Location: Stowe, Vermont, USA
Goal: Swim Faster
Summer 2008, I decided my goal was speed, I wanted to get faster and I had a few specific events in mind, the 800 and 1500 Freestyle were top of the list. I had been swimming some open water and a good lashing of pool swimming, good old “pull up your socks and put in the hard work” training.
I knew there was more, as a coach and swim instructor I kept up with the terrific flow of information from the American Swim Coaches Association and USA Swimming, I was lucky enough to attend conferences where presentations were made by Olympic Coaches and viewing them working with athletes in the pool, it was great.
I was searching for instruction and coaching from someone who lived and breathed swimming, someone with a passion and had experience, swimming experience with a masters swimmer( aka swimmer 19 years and over!)…..I needed someone to give me feedback and instruction to improve my technique, I needed HELP!
I researched, read reviews of clinics and programs, there are some terrific programs, coaches and instructors out there, I found the best of the best…Karlyn Pipes- Neilsen, I read that she lead clinics around the world, had set over 200 world records and was World Masters Swimmer of the Year, yip my gut told me to find one of her clinics.
Almost as if it was meant to be I received a New England Masters Club newsletter the very next day, Karlyn was leading clinics on the East Coast the very next month, I signed up for a clinic in Maine December Sunday December 7th. The clinic was 12:00-4:30pm, my cunning plan was to get up early on Sunday morning and drive to Maine that day and drive back after the clinic. I set my alarm for 5am, drive 6 hours, arrive at 11am, eat food and hit the clinic then drive home. What I didn’t factor in was the possibility of a winter storm, it arrived and it was a doosie, I ended up getting up at 3am, leaving around 4am and made it to Maine at 11:30am a cool 7.5 hours later, after a white knuckled, slow driving road trip. The closer I got to Maine the more cars I saw off the road, each time I spied an abandoned car I shuddered, as you can imagine I arrived a little fatigued but I made it and was determined to learn as much as possible.
I checked into the clinic early, and sat quietly in the room with a couple of other eager early arrivers and patiently waited as Karlyn was setting up for the clinic, I instantly liked her, she was alert, organised and sharp, not only did I know she was fast from her records, she looked it too! I couldn’t wait.
I obesrved the other clinic goers, all shapes and sizes, huge variations in experience and ability, the cool thing was we were all in this together…… to learn, it didn’t matter if you were a struggling new comer or National record holder.
So How did it go?
The clinic was great, I learnt lots of new stuff , but here is the best thing Karlyn guided me to feel, even with techniques I had learned about from some of the US Olympic coaches presenting at recent conferneces ,she was cutting edge and delivered the information in a digestable way and helped me “feel”, that combined with real time feedback lead to big improvements in my freestyle and yes I got faster!
How much Faster?
YES! Instand results, I had a New England Championship Meet at Boston University 5 days later, I was thrilled to break the New England Record for the 800 meters Freestyle, but here is the cool part, check out my time drop….
2008 800 meters Free time 11 minutes, 4 seconds
2008 800 meters 5 days after Karlyn’s clinic 10:30.67
So what happened then, Karlyn also attended the championship meet setting a world record, I congratulated her and thanked her for all she did for me, since then I have attended multiple clinics with Karlyn and each time have left faster
2009 800 meter time 10:24.88
2010 800 meter time 10:20.77
I was impressed by Karlyn’s ability to deliver stuff in a simple and easy to digest way, she showed a real passion to bring the joys of swimming to others.
We became friends and she comes up to Stowe when she is out east to lead a clinic and visit, I am fortunate to catch some training swims when she is in town and I LOVE IT!
How did April’s training swims with Karlyn go….I’ll keep you posted!