came in before practice, the swimmers trickled in one by one.  The ones who wandered over near the offices (where I was sitting) immediately smiled when they saw me.  The guys would shake my hand, a few of the girls gave me a hug, and all of them would ask how I was doing and where I was swimming.  It made me feel like I had really made some connections on the team.

As I caught up with Josh White, he confirmed that there was indeed no "Post Grad" team for the time being.  A reality I had already come to terms with, but the confirmation was appreciated.  I've always really respected Josh White.  I believe he has a bright future as a swim coach.  He's knowledgeable (good thing too, he has a Ph.D.), and believes in aerobic training.

Today I filled about 3 hours of my life with swimming, or talking to swimming contacts.  It was a great day back in the swimming world.  I love this sport.


Elevate your heart rate, once a day

Posted by Kevin Doak on Wednesday at: 11:56am (August 29th, 2012)

I've really enjoyed that line: "Elevate your heart rate once a day".  It really simplifies general health to me.  With people who don't know how to lose weight, I would recommend simply doing something that makes your heart beat faster than it is right now.  Yesterday I chose to rollerblade 4 miles.  Today I will swim and do some light dryland in the form of abs and bodyweight exercises.  I feel happy to have the freedom back in my schedule yet after hearing that U of M was back in the water at Canham, I also felt sad that I'm missing out on great team training.  Although my choices for pool time seem limited, I am making the choice to mix up my training till I enumerate my swimming options.


A New Chapter

Posted by Kevin Doak on Monday at: 9:04pm (August 27th, 2012)

Since finishing my 2012 Olympic Trials run, I've reflected upon my experience in a positive way many times to friends and relatives.  As I tell my story, I find that I smile and say things like "I wouldn't trade it for anything".  I knew a lot about the swimming world before I started with Club Wolverine Elite but the people and events I was a part of, in a way, revolutionized my swimming.  I will utilize some of the techniques and training ideas I learned this past year in my future swimming.  Some of them I will choose to leave in my past as something I tried and did not benefit from.  As with any program, I saw value in some of the training and developed preferences on what I would change regarding other portions.  It was an experience I won't ever forget.

Today I start a new chapter in my swimming career.  There are external factors that affect how I move forward, most are outside of my control, and that's ok.  Being a 31 year old post graduate swimmer, my options are limited as to who I train with and when I train.  I have a flexible schedule but even that doesn't solve my "who to train with" issue.  This past weekend while at the Masters clinic I learned that there will not be a dedicated post graduate program at U of M anytime in the near future.  In the past month, there had been a sliver of hope that a group of post graduate swimmers would be returning to Ann Arbor to train.  Although I'm not certain, this looks unlikely.  With the 2016 Olympics being my 4th post graduate Olympic Games, I am far outside of the "waiver" that the NCAA and the USOC require to train alongside a college team.

With no training options at U of M, I find myself in solo mode, a place I've been many times before.  Initially I felt a bit disapointed with the news that the training situation I enjoyed so much vaporized after the 2012 Olympic Games finished up.  Yet, in my 2 weeks off, I've really enjoyed the freedom of not swimming every day and getting back to life, friends, and family.  This new chapter in my swimming career can be whatever I want it to be.  And writing <--that sentence put a smile on my face.  In a way, the sky is now the limit.  Now I'm a Masters Swimmer all over again, I will struggle to find a consistent training location and I will push myself to train hard each week.

I feel the pressure of the challenge, a little fear, but mostly excitement :)


A Day of Coaching

Posted by Kevin Doak on Sunday at: 11:02pm (August 26th, 2012)

Today I helped coach a Masters Swimming Clinic at Fuller Pool in Ann Arbor.  Leading up to the clinic, I had no intention to help out simply because I don't normally coach.  As the event grew closer, I heard about numerous requests from the attendees to join the coaching staff.  Last week I broke down and agreed to help out.  I've largely avoided coaching in my life.  I've often said "I want to coach later in life".  I feel like I have some other things to accomplish in my personal and professional life before I become surgically attached to the pool deck (rather than the water).  I've feared coaching in a sense as well.  With how passionate I am about swimming, and my comfort with public speaking, I had a feeling as soon as I did it, I would be hooked forever.  My worst fears were realized today.  I absolutely LOVED my experience coaching today.  I really enjoy leveraging my 22 years of competitive swimming plus my year training with Olympians to help other swimmers.  It was a really positive experience.

The 2 hour clinic turned into about 3.5 hours once we helped everybody in attendance.  The first 1.5 hours was focusing on a specific freestyle drill.  The remainder of the time was really well spent critiquing strokes and offering feedback on how to improve.  The staff was also videotaping swimmers and will offer voiceovers to provide the swimmers a video to refernce later.  I spent most of my time on the techy side of the clinic.  I brought speakers and wireless microphone to ensure everybody could hear what was going on, especially those with hearing problems.  When most coaches just yell, I thought this was a much better solution.  I moved on to event video and photos afterward.  I got some great shots of the coaches and swimmers in action.  I'm told one of them will end up on the USMS homepage in an article about the event.  When it was time to split up into each stroke, I was assigned backstroke (big surprise).  I worked with about 25 different swimmers in total.  Each one would start at the 15 meter mark and swim towards the wall.  When they touched I would provide them a critique of their stroke.  It felt good to take all the knowledge I've learned from the great coaches in my life, and organize it all into helpful comments to share with others.

In total we had 67 swimmers in attendance.  I probably knew half of them at least.  It was nice to catch up with those I knew and meet a few new ones.  I've been asked to travel to a few of the Masters practices and coach a bit so I'll probably add a few of those in my schedule.  Today was a great experience and reinforced that I do indeed want to coach someday.  Great job today everyone!

Training Quote
"Having you here means a lot to all of us" - A Masters Swimmer

Enjoying some time away from the pool

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 10:07pm (August 16th, 2012)

After 15 months of serious training for the U.S. Olympic Trials, I'm taking a break from the pool.  It's still only been 6 days but I'm overwhelmed with the feeling that I should be somewhere (the pool).  I've enjoyed getting some projects done and catching up with life a bit.  I'm already noticing I need to be careful how much I eat.  Since I typically work out at least once a day, drastically reducing my calorie burning time seem to already be making it's mark on my belly!  This past week has also made me realize how many calories I must burn swimming compared to other activities.  I've been very active with manual labor type stuff but it's apparently not anywhere near the same excercise level.  I'll be back in the pool soon!


One event at U.S. Open and GONE!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 10:53pm (August 9th, 2012)

Today was another learning experience.  I learned that I don't enjoy swimming poorly.  That seems like an obvious statement but it was a moment of clarity for me.  I really seemed like I could not care how I did at this meet and be ok with it.  I was wrong.  I swam poorly and I'm embarassed.  I came to swim at the U.S. Open to have fun and see some friends.  I accomplished those two tasks before I even swam Thursday morning.  I saw some teammates and some EMU people, laughed and smiled.  I got to catch up with the CW coaches that just returned from the London Olympics.  Afterward I swam the 100m Butterfly in the preliminary heats. I was in heat 2 lane 5.  A good position for racing.  I took it out fairly well at 25.51, just two tenths slower than my best race ever a month ago when I finished in 54.83 seconds.  The second half of my race felt ok but was VERY slow.  I fell apart bigtime.  I finished in 31.2 seconds, the only time I finished worse was my first 100 fly ever a few years ago.  I touched the wall in 56.82 seconds, literally 1.99 seconds slower than I was a month ago in Omaha.  I was leading my 5 competitors at the wall and finished 6th in my heat.  I stayed on deck to support a few other swimmers, packed up my things, checked out of my hotel and headed home.  I contacted the coaches on my way back to Michigan and requested that they scratch me out of the 100m backstroke tomorrow.

Later in the day I would check results online to see that I finished DEAD LAST in the event with a 33rd place.  I find that embarassing for two reasons:

  1. I didn't even come close to swimming as fast as the meet entry cutoff of 55.29.  I view the meet cutoff as a "you deserve to be here" time.  When I don't achieve the time it required to enter the meet, I don't feel as though I performed well.  My time was 2 seconds slower than I swam the event a month ago
  2. This is the second time I've gone to the U.S. Open and finished dead last in the only event I swam.

I pride myself in understanding and embracing where I stand in the swimming world.  My swims today were far below my potential.  I'm a little embarassed of my swim.  I was 2 tenths slower than the second slowest person in the event.  Since I finished dead last in two U.S. Open meets I have to examine WHY I swim so poorly at this meet.  It didn't take more than a few seconds to figure it out.  These meets fall 1 month after the Olympic Trials.  A meet in which I train hard, taper and shave.  I prepare for months, in the case of the 2012 trials, I trained for over a year.  I think I'm just ready for a break after the trials, yet I keep training, admittedly not fully motivated, and try to squeak a few more races out of my training.  This might work for some people but not for me.  My swim today was a pathetic effort and I won't let it happen again.  I will either prepare for a meet and attend, or not attend at all.  Lesson learned.

On the lighter side of things. A special congratulations To Nickolaus Orf, the 17 year old from Parkway Swim Club who took 32nd place (second to last), YOU'RE WELCOME!  I took DEAD LAST so you wouldn't have to!

Today, just like my 2008 performance taught me that somebody has to take last place.  You never want it to be you, but it's bound to happen someday.  Accept it, learn from it, and be better next time.


In Indianapolis for the 2012 U.S. Open!

Posted by Kevin Doak on Thursday at: 12:29am (August 9th, 2012)

Looks like I took an unintended break from posting.  I've spent the past few weeks LIVING a little away from the pool.  It involved a lot of work, some family time and a move.  I had lived very close to the Canham Natatorium pool over the past 12 months, keeping my practice travel time to a 5 minute drive.  The practice situation over the past 4 weeks has been laid back and especially relaxed for me personally.  The head coaches were focused on the 2012 Olympic Games in which we had 6 swimmers competing.  It was exciting to watch my fellow teammates race against the best in the world.

Wu Peng - China (11th place 200m Butterfly)
Kevin (Bradley) Alley - Barbados (25th 400m IM)
George Bovell - Trinidad (7th place 50m Freestyle)
Barry Murphy - Ireland (29th 100m Breaststroke)
Milorad Cavic - Serbia (4th place 100m Butterfly)
Connor Jaeger - USA (6th place 1500m Freestyle)

I'm very proud of my teammates.  I know everybody wanted to swim a little bit better to meet their goals or swim a lifetime best but it's still an amazing accomplishment to have achieved what they did.  I enjoyed talking to friends and relatives during the Olympics and being able to tell them that I had already competed in the London Aquatics Centre and that I had friends swimming in the Olympics.  In a sense, I felt like I had experienced many of the pieces of the London Olympics without ever being an Olympian.  I trained with Olympians for over a year, I swam in the Olympic Trials, I competed in the 2012 British Nationals which was held in the Olympic pool, and I was coached by an Olympic Coach.  When I put all those peices together, I got close enough to the Olympics to have learned what it takes to get there.

Moving along.  I'm in Indianapolis for two days competing in the 2012 U.S. Open.  I'll be swimming the 100m Butterfly on Thursday and the 100m Backstroke on Friday.  This is largely a fun meet for me.  The time cuts for this meet were the same as the Olympic Trial cuts to it attracted only the top athletes to compete.  I have not put in the training prior to this meet to set myself up for great performances.  I will enjoy my time racing in one of my favorite pools and not worry about my rankings this week.  Looking forward to supporting my teammates and catching up with some swimmer friends!