Michael Andrew Reborn Professionally: GMM presented by SwimOutlet.com

Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com

It has been a long road for Michael Andrew, the youngest swimmer to turn pro at the tender age of 14.  Peter Andrew, his coach and father, said:

“I think this (2018 U.S. Nationals) is the beginning of his career…because there is no more age group (swimming)… He’s got to step up.”

Michael did step up at the 2018 U.S. National Championships winning four national titles.  At only 19 years old,  it was a timely breakthrough performance netting him a position on Team USA through the 2019 FINA World Championships.

Michael’s often maligned training method, USRPT (ultra short race pace training), has taken hold in parts of the global swimming community, and it is gaining ground, but many critics stand firm that it does not work, or rather, it only works for the 50 sprints.  I have opinions about USRPT coming from the 1980s era of grinding distance, but it’s hard to argue against Michael’s closing speed to win the 100m breast at U.S. Nationals.

1ST QUESTION:  What do you think about USRPT now, after witnessing Michael’s incremental success over the last 5 years?

2nd QUESTION: Has Michael’s decision to go pro so young turned out as you expected?

3rd QUESTION – PREDICTIONS FOR PAN PACS: Based on the Pan Pac psych sheet, Michael’s swimming 100m breast, back, butterfly, and the 50m freestyle.

100m back and fly – PBs mark a success under the pressure of being on his first USA National A-Team.

100m breast – Getting on the podium is a success against the Japanese block of breaststroke talent.

50m free – Michael nets silver, 21.3.  Caeleb Dressel wins in 21.2. HOWEVER, I’m shaky on this, nervous about my prediction.  Here’s my conflict:  I was on deck at NCAAs to witness Dressel’s 17.6 50y free, and I’ve watched Michael’s back half speed in the 50m free race video at Nationals in Irvine over and over again. Michael is swimming great right now. Dressel’s taper appears to be in question after nationals. I think the extra time/rest will benefit Dressel more in Tokyo.

But who cares what I think… What do you think?

Follow Michael Andrew on Instagram here.  

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This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.

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Togger
2 years ago

USRPT clearly works for the sprints, unclear how useful it can be for mid-distance yet.

Be interesting to get Michael and his dad’s view on how far USRPT has affected his freestyle stroke (which breathing seems to screw up, presumably less of an issue if he’d been grinding heavy yards with mid/distance technique over winter).

Think he gets silver in the 50 free and 100 breast. Unless Troy’s had him on 14 km a day this week.

anon
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

As MA says, “It’s a work in progress” Kudos to his dad for not pushing his wants onto his son. My prediction is that as MA gains more success in the 100’s as he did at Nationals in the 100 breast, fly and even a PB in the 100 free, that he will have more confidence in the 100’s and 200 IM and will “explode” in those events in time.

Hswimmer
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

I believe he could throw down a massive 200 IM in the next few years if he builds up his endurance on each of the strokes equally

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Hswimmer
2 years ago

I can convince myself that he both can and can’t. His 100 free is the biggest impediment right now to me, if he can’t close there b/c his breathing messes him up then he’s hella screwed on the back-end of a 2 IM. But! He’s got more raw speed than pretty much anyone across all 4 strokes and has put up some real good LCM 2 IM times for an 18&U, so I wouldn’t be super shocked if he puts it together in the next few years. (Writing this out has made me v curious about what all-timers have been able to do across all 4 strokes in 100s LCM. I feel like he’s gotta be among the fastest breaststrokers… Read more »

Togger
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 years ago

Those that come to mind as having world class 50s of every stroke are Morozov and Manadou, but they haven’t swum tapered stroke 100s with any regularity and certainly not 200 IM. Lochte probably the most likely best combined time on 100s of every stroke? Difficult as Phelps never really swam 100 breast, even at PSS. I think MA will be able to learn a lot if Dressel takes 2IM seriously long course. World class 200 IMers in recent times (Phelps, Lochte, Cseh, Kalisz, Hagino, Hosszu, Ye etc.) have usually been training for 200s of a stroke and/or the 4IM. Dressel’s unlikely to swim a 200 stroke or the 400 IM, so he should prove a good litmus for MA… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

You appear to be very good at commenting.

And if you’re looking at 100s of fly, back and free Phelps is obviously the dude, but I have no idea what his 100 breast would’ve been. Lochte’s gotta be up there, but like…fly is about the same as MA, has him by like a second in back right now (prolly gonna be w/i a couple tenths after Pan Pacs?) and free is almost a two second Lochte advantage…that gets gobbled up by MA’s advantage on breast.

So I mean, that sorta bodes well for his 2 IM if he figured out that freestyle breathing thing, hah.

Hmmm.....
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

He faded badly in the freestyle legs of the 200IM last summer, when he said that event was ‘the focus’ all spring/summer long…

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

“200 IM is a sprint”.

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

200 IM might be a “sprint”, but it’s still “aerobic” in physiological nature. Given you’re tapping into that system almost exclusively about 30-35 seconds into action, and given his improvement in the 100Br and 100Fly, he’s probably not doing absolutely strict USRPT stuff (at least by its very definition) and hasn’t been doing that for a while.

Togger
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

Thanks, it will be interesting to see how USRPT translates, for an elite swimmer, to the longer distances.

Gorb
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

Disagree. We don’t know if usrpt works for sprints because we are dealing with a sample size of one. What we do know is that it works for Michael, and we don’t if another type of more traditional training would work better for him.
My opinion is that Michael would be successful with many different styles of training because he works hard and is an exceptional talent.

AA aa
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

MA uses USRPT for sprint training. It is possible to use USRPT for distance training but that’s not what he does.

20×100 at your per-100 pace for your 800 would prepare you well for a distance event but not for sprinting. Likewise 20×25 on :25 at per-25 pace of your 100 would prepare you well for a 100 but not for an 800.

Someone who wanted to only use USRPT but swim a range of distances could probably do so if they wanted.

But MA trains for sprints. Why do people expect him to do otherwise? And why is his personal focus on sprinting an indictment on USRPT as a whole for distance or middle distance?

Blackflag82
Reply to  AA aa
2 years ago

I’m curious if you have any examples of mid distance or distance swimmers at an elite level who use usrpt? 30×100 at 1500 pace is a great set as shown by Perkins decades ago…but it was part of 80k+ weeks. Race pace sets and usrpt are very different things, and I have my doubts that usrpt can work for anything over 100 and maybe a 200 IM.

MICHAEL
Reply to  Blackflag82
2 years ago

I came from a program that was heavily focused on quality over quantity, but we still had somewhat of a base that we would pull from. 50s at race pace, 1:00min to represent 200s and 2:00 min to represent 100s were weekly sets building up to 28 or so total 50s throughout a training cycle. But we still mixed in a lot of kick sets and heavy fin work. Still rarely went over 6k a practice. Certainly a far cry from USRPT but nowhere near these 10k and 12k practices I would hear friends of mine talk about from other teams. We certainly had some national and Olympic trials qualifiers in a variety of distances in this training program. I… Read more »

Top Dog
Reply to  Blackflag82
2 years ago

Top Dog

fluidg
Reply to  AA aa
2 years ago

Kieran Perkins dominated the 1500m doing RPT, and half the training distance of his American counterparts. His bread and butter set was a broken 1500—15×100 on 1:05 holding under 1:00. His workouts were rarely over 10k.

Blackflag82
Reply to  fluidg
2 years ago

Half the training? Perkins averaged 8k a practice and generally swam 80k+ per week. He also did almost half of his workouts at a relatively slow pace and was doing things like stationary biking 5 days a week. Yeah, he used rpt, but arguably there was more in common with “traditional training” than there was with anything resembling usrpt.

https://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/trainh35.htm

Vic
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

Coach Troy just presses the stop watch and records times. He doesn’t give MA swim sets. At least not yet.

fluidg
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

I know from personal experience that RPT works for 200s and I suspect it works for any distance. It’s a matter of breaking the distance into smaller, proportional pieces. For 200s, I do sets of 4×50 on short rest, with recovery between rounds. The goal time for each 50 is my 200 split, which in training requires an all-out effort, especially on #4. People think USRPT is easy. If done right, it is the most unpleasant, painful and mentally demanding way to train. I’m not saying longer distance sets aren’t painful and demanding, but it’s a different kind of effort. One of the most important aspects of USRPT is repetition. You do the same exact thing over and over. The… Read more »

Lpman
2 years ago

Great swimmer, no doubt. To me, he has not lived up to the hype. At this point in his career, I thought he would not quite be Phelpsian, but the next closest thing. He has a good half second drop in all of his 50 strokes to compete with the best. He is able to perform at his peak for multiple meets, but I think his endurance suffers from his training. I think he also benefitted because not everyone was at their best for Pan Pacs. Regardless, tremendous swimmer, and I wish him the best.

fluidg
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

Years ago, I was at nationals and asked Tom Jager why he didn’t swim the 100 backstroke. (I think he held the American Record at the time). His answer: I haven’t worked on backstroke. That answer blew my mind wide open. Even the best have to work on every event specifically. Until then, I thought everything came naturally to great swimmers. So, MA is training all 4 strokes, which takes a lot of time and energy. He can’t train for every stroke at every distance. He has to choose and narrow it down. Right now, it’s 50s. Later, he may focus on the IMs. Over his career, he’ll shift his focus and keep things interesting.

Rafael
Reply to  fluidg
2 years ago

Isn´t it easier to build an Aerobic base now and go down to Shorter events as you get older? It might be difficult for him to go to longer events as he gets older.

Admin
Reply to  Rafael
2 years ago

I think the USRPT premise is that ‘aerobic base’ isn’t necessary for a 2 minute race. It’s necessary for the way people traditionally train for a 2 minute race (with 150 minute workouts), but USRPT, in theory, wouldn’t ever hit “aerobic” levels. But, I’m sure there’s someone more well-versed on the physiology that can correct my notions if I’m wrong.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Lpman
2 years ago

Like, what hype is he not living up to? Obviously he had a biiit more press than most swimmers from his tween years until now, but I feel like it’s hard to have expected MORE out of him, to this point. At least reasonable people shouldn’t have expected more. He won 4 LCM national titles as a teenager across a range of strokes. That’s pretty good!

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

That’s the thing – there’s so many ways for him to be “successful!” Fastest in one event, plenty would take that. Fastest in all 4 50s, more would take that. (But not all, because “fiddys arent reel swimmin.”) Wins one single Olympic gold in the 2 breast and then nothing ever again, also pretty successful!

It’s him not achieving exactly what *you* wanted him to that gets people all pissy and it’s so weird.

Coach Kyle Tek
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
2 years ago

Anybody think if he’s the best at all 4 50’s, someday, that’ll translate into being top in all 4 100’s? Could that be a future goal for him once he clears, “fastest swimmer, period” off his list?

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
Reply to  Coach Kyle Tek
2 years ago

Thing is, I just don’t see him being a peak Dressel in either 50 free or 50 fly in the years to come. And Peaty is the king for 50 breast right now. Not saying Andrew can’t get to that level, but beating Dressel and Peaty would be an enormous task.

Rafael

Govorov 50 fly WR seems a lot out of anyone reach by now too.. even Dressel..
Can´t see Andrew becoming the fastest in any,even less at all 50 strokes.. Peaty, Kolesnikov, Govorov and Dressel/Proud seem to have more speed on their main event than Andrew trying to get all 4 at the same time

MICHAEL
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 years ago

Agreed and I still feel like it’s hard to compare what Phelps did at age 18-19 and what MA had done at 19, mainly because I do feel like the competition is tighter. For example, in 2003, Niel Walker won the men’s 50 Free in 22.37 at age 26. The fastest 18 year old was 23.55 and the world record was 21.64. The 100 Free A final was won in 49.43 by Scott Tucker and the 8th place finisher was 50.99 (and only 1 person in the B final beat that 8th place time). Blake peroni won the men’s 100 Free in 48.08 and 8th place was 48.65. And a number of people considered this somewhat lackluster given that nobody… Read more »

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
Reply to  MICHAEL
2 years ago

You can’t just base Phelpsian performances off times now, but also by margins they beat the competitors by. Phelps beat everyone else in the 200 fly by 3 seconds at 2007 worlds, 2.7 seconds in the 200 free, won the 400 im by 3 seconds, etc. Swimmers will get faster as time progresses.

Rafael
Reply to  MICHAEL
2 years ago

And we have to measure how is he against the competition.. No need to have a Phelps like results, but pick what Milak is doing..

Franklin Guill
2 years ago

I think Michael Andrew is a talented athlete and his training has done well for him. However, other than the 100 Breast which is most likely his best stroke, he really cannot swim 100 Meters well. At nationals he began to fall off in all other stokes. He did not make the top 2 in the 100 fly or 100 back. He fell short in the 100 free. USRPT is good for 50s but not for 100s which to me separate the top swimmers from the others. Plus I do not see him getting a world record anytime soon but I could be wrong.

Admin
Reply to  Franklin Guill
2 years ago

He didn’t swim the 100 back at Nationals.

franklin
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

oops I meant the 50 back

Swimnerd
Reply to  Franklin Guill
2 years ago

The problem with his 100 free is A) his breathing and B) his stroke is short vs what the 100 LC requires. His 100 fly was still top 3 and I truly believe his 100 back will be the surprise of his Pan Pac meet. Let’s not forget in yards the kid goes 18 high and in the low 3:40s in the 4IM. It takes time to swim LC well, heck Dean Farris and Tate Jackson just put together good 100 frees this summer. He’s doing fine and I’m excited to see him continue to develop. Just because somethings different from the traditional norm doesn’t mean we should condemn it. His 50s are world class and the 100s should be… Read more »

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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