It all started slowly here in Gothenburg. The outdoor 50m pool was first to open and our masters group trained twice a week. I tried to get at least another swim in ever week as well. Of course, due to my LASIK I wasn’t able to start back with them until late June, but it was good to be back. The masters training ended in July and I tried to keep going to the pool 2 to 3 times a week in addition to 2 gym sessions. It was an outdoor pool, which seem to be quite popular here in Sweden and I love swimming in outdoor pools when the weather is any way decent. So, between the pool and local beaches I had the best tan at the end of the summer since I worked as a beach lifeguard & swimming teacher in the USA. It was obvious it would take time, but I was looking forward to getting back into shape and competing again.
In September everything was looking good but getting consistent training in was tricky. Training when I lived back in my hometown was easy to plan, I could train twice a day for a few days a week, I usually had enough space in the lanes to do whatever training I wanted, and I was able to balance it all so that I had 2 rest days per week despite a high number of training sessions. Here it isn’t so easy. I live in a great location, but still getting to the pool takes slightly longer than back home. The membership for the nearest pool only allows one swim per day, and while my work schedule is flexible it doesn’t really allow me to do double training sessions. Though when I switch gyms, I might be able to squeeze an extra quick session in. Despite this I worked out a rough plan that would allow me to train most days and has an allowance for the occasional missed day if something work or family related pops up. I also concluded that I will probably not have enough work done to be able to swim the 200m like I usually do, so instead I’m going to focus on sprints in competitions. Of course, I can’t do an awful lot of sprinting in some of the packed public sessions that I train in, but at least I can work on building an aerobic base when that happens.
With all of this in mind, at the start of September I had a rough training plan and a goal for the year. I then had what was probably the worst run of training in my life. I would get two weeks or so of full training done, then something would happen. My daughter and wife caught Covid so the whole family had to isolate for a week. Next a heavy gym session plus a freak accident doing housework caused a rotator cuff injury, a kind I haven’t had before. It meant I couldn’t do much freestyle and had to focus on Breaststroke, Backstroke and kick for two weeks. It also meant a lot less upper body work in the gym and after the 2 weeks I had to reintroduce everything slowly. Unfortunately, the alternative gym work I did caused another injury. I thought I had simply injured my glutes, but after a few weeks it got so bad I had to see a physio who told me it was a bulging disk, probably the same one I injured earlier in the summer. The disk was hitting the sciatic nerve and meant that I couldn’t tumble turn in the pool and had to limit my gym work again. This happened in October but got progressively worse and was diagnosed (when it was really bad) in November about 3 weeks before the Swedish Masters and didn’t heal completely until early January (as in I could finally tumble turn for the whole session without pain). This of course also effected what I could and could not do in the gym. While I have gotten a lot of strength back, in terms of lifts I am still a good bit off what I was lifting around September and earlier in the year.
Swedish Masters 2021
When the program of events was made known I toyed with a few different ideas. I figured I wouldn’t be able to do my usual build and taper, so I looked at some events I haven’t done in a while or have never done. I also tried to select things that wouldn’t have many entries so I would have better chances of medals. As the weeks went on, I realised some choices were a bit unrealistic and when I injured my back I had to take out anything that had more than one tumble turn in a row. To be honest up until the day of the competition I wasn’t sure I would even be able to do one tumble per race. Luckily, I found out I could get away with one and in the 200 IM two, but in the cool down pool I found out I couldn’t do much more and trying to turn after races was agonizing so I avoided it. Despite this I surprised myself and almost hit my lifetime best in the 200 IM and got a lifetime best in the 50m Free but only by a few tenths of a second. I beat my lifetime best in the 50m Backstroke, but I definitely could have done better, and matched my lifetime best in the 50m Fly. I also swam my first, and possibly last, 200m Breaststroke. I picked up medals in everything, but to be fair that was partly down to the low numbers that attended especially in the 200m IM and 200m Breaststroke where I was the only competitor! This has led to a number of jokes about me now being a Breaststroker, or how I’m retiring undefeated in the 200m Breaststroke.
I really enjoyed the competition; it was 4 sessions held over 3 days and included a meal with a night out on the second day. It was fun to race in a new country with a new team, and to top it off our club won the overall cup as well. I have also discovered that Swedes are great at merchandising so I picked up a hoodie, bag, and hat, all of which have the Swedish flag and the swimming association’s logo on them and all produced by Arena.