Race Video: Michael Andrew 200 Back NAG Record, 1:45.14

  29 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | March 11th, 2014 | Club, Featured, News, Video

Reported by Braden Keith:

Michael Andrew has an uncanny knack for breaking National Age Group Records in threes. He did it at Winter Juniors, and he did it at the College Station Sectional last weekend. Along that vein, the young 14-year old had broken his third National-Age Group Record of the 2014 Jenks Sectional meet.

He swam a 1:45.14 in the 200 yard backstroke on Sunday evening which broke the 2013 record set by PEAK’s Benjamin Ho at 1:45.73 almost exactly a year ago.

The comparative splits:

Ho ’13 – 24.69/26.53/27.12/27.39 = 1:45.73
Andrew ’14 – 24.85/26.62/26.68/26.99 = 1:45.14

Andrew’s closing speed was impeccable in this race, and his splitting – in true USRPT fashion – was spot on, with a pair of 26.6 splits after his opening 50, followed by a 26.9.

Earlier in the meet, Andrew also broke National Age Group Records in the 50 free and in the 100 breast.

Comments

  1. SprintDude9000 says:
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    “24.85/26.62/26.68/26.69″ …”Andrew’s closing speed was impeccable in this race, and his splitting – in true USRPT fashion – was spot on, with a pair of 26.6 splits after his opening 50, followed by a 26.9.”

    That last split is a 26.6, not a 26.9?

  2. mikeh says:
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    Wow. That shows really incredible aerobic stamina. Three straight :26s, not at all how you would expect a sprinter to do it.

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      Never to forget though, that the aerobic and anaerobic capacities work intertwined – especially for this 75s race. Sure, his aerobic stamina is looking good, but at least 35% of that is coming from his anaerobic capacity. This method he is using is all about bioenergetics, in which the energy delivery to his muscles are very much in synch. Research states that between 30s-2min of high intensity work is primarily fast glycolysis, which is anaerobic. Now, I refuse to believe that that holds true for each individual, but it is important to consider when we see talents such as Michael here.

  3. Joel Lin says:
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    I am neither up or down on USRPT now…are we looking at the greatest training mechanism or just a great swimming talent?

    Don’t know. What I can see is one indirect benefit to USRPT…because this kid is not doing a droning daily diet of 8K workouts with longer repeat sets he is unlike most other athletes who have the “circle swimming muscle memory.” He does not circle the lane, not ever. Many world class athletes do and have to concentrate to avoid what they do without thinking 3-5 hours a day.

  4. Greg Tucker says:
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    Good point on circle swimming and having to “think” to break the habit. Not only is this not an issue for Michael, he now knows other way to swim other than fast. He trains that way, he swims that way. Neuromuscular adaptation.

  5. CoachGB says:
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    Comments about circle are overrated. A swimmer comes in on angle and go off on an angle. It is not a circle measure the the distance of spot out 15 ft on center and the a couplr feet toward lane line from the wall. Minuscule and to purposling try to change at meet could be an interence to what feels comfortable. Overrated.

  6. sven says:
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    So my question is: is this kid going to be terrible at long course and none of his short course success will carry over, or are his turns and underwaters awful? Cause I’m hearing both. Sometimes, amazingly, in the same comment, as though the individual segments of MA’s races are terrible, but they somehow add up to phenomenal times through happy thoughts and the mystical powers of P2Life.

    • Peterdavis says:
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      His turns are not terrible, his underwaters will improve from where they are – fine for a 14-year-old – and, he will be very fast long course. You can take that to the bank. Retail, commercial, central, savings, investment, merchant, offshore, river, piggy, spank. Just putting words together? Or places you can take that? Or…….both?

      • swimzlazy says:
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        I think he’ll be fast in long course, but who knows. It will be interesting to see. Since his turns currently aren’t great is a good indication for his success in long course.

        Still, the kid should at least do strength training aimed towards power off his walls. That is a huge area for him to improve upon. I think he should use all of next year as a test to see how effective a few minor tweaks to his training regimen will be leading up to the olympics and adjust in 2016 accordingly.

        I’m thinking back to 2007 when Phelps elevated his performance through the roof (Melbourne worlds) and there was no turning back from there. The difference was was disclosed by Bowman, increased strength and weight training.

        Does anybody here agree with me? Peter, give me some insight. I’m surprised this has not been pointed out. Who cares if he has a few meets during the season where he’s not putting up personal bests every swim meet. His ultimate focus should be the olympics and I say this because he is now proving that he can become world class.

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          I completely agree with you. Although USRPT does not believe in any dry-land methods, I cannot but to wonder what is going to happen when he matures as an adult and start building more muscle.

          At least, all swimmers should be engaged in some sort of injury preventative training. This is most easily done on land, whether or not USRPT believes in it or not. I truly hope that this kid does not get injured for overuse in his ligaments.

          I completely agree with you that Michael should be engaged in some sort of dry-land training in order to excel even more. However, I also believe that someone who knows MODERN swimming and also strength training should be in charge of his regimen. He needs to be trained like a swimmers should be trained on land. The earlier, the better.

          Deniz Hekmati
          Founder of Swimmer Strength

        • sven says:
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          Great comments. I both agree and disagree with you re: weights. It’s been pointed out by many, and I think that is some coaches major hangup on the program (believe it or not, most coaches like the idea of not having to grind their kids into dust every year). I apologize, though, this turned into a novel. Skip to the last paragraph for a TL;DR, if you’d like.

          I think Michael Andrew is the real deal, and I think USRPT is going to give some coaches new insight into the science behind the training. For the most part, I’m with Dr. Rushall that weights will be largely unnecessary (although there is an abstract on his own site where he notes a positive correlation between shoulder strength and the speed of a 25. He says that since you’ll never race a 25, it’s irrelevant, which I think is absolutely silly since the effort difference between a 25 and a 50 is nothing). The issue I would have is that I don’t know that there is a way to really build/retain any meaningful muscle without tiring Michael out so much that it affects his practices and/or range (more on that below).

          I agree that increasing the power he can push off the wall with would have a direct affect on his velocity leaving the wall. Dr. Rushall has made the assertion that because the orientation is 90 degrees off that any power gains made on land would have no effect, but I disagree. I submit that inertia substitutes for gravity well enough that the body can’t tell the difference. The same problem from above still applies, however.

          My theory on the swimming side of strength is that your power is only as effective as your catch. Too much power without a strong catch results in slipping/cavitation. But as your catch gets better, your muscles experience more resistance due to decreased slippage, and they get stronger and faster naturally to adapt to that. I’ve got no studies on hand to back it up, so anyone is free to disagree, but it’s what makes sense to me.

          As far as it being okay for there to be meets where Michael isn’t at/near top condition: USRPT is completely dependent on individualized and near-instant feedback. If you can’t hold the pace for a meaningful number of repititions, then you must not be ready for that pace and so you should use a slower one. You instantly know what you’re capable of at that point in the season. If you’re fatigued from weight training, the feedback you get isn’t consistent with what you’re actually capable of. The entire point of the philosophy is that a swimmer should theoretically be able to consistently drop throughout the entire season. I can’t think of very many ways to integrate USRPT with weight training without compromising the whole process.

          You could go a hybrid route, and sacrifice a practice every mon/wed/fri for a weight session, so instead of 11 practices you have 8 practices+3 weight sessions. But think about what that would do to Michael’s range across events. He can be exceptional at everything despite his low yardage because each practice is dedicated to only 2-4 events (at least in Rushall’s model, I can’t speak for exactly how Michael and Peter have applied it, since I know they have their own variations on some things). It takes two practices every day to be able to train specifically for every single event. Take away 3 of them and you either have to make the individual practices more exhausting or you’ve got to drop, or accept decreased performance in, some events. This could be a valid option if/when Michael decides to specialize, but why decide what to train for at 14 when you have no clear “best” stroke?

          TL;DR I don’t see strength training outside the pool as being compatible with the core concepts of USRPT, although I think options exist if you’re willing to specialize. The ultimate focus of the Andrews IS the Olympics, as you say it should be, but moreso beyond 2016. Rio is something they will shoot for, but hearing them talk about it, the expectations that are on him to go are almost entirely from people who don’t know him. Their goal is to develop him to be the absolute best swimmer that he can be, and I don’t believe they’re willing to rush that by choosing events now just so he can *maybe* make one event in Rio.

          • Peterdavis says:
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            Hallo Sven. Or hei, hej, moi, moin, guten tag, tere, hyvaa paivaa, god dag, or hello. Hope you aren’t from like Poughkeepsie or Detroit or something, because I’d feel dumb.

            I love how you(and a bunch of others!) have hopped on the protracted posting bandwagon. It’s a bumpy ride, but, not unlike attempting an operation where you would gain the use of robotic legs, is totally worth it. Makes for a better forum experience, too…a “Joe Rogan[ish] Experience,” even. Yes, a podcast. Like 2005. Yes.

            Just wanted to add that I am firmly in the camp that there is a whole lot that can and should be done outside the pool to achieve whatever it is your goals are within the pool. This includes a whole bunch of stuff I mention down below in my next post. I am very skeptical of any claim to the opposite, though I am very open-minded to the idea. I just don’t read it as meshing with reality, no matter how hard I try. With the right coach/program/routine/movements, it clearly makes swimmers faster.

            Reading Rushall’s work, I feel like I do when reading recent medical research. Statistically, in 20 years, a vast majority of the current published medical material will be proven, or at least thought, to be bunk. Some is sound and sticks. Some is mixed, with an observation or conclusion that is either lucky or more of a catch-up than a breakthrough, surrounded by hooey. I am open to backing and running with USRPT, but I have to seriously question any insistence that strength(etc.) training is irrelevant.

            It seems more like the swim coaching and training world has been floundering in the wake of some devastating early pioneers of training in the sport, searching for direction, for decades. Rushall to the rescue(assuming many things, as an ass like me is apt to do)! Of course, USA coaches have done great things, practically forever. But we are not, as a whole, dynamic, or particularly outstanding in our adaptation to new ideas and techniques. The best coaches always have been. The group, not so much. So perhaps Rushall just built the bridge that stops us from having to make the leap – after all, we’re catapedaphobes when it comes to this stuff.

            Strength-training and injury prevention techniques across all sports have been cutting edge for at least some years now, and were either less mired down by their own history, or, more likely, less weighed down by the non-individualization type approach inherent to the group coaching dynamic that exists, and has existed forever, in our sport. In other words, Rushall has a sharp knife, obviously, and he is sharpening wood with the swim training. But he is attempting to sharpen iron with the strength training. Maybe?

          • sven says:
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            It would be naive of me not to acknowledge programs that have used strength/dryland training and produced world class athletes. Like SwimzLazy brought up, Phelps didn’t start lifting until he was around 19, IIRC, and he and Bowman believe that to be a huge factor in his successes at Beijing vs. Athens. Also, Salo (a personal favorite among the coaching greats), Marsh, Brett Hawke, and so many more include strength and power training as a cornerstone.

            I do agree that the right swim program coupled with the right dryland/lifting program can produce great results. However, I think that USRPT so strictly allocates the time and energy of the athlete that it’s near impossible to add weights without either removing practices or slowing the athlete down in the middle of the season.

            I mentioned a way that USRPT could possibly work synchronously with a weights program (similar to how Salo runs USC, really), but I have no idea if the Andrews will ever choose to go this route. Personally, I think that for an all-rounder, like Michael is at present, two swim sessions is the answer. But if/when he starts to specialize, will it be better to trade in for some dryland? The consensus seems to be yes, but there aren’t many well-documented recent examples of up-and-coming elite sprinters who have no intention of lifting, so if they stay on this path we’ll have at least one interesting data point on the matter.

            On incorporating a smaller routine for injury prevention and building joint stability, I agree. Especially having seen his breaststroke kick. It’s possible that the low volume he does will allow him to maintain that kick without MCL or other knee stress as he gets older, but it’s worth doing some preventative work on it regardless. I think that kind of work can reasonably be done without affecting his swimming.

            My issue with reading Rushall’s work is that he deals so much in absolutes, and oftentimes these absolute statements are based on extremely small studies. He seems more invested in supporting his preconceived theories than searching for the best method with an open mind. Also, I think a lot of the issues that he seems deliberately contrarian on (i.e. admitting that 25 speed increased with power but insisting that that has no relevance since there is no 25 event) are to further set apart his body of work from “traditional” methods. However, as far as race pace goes, I think he’s on the right track.

            I don’t think that coaches will be using Rushall’s methods in 20 years, but I think they will (along with Salo and other trailblazers) act as an inspiration for coaches to be more innovative and common sense with their planning. He presents it as the alpha and omega of swim programs, but the idea that methods of training in the sport can shift from mostly wrong to exactly right is unlikely at best. I do, however, think that his overall approach to conditioning will be something that changes the game for most coaches, and that Michael’s success with race pace will help validate the philosophy.

            In a field where many coaches’ idea of innovation is thinking up a more clever ladder set, I try very hard in my coaching to base my decisions off of common sense rather than conventional wisdom. Using race pace as the backbone of a program instead of aerobic capacity certainly appeals to my common sense.

          • Peterdavis says:
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            Seriously good comment…post of the year. I am glad to know you are coaching, somewhere! We’re better for it.

        • Peterdavis says:
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          Personally, I would put a lot of thought into his strength and conditioning future, and make sure that it stays mostly in his future.

          He is clearly a well-built young man, who has strength and explosion in spades, either naturally or through the training he already engages in, or, through both, as is almost definitely the case.

          I know he already does at least some ‘dryland,'(rings, for example) and comes from a South African rugby background(which, in my experience, points to an athletic and holistically active lifestyle….your miles may vary). And again, I don’t think his turns are that poor, or that his underwaters lack potential. He has yet to put virtually any focus on his underwaters. That is fine, for a boy of 14. That will come, unforced, with just a touch of guidance. Which he gets. 14.

          The age of ‘maturity’ for a male swimmer has been pushed upwards, for various reasons, not the least of which was/is the presence of the older Michael in the sport for the last 14 years – incidentally, the younger Michael was but a few months old when Big Mike competed in Sydney. I don’t believe we will ever again see a male representing the US at age 15.

          The money and exposure Mike P. was able to bring to the sport has allowed our men to not just be financially able to stay in the sport, but socially able to as well. They can call themselves professionals…’Like Phelps.’

          Gone are the days of the 20-something Olympian answering the same condescending question over and over again, at home, at the store, at the tailgate: ‘So, what are you going to do with your life? Like for work?’ ‘Swim mof*kker! Like Phelps!’

          My point is, that he not only has time, he has time to wait. It is a long road, longer than in the past, and I would say that he should approach his strength and conditioning in the way that Peter currently is approaching everything with his son: cautiously and thoughtfully. Seriously, try to meet this guy, and, of course, his son. There is a reason that everyone who has, has been both impressed and vocal in their support of them.

          If I were in charge, first thing we’d do is attack Switzerland – those smug neutralists. But second, I would do what we do with the swimmers I am currently involved with and what we did with my former club – a highly-successful(in terms of JO and high school championships and college placements) water polo club – and get a hold of the current top of the line strength and conditioning content. We use Bridge, now, and with my former club, from my former s&c coach Nick Folker(RSA, like the Andrews) at Cal. I am sure there is a website or just google it, or check out various articles on swimswam about it. I know a whole bunch of groups are using it locally, and, knowing Nick well, I would assume that it will be huge in no time. The content is, literally, the best that is available to our sport. Bar none.

          Bridge has been beyond good for us(and for me personally, while struggling with major shoulder and knee injury for several years). What I am espousing is bodyweight and lighter-end resistance exercises that focus on injury prevention, stability, flexibility, dynamic(explosive) movement, and yes, some strength and power, while building the best possible basis for future strength and power gains, when and where it will really pay dividends.

          Building that basis will be key for the rest of Michael’s career and life. Moving too quickly on any ‘bright ideas’ involving potentially irresponsible and dangerous movements and resistance levels, at his age, despite the ridiculous success of his clearly ‘different’ in-water training methods, would seem to be inviting catastrophe. Build that strength base as slowly as his progress will allow, but address all of the other areas that are dismissed by the more traditional coaching mindsets; the areas listed above.

          I have full faith that he(and his father, and his family – as it really is a family affair) will find a coach with their head on straight, who isn’t ego-driven enough to view Michael’s success curve as transposable onto their own, if you know what I mean?

          The worst scenario would be if a heavy, barbell-themed routine were to be introduced without a proper background and basis in place, and/or without a concurrent routine geared towards injury-prevention, flexibility, an stability. I hope hope hope that doesn’t happen. I want to see him do well so badly that I would probably even pray for his health should that happen. And I usually only pray for my Niners and my Bears. Oh, and for the McRib to make a comeback. Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…..please satiate my desire for mutant ‘rib’ meat dipped in offensively off-color ‘brown’ sauce. I’ll stop drinking the holy water and re-writing the hymns. Amen.

    • David Guthrie says:
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      Deciding whether Michael is better at LC or SC is like picking which stroke he’s best at. Anyone who is still wondering if he can be successful in LC hasn’t been following his results. He already answered that question. LC, SC, any stroke, any distance up to 400. Unprecedented.

      • sven says:
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        that’s what I find so funny. Before the surge of race footage, we saw comments about how he could never swim at that level in long course. Now we have race footage, and we see comments about how his turns are bad and his underwaters need work… The lack of consistency is absurd to me. Now, I happen to agree that his push offs/underwaters need to get better, but, as I’ve said before, I’d be more worried if I saw a 14 year old who couldn’t improve a skill.

      • aswimfan says:
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        yes, Michael Andrew has proven he is equally as great in LCM as in SCY, up to 200. (His LCM 400 IM PB is still lagging behind his SCY, but he probably should be able to lower it by now).

        And in my opinion, his most astonishing record is the LCM 200 IM where he swam 2:04, which is a WR for a 14 yo.

        But unprecedented?
        I don’t think so. Have you not heard of Tracy Caulkins?

  7. bobo gigi says:
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    You will perhaps not believe me but Michael Andrew is scheduled to swim again this week, in long course, at the southern zone sectionals in Plantation, Florida.
    He is the Hosszu of men’s swimming! :)
    That’s probably his last big meet in long course before he turns 15.
    Another weekend of NAG records for him?
    Psych sheets here.
    http://www.teamunify.com/fgcspst/UserFiles/Image/2014szsspsych.pdf

    • aswimfan says:
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      So Michael Andrew is swimming the 400 IM. He should be able to chop off more than 10 seconds off his current PB of 4:40. The gold standard for a 14 yo is Phelps’ and Thorpe’s 4:24

    • Mike G. says:
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      I’m more interestred to see if he does the 400 Free. We’ve seen him go after the longer events lately and with the eye on 400 IM in Rio, as his father and him both said, it may be an event he does more of.

      • Rafael says:
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        All freestyle events on Rio will be nearly impossible for him to qualify.. I don´t see he Qualifying on 50 100 and 200.. 400 he may have a chance.. but with Sun and Park 2 medas are already taken.. if Agnel goes for it.. it is almost a lock.. And there is Bieldermann Horton Hagino who can push that.. even a 3:44 might not even be close enough to medal at Rio..

    • Rafael says:
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      Will he keep up that schedule after growing up? And With the same sucess level of Hosszu?

      • Mac says:
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        Of all male swimmers in the world, Michael Andrew is most likely to grow up to be like Katinka, I’m sure you’ll agree.

  8. Greg Tucker says:
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    Can one of the proponents of strength training please post studies that show a correlation to swimming speed or injury prevention. Not trying to be a smarta$$. I just don’t know the data.

    We use USRPT on our HS team. We only use power rack as a form of strength training. Rushall argues even that is non-specific. But a correlation to speed has been shown.

    Ok, back to my question for the group.

    • Peterdavis says:
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      I don’t want to be a smarta$$ either. I think it’s genetic.

      I’m on the road right now, so don’t have research time. I’ll try to check back later, and drop a few if I have time, but in the meantime, I’d like to caution that studies(in most all fields) can be lined up on both sides of an/the issue. We don’t have very high standards for publishing – which is a good thing, in my opinion. We are asked to weed out the worst ideas pre-publishing, and just the plain old bad ones, from the good ones, once they are set out in stone, in all their detail, in front of us. If that makes sense?

  9. Joel Lin says:
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    How could the impact of circle swimming races be overrated? If circle swimming adds 2 yards of distance in 100 yards, that is a 2% degradation. That is a crude guess…even if it is 1.5 feet that is a 0.5% degradation. I am pretty shocked coaches are non-plussed on the point.

    The French guy swims straight for two laps and Lezak’s GOAT leg is a bit too little and there is no Ocho for Phelps. But he didn’t. That’s the point. It matters…every 0.01 second and inch matters.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

GOLD MEDAL MEL, medal shot copy

Mel Stewart, aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, and USA Swimming. Mel has also worked as an Olympic analyst for ABC, NBC, EPSN, FOX SPORTS and TBS. At SwimSwam.com, Mel hosts Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com, a weekly report featuring the world’s fastest swimmers and Olympic medalists. Read More »