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.