No Replacement For Passion And Intensity

No Replacement For Passion And Intensity

The Washington Post ran an interesting article about the training – or lack thereof – by Michael Phelps and how USA Swimming’s Olympic coaches are reinventing the sport for their older elite stars.

Amy Shipley of the Washington Post wrote that “as swimmers continue their professional careers well beyond college, the older generation is unable or unwilling to tolerate the sport’s extraordinary training demands day after day and year after year.”

Amy reported how Olympic swimmers like Dara Torres, Natalie Coughlin and Gary Hall Jr. took a year or years off at a time for physical and mental refreshment. She wrote that there is no proven methodology for training post-graduate swimmers that strikes a balance between rest and work. The American Olympic coaches offer abbreviated practices, uncustomary patience and new strategies as they navigate this new era of adult swimmers.

With USA Swimming’s recent investment in three post-graduate training centers in Maryland, California and North Carolina, Olympic coach Bob Bowman said, “We are in uncharted territory.”

But perhaps not.

While the two disciplines are world’s apart, open water swimming can gives hints to the pool swimming crowd. Marathon swimming has traditionally drawn from an older demographic group of athletes and can offer hints as to what is possible with adults. Marathon swimmers – including world champions Thomas Lurz and Angela Maurer both in their mid-30s – strike a great balance in their own lifestyles.

The tremendous rigors of marathon swimming – including training and travel – demands balance.

For example, during all the years when he was dominating the professional marathon swimming circuit, Paul Asmuth was married and a professional full-time accountant.

A wife, a job, a boss, clients and the rigors of training for up to 15 marathon swims a year – with the shortest being 6 hours – had to be balanced on a day-by-day basis.

While flexibility of the coaches was undoubtedly critical to his success, there is no replacement for Thomas’, Angela’s or Paul’s deep passion for the sport and fierce intensity in workouts and during races. It is this passion and intensity that enables the athlete to properly train and prepare for the sport.

Passion is largely generated within one’s own mind rather than manipulated by a coach on a pool deck. It is this passion that carries one through the long hours, days and months of training, especially in the case of a marathon swimmer who does so many things on a solitary basis.

Similar to Michael Phelps’ races in the pool where fitness, speed and technique are so evident and essential for success, the purity of open water swimming means that lackluster preparation will soon be evident in cold or rough water.

As Michael said and what marathon swimmers like Paul proved during their careers, “The real test of my motivation is going to be when I get back in the pool.”

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones