In The Swim Every Little Bit Of Advice From The Experts Helps You To Reach A New PR Even As You Approach 70 Years Of Age – Not Dead Yet!


Hi folks,

I like to wear nose clips in the pool to reduce chlorine allergy, but they sure make me look dorky.

I like to wear nose clips in the pool to reduce chlorine allergy, but they sure make me look dorky.

FitOldDog's logoI was in the pool today, doing what Rick considered to be a taper set for my upcoming marathon in New York (Hurricane Sandy permitting), and during the last rest interval of a set of 8 x 100 yards, the guy in the next lane said, “What are those things on your nose?” I explained that they were nose clips that I use to avoid symptoms of ‘Chez Ollie,’ then the clock came round and I had to go. I should know about chlorine and airway responses, because I worked and published on it for a while, but that is another (old) story. The real issue, however, wasn’t my nose clips, it was the time I would achieve for the last 1 x 100 yards. Here is the result of this set, which included a real PR – before I started working with Rick on conditioning, when I thought about technique all the time, the best I could do was a 1:39. My best 100 ever was a 1:29, even during 10 years as an active water polo player. I’m not a fast swimmer, just an average one. But at the age of 69, Rick, with the input of lots of other people, including a great one about laying on your arms from Mel Stewart (thank you, sir), I managed the following set of 8 x 100 yards on the 3:00 (long rest interval), with the goal of keeping the swim times as close as possible to my best time achievable (my goal for the set was to hold 1:29, as my best 100 since Rick came along, and ever in fact, was 1:26):

Time/100 yards followed by what I thought during the long rest interval.

  1. 1:26 – oops, too fast.
  2. 1:27 – oops, felt too easy.
  3. 1:25 – da*n, a PR, 1:25 finally.
  4. 1:24.5 – smoking.
  5. 1:24.5 – really, da*n, my lats ache.
  6. 1:24 – did it, next stop 1:20 – you’ve got to have a dream, …
  7. 1:25 – hang in there, don’t fluff it now (Oh No! that nice man is talking to me about nose clips, for heavens sake, can’t he see that I’m in the middle of a hard set?).
  8. 1:25 – great set, lots more to learn before I’ll do a sub-1 hour in an Ironman (my real goal), but progress is being made, thanks to Rick and friends.

This doesn’t sound like much to people who can hold 1:00 x 100 yards forever with no rest interval, but for this old fart it is a whole new adventure in fluid mechanics. As part of my program of safe exercise for better health, teaching old dogs new tricks is definitely an important component of the process – YES!!!!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Great workout! I’ve always been an average swimmer – my runners arms were too skinny to be strong, but I did my Lifeguard qualifications and with endurance from running, could swim forever. BUT this year I will join a masters club again to do 2 things – work on my technique, and get in more distance. Do you credit your improvement to conditioning or technique?

  2. Hi Pauline, it goes like this: you learn to swim, somewhat and your technique is horrible but it slowly improves for ‘soft water,’ then you work on technique some more and go a little faster, but you’re stuck there, then the epiphany of conditioning kicks in, you work ‘REALLY’ hard on conditioning and start to feel new things (you’ll need to do a lot of cord work for this, btw), new water, hard water, and you notice drag all over the place, so you adjust, you watch great swimmers and adjust some more, but you continue to ‘kick your own ass’ in the pool, the power stroke becomes stronger as you find new hard water, and drag reduces as you find those things that slow you down, and you combine all of this with mental imagery to give you yet another boost, and so it goes from PR to PR. -kevin (that was weird, I had to moderate my own comment – something happened!)

  3. YAY! Congratulations, Kevin!

  4. Thank you Karen, much appreciated. -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.