Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ian Thorpe's Comeback Continues In Luxembourg, Makes Late Change to Training Regime

This weekend Ian Thorpe competed at the Euro Meet in Luxembourg. His efforts of 50.82 (heats) and 50.79 (7th in the final)  were both post-comeback bests in the 100m Free. 

His 200m Free time (1:51.51) was down on his swim from Melbourne two weeks ago, although showed some positives by recording a faster 100m split of 53.5. The second 100m, unfortunately, was a battle (splits below).

Melbourne 1:50.79 - 25.6 / 28.1 / 28.3 / 28.5
Luxembourg 1:51.51 - 25.7 / 27.7 / 28.8 / 29.1

The real news regarding Thorpe's comeback came not so much from his times in Luxembourg, but the last minute change to his training regime in the lead up to trials, less than 7 weeks away.

According to Nicole Jeffrey in The Australian, Thorpe together with Gennadi Touretski, Leigh Nugent and performance scientist Bernard Savage have come up with the following late changes to try and save his attempt to make London 2012:

Fitness - Thorpe is lacking cardiovascular fitness and needs to get leaner. For the first time during his comeback, Thorpe will turn to dry land training. This means a lot of skipping, cycling and treadmill work as there is not enough time to get this fitness back simply from pool work.

According to coach Touretski, "When he swam the 400m, his fitness came from the work he did in the pool but now he's not training enough to get that fitness.  He thought what he was doing was enough to swim sprints but it isn't. The key thing is that his athletic level is not in place. So he must spend more time doing cardiovascular fitness work."

Motivation - Thorpe now has a new training partner in the shape of Russia's Andrey Grechin. The addition of a world class guy to train alongside should be beneficial and Grechin has speed to burn. Last year he was a 22.1 / 48.5 swimmer.

Confidence - Thorpe's lack of racing in the last 6 years has led to a loss of confidence and has caused him to swim within himself thus far. He will now have a simulated race race practice once a week, as well as having a tune up race in Zurich three weeks before trials.

I like all these moves, every one is a positive move for Thorpe... but I would have liked to have seen them 6 months ago, not two months away from the trials. Getting back fitness after a 6 year hiatus is not something you can conjure up a quick fix for, not doing any dry land training until now makes no sense. Janet Evans, who is training for the 400m and 800m Free, is doing dry land training.

It is also interesting to note Touretski's change of tack. Previously he has been nothing but positive towards Thorpe, but now he is throwing in phrases such as 'he thought what he was doing was enough' and 'he's not training enough'.  This language is not dissimilar to the type of quotes Bob Bowman gave when he was trying to get Michael Phelps' mind back on training, but Touretski is saying this 8 weeks out from trials. It is the type of talk that indicates all might not be going quite so peacefully in Switzerland.

One of the last semblances of hope to cling to is that Thorpe is a big guy, and as a result will drop huge chunks of time when he is rested. After Touretski's comments, the concern now is that Thorpe simply hasn't done enough work to be able to have such an effective taper.


  1. I agree that it seems to be cutting it close. I guess I'm just hoping that maybe they know something we don't and Thorpe will whip out something amazing at Trials. I wonder if things don't goes as well as he wants, if he'll continue competing?

  2. The frustration from the quote could just be from knowing that crunch time is coming and natural stress that comes with it. I don't think that it means that Thorpe is necessarily off the pace for what he needs to do in 2 months.

    On the bright side, Thorpe went out in 53.5, which is only 0.2 off of what Sun Yang went out in yesterday to swim 146.8. Take it how you want, but 5 seconds is a lot to lose over the second 100.

  3. AT this stage in Australia many of his competitors are way off qualifying times. The whole summer there have only been a handful of Q times.

    The trials are not just sudden death but have the guillotine time chop also.

    I have no idea what is going on but everyone is very very slow .

  4. Magnussen, Targett, Abood and McEvoy are certainly not "very very slow".

    And then in the trials you thrown in Sullivan, Roberts, prosser, D'orsogna then it will be very very very hard for Thorpe to qualify even for the last place in the relay.

    he might have better chance in the 200 free.

    so I was right when I said that Thorpe didn't have nearly as much muscle definitions. It's just baffling if not outstandingly stupid for an aspiring sprinter not to do dryland training these days. I could understand Thorpe philosophy because he didn't have to do it to win them all during his peak, but REALLY, Touretsky????? You are a coach specializing in training greatest sprinters, FFS!!

  5. Something that hasn't really been looked at is how Thorpe's comeback will affect Touretski's legacy.

    He's been living off Popov and Klim's success for a little while now, but this apparent lack of dry land training doesn't look good.

    Looking back to an earlier article back in August, it said "Thorpe is swimming 50km a week as well as doing five strength and conditioning sessions on dry land. And this week, Touretski is also introducing two tennis sessions a week to aid his co-ordination and help him develop new skills."

    Are we to believe that this training regime wasn't stuck to?

  6. It seems Gennady has been so much more lenient with Thorpe than how he used to be with Popov/Klim.
    I understand it would be hard for Gennady to boss around Thorpe.

  7. Tom, even if they stuck to the training regime in August of "five strength and conditioning sessions on dry land", it still doesn't sound like as nearly close to anything top sprinters are doing in dryland these days.

  8. If Thorpe's comeback bid does fall flat, which is a very real possibility, how much does this hit Touretski's reputation?

    1. Not sure Touretski's reputation would be too adversely affected by Thorpe's possible failure. It'd take a bump, no question, but he did coach Popov & Kilm and their legacy remains intact.

      As with everyone else, though, I am surprised that, at this late date, they're adding dryland. Seems too little, too late, as many others have commented.

  9. Remember that Thorpe's comeback is a long term plan (possibly 5 years). Even if he does not qualify for 2012, if Thorpe swims 143/47mid in 2014, his comeback will be viewed as a success.

    1. If Thorpe doesn't go to London, the comeback is over. I don't believe he'll stick it out.

    2. I agree.
      He should have made his comeback one year earlier.

  10. You guys are freaking out .The bottom line is that Thorpe has successfully turned around the blob thing which happens to most athletes on retirement. Factoring in the reasons he left the sport - he hated it - his return to competing is a remarkable effort.

    Whether he can revisit an OCD lifestyle is more the point.

    He has to find a way to avoid known (to him not us ) pits . Piling on the guy is just bullying.

    As stated -so far he is not out of range for a solid trials effort. He has always said he might 'fail' in his Olympic bid but really it is hardly a failure .

    There will plenty of other top swimmers not going to London.

  11. His training partner Andrey Grechin went 50.17 at the Trofeo Citta di Milano, 0.6 seconds faster than Thorpe. Considering Grechin went 48.59 last year tapered, it's a good sign for Thorpe.

  12. True Tom - Gretchin will be a help in pace training.

    This w/end we get to see the first serious hitout from likely competitors in Sydney at the state titles.

    This is the meet Thorpe should be at with Maggie aiming for sub 48.

  13. There's difference between Grechin and Thorpe. Grechin already had fitness, muscles, cores, while Thorpe is still rebuilding.

    Basically Thorpe now only has 2 or 3 more weeks of heavy trainings before he starts taper.
    He's cutting it very very close.

  14. Magnussen aiming for a sub 48 hit out -not Thorpie.

  15. OMG I just ploughed thru Lordy's dour article on the psychology & physiology of geriatric swimmers.

    Heck . Can't figure out if it is closer to the Twilight Zone or that movie with all the never aging people around the pool.

    Cor Blimey -does Lordy really think he is more enlightened that Spitz?

    Craig - go for a long walk away from the computer.

  16. anon, that's exactly what I thought when reading Craig Lord's article

    How on earth did Lordy compare Evans/Thorpe with Torres??

  17. Aswim - I think I am bored with the whole comeback thing. I saw the Janet Evans thing & every sentence began with ...You know & ended with you know.

    Lets face it . Blahblah blah to them all.

  18. I have forgiven lordy's errant posting. I now see he has referred to Magnussen as 'James The Cold Gun ".

    All hail the great Kate Bush.