Back in October, I stated that one of my goals for this swim season was to break 1:20 in the 100m freestyle. Last season, my goal was sub-1:30, which I managed at the Winterlude meet. Since then, I've gone under 1:30 a few more times, including one swim around 1:25. Still, the faster you go, the harder the seconds are to shed.
After the timed 400m on Tuesday, we were told we'd be doing a timed 100m today. I was looking forward to it, as it would be an excellent gauge of how far I've come this year. So far, the workouts have mostly been about stroke improvement. We really haven't done a lot of speed work yet. That said, I needed some technical work, and I think my freestyle is more technically sound than it was last year.
In the warmup, I focused on getting a good quick catch, and on pulling right away rather than lazily gliding for a second or so first. It felt fast. It seemed fast. I felt good.
The first set involved 4x50 free, 4x50 back and 4x50 fly, descending. I focused on both catch and kick during the free, trying to stay within myself. Back was a writeoff. I worked hard on fly, getting down to 40 seconds, but I paid the price for it.
After an easy 100m, we were out of the water, and waiting our turns for the 100m free. I needed the wait, as I'd probably gone a little too hard on my last 50 fly.
When my turn finally came up, I was paired with the fastest guy in the pool. So much for being able to pull myself up to someone just in front of me. I did a dive start, tried to be a bit conservative the first half, but by 25m the guy was way in front of me. I was on my own.
I tried to focus on the feeling I'd had in warmup, but somehow everything is more urgent when it's for real. My kick was quick, and probably not very good. I breathed every third stroke. I tried to keep my cadence quick and my catch strong at the start of the pull. My turns lacked their usual strong push, as I was quickly finding myself rather winded.
Inside my last 25, I tried to breathe every 5th pull, really hammering on the front half of my pull, and keeping my turnover quick. My lungs screamed for air, but I was able to deny them all the way to the wall.
After I finished, I felt pretty beat, which was a good sign. I'd put in a good effort, but had I held my swim together? How fast had I been?
Obviously, I was pretty happy with this. With no string to tie to someone in front of me, with no frame of reference, I'd managed to take several seconds off my old PB. I was also, already, most of the way to my seasonal goal. Thinking about it, I started getting excited about the Winterlude meet in February.
The coach mentioned that we would start doing speed work in December (which starts tomorrow!). He figured that, if I chose to focus on freestyle, I would probably see further improvements in my time.
Needless to say, I'm pretty excited and happy. As with any kind of a race, even an unofficial one like this, I'm also motivated. If all the work I've done is helping that much, I can't wait to work even harder!