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Women Beating Men

3 December 2022


I caught a few replays from this week's US Open long course championships, highlight reels featuring Katie Ledecky and Summer McIntosh going head to head in the 400 freestyle, and Ms. McIntosh crushing the field in the 400 IM.


What amazes me is that, in my prime - the summer of 1988 swimming on the University of Texas men's team and trying to make the Olympic Trials - I could not have kept up with these two women. In 1988, I was trying very hard to get under 4:00 in the 400 free (the USA Olympic Trial cut for men then was 3:59.99) and missed it by less than a second. The trial cut in the 400 IM was, I believe, 4:33.99, and I was similarly a little less than a second over that. I wasn't a half-bad swimmer back in the day, but these young women now put my 20-something self to shame. Incredible!

With race day two weeks away tomorrow, I planned a variation of one of Mark Kutz's classic three-week taper workouts but made further in-workout variations.


Warmup Sets (1,300 sets)

  • 1 x 400: IM kick-drill by 25

  • 3 x 100: free descend with a snorkel on 1:30 - 1:12, 1:08, 1:06

  • 3 x 100: on 1:45, dolphin-flutter kick descend - 1:26, 1:25, 1:22+

  • 1 x 50: easy scull

  • 8 x 25: on 1:00 per pair, odds fast (15.6, 15.3, 18.2, 14.6)

  • 1 x 50: easy scull

Main Set #1 (1,000 set / 2,300 total)

2 rounds of:

  • 1 x 100: strong free on 2:00 (1:02.2, 1:02.7)

  • 2 x 50: strong fly and back on 1:00 (fly 31.3, 30.6, back 33.1, 32.4)

  • 1 x 50: easy on 1:00

  • 4 x 25: on 0:45 fast IM order

    • Round 1 - 15.1, 14.4, 18.1, 14.2

    • Round 2 - 14.1, 14.6, 17.0, 13.5

  • 3 x 50: active recovery on 0:45, 1:15, 2:00

Main Set #2 (700 set / 3,000 total)

  • 9 x 50: on 1:15 per pair, fast - easy by 25 in rounds of three fly-back-free

    • Fly -13.9,14.0, 14.6

    • Back - 15.2, 14.8, 14.8

    • Free - 13.5, unknown, 13.6

  • 5 x 50: active recovery on 0:45, 0:50, 0:55, 1:00

400 Kick-for-Time (500 set / 3,500 total)

  • 1 x 400: kick for time - 5:57.1

  • 1 x 100: easy

Two weeks of rest before an afternoon of fun racing!


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