WATCH: Michael Andrew Analyzes His Own 1:56.8 IM & That Freestyle Split

Some interesting insight from Michael Andrew‘s latest vlog, as the U.S. National Teamer breaks down his nation-leading 200 IM from earlier this month.

The 20-year-old Andrew is vlogging daily through the current coronavirus/COVID-19 quarantine. This time around, he plays the race video of his 1:56.83 200 IM from the Des Moines Pro Swim Series, giving commentary over the top about his race strategy and how he can improve.

Andrew has done some cool research, compiling a bunch of the top 200 IM swims in the past three years and breaking them out by split to see where each of his strokes line up.

A few notes we pulled out:

  • Butterfly:
    • Andrew clearly feels good about his butterfly. He talks about not pushing the first 50 as a major part of his race plan, but also notes he had the fastest fly split in the world for the season at 24.07. (That’s even faster than Ryan Lochte‘s split of 24.89 in his world record swim).
  • Backstroke:
    • Andrew points out his ‘crossover pullout’ on backstroke, which appears to be the top-arm breakout that’s started to become popular.
    • Tempo is a major focus on backstroke, as Andrew says he can’t swim the leg like a 200 back without losing a huge amount of speed.
  • Breaststroke:
    • Andrew thought his breaststroke pullout looked “a little messy.” Andrew says he was short on air and rushed his pullout some, and now sees that as a place to improve.
    • He also notes the fatigue in his lats and arms in the final 15-meters of breaststroke, which is causing him to dive down with his hands in the recovery phase. He says that’s a key focus, and sees his 33.4 breaststroke split as a place for major improvement, setting 32 as a goal.
  • Freestyle:
    • Fear not, commenters – Andrew is well aware of his freestyle shortcomings in the IM. “This freestyle looks rough,” he laughs. “My freestyle is by far the weakest link in my entire 200 IM.”
    • He notes that the 200 IM is a relatively new race for him, and he’s still learning how to balance fatigue in that race, specifically.
    • Of the swims Andrew has compiled, he’s at the top with his fly split and middle of the pack in back and breast, but his freestyle is well behind the rest of the field.
    • In looking at some underwater footage, Andrew notices that his arms are dropping very deep underwater on freestyle. He compares to Andrew Seliskar one lane over, and says he plans to try to develop more of what Seliskar is doing, “lifting the hand almost, before he sets his catch,” allowing him to get a high elbow and efficient catch.

You can watch the vlog below. Andrew starts analyzing his IM race at the 4:12 mark:

A few other interesting notes from the vlog:

  • Andrew expresses full support of postponing the 2020 Olympics to next year, which mirrors the sentiment of most athletes we’ve heard from.
  • Under quarantine rules, most athletes have struggled to find places to train. Public pools have mostly closed. Andrew could previously train some in the ocean, but that, too, has been closed now.
  • Focusing on the positive, Andrew feels he’ll be stronger and more developed as an athlete by 2021, and sees that as an advantage of the Olympic delay.

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swimgeek
2 years ago

I really like the way MA takes total ownership over his swimming. He’s very articulate. Really one of the most open and interesting figures in swimming right now.

Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Ok. Again bringing up the elephant in the room. Is the ketogenic diet ideal for a nearly 2 min LCM race? I just see muscles screaming for fuel on that last 50. I bet the increased fat oxidation is associated with increased oxygen consumption and earlier failure.

ice age swimmer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

would be worth experimenting with a different diet, even quietly! But he and Dad seem 100% committed to keto.

Wondering
2 years ago

30+ free split, yet again….

Briand
2 years ago

He should also swim the 100 free as much as possible to work this out. If he can get his 100 free time down to 48 low, his non-sprint freestyle problem has been resolved. Being the top 200 im guy is much more impressive than being a 50 stroke specialist. He might eventually be a 48.0/50.5/52.5/58.5 swimmer which should make for an almost unbeatable im. Seto probably peaks this year.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Briand
2 years ago

I would say the 200 free. Lochte, Phelps Hagino, Litherland, Seto, Seli, Foster, and so on can all do 1:47 or better (and really closer to 1:45 or better for the greats) in the 200 free. He should work his 200 free to get it under 1:50.

Briand
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

That would be ideal, but he hasn’t even mastered the 100 free yet. I don’t see him tackling the 200s, but an occasional 200 free makes sense. He is coming from the other side of the traditional imers. He is losing 1-2 seconds due to endurance but making up for it with speed and versatility. He should eventually get into 1:54 territory just through experience and strength, assuming he solves the freestyle even partially. He has the potential to be the top guy in this event, but it will require complete focus.

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Briand
2 years ago

Being able to swim all 4 individual 100s doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to swim a 200 IM. The energy system requirements are different for 100s vs 200s.

Vlad can swim all 4 strokes really well but there’s a reason why he never even attempts the 200 IM.

swimgeek
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
2 years ago

Vlad is legit in back (53.7 LC), but his best 100 fly I can find is :57 from 2011

Sparkle
2 years ago

I’m beginning to think what makes Michael Andrew so polarizing is that he is not a “natural” freestyler – because he trains USRPT, he hasn’t done all of the grueling freestyle conditioning sets that so many of are used to. I think most swimmers can pull together a decent final 50 because they’re used to swimming large volume freestyle sets and sprinting at the end. MA’s training has basically allowed him to train all 4 strokes much more equally, it’s only natural that he struggles more at the end of longer races.

Ladyvoldisser
Reply to  Sparkle
2 years ago

He not good enough to swim in college? Of is he too stuck up?

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ladyvoldisser
2 years ago

Insightful. smh

Col. Trautman
Reply to  Sparkle
2 years ago

Are you suggesting USRPT sets are not grueling?

Togger
Reply to  Col. Trautman
2 years ago

No, but they’re pretty evenly distributed across all strokes. Most of us swum at least 50% freestyle, because the vast majority of aerobic conditioning sets have more than 25% freestyle. Inevitably, that means most swimmers have a reasonable mid distance freestyle technique (how many of us would call free our 4th stroke?).

Old school training led to quick mid distance free (for the men, 2000 Olympics times would be most competitive today in the 200 and 400 frees) and that’s the type of technique that you’re using to close a 200 IM.

Developments in training techniques, of which MA is the most extreme example but you also see it at programs like Virginia, have led to big drops… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

The technique gamechanger was Thorpe. That’s the stroke that people have been emulating ever since. You don’t have to do high yardage to learn it or develop it. You just have to commit to it. There’s zero reason you couldn’t try 25’s off the blocks doing it. It has nothing to do with yardage. It had to do with the genius and feel for the water of Thorpe, then Phelps, Lochte and so on who developed the style and whether you study and practice it. For USRPT, it would result in slower 25’s, and maybe even 50’s in SCY compared to the way he probably swims them with few breaths. He’d have to be disciplined to accept that, and start… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Sparkle
2 years ago

The one deficiency of the USRPT sets he does for free (and primarily in a 25-yard pool) is that he’s not forced to learn how to swim fast freestyle breathing every arm cycle. That’s his big weakness. He’s fast when he no-breathes, but technically breaks down when he has to breathe. He should work on a loping stroke, some hybrid free. He should also try breath-holding on the wall, or blowing out all his air before his USRPT repeat, to force him to do his SCY 25’s and 50’s breathing every stroke. If he can figure that out, he’ll be unstoppable. Even Dressel says he has 3 different freestyles depending on the distance.

Togger
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I agree it’s the technique not the yardage, but the yardage encouraged developing a good mid distance free technique.

As you say, psychologically it’s hard to make yourself swim slower 25s/50s on decent rest for the sake of the technique, whereas when guys were doing 20×200 as a main set, they developed a solid mid distance technique as the quickest way to get through the damn thing.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

While I agree, those sets also created the Janet Evans windmill and Steve Holland’s two-beat kick freestyle. The fastest mid-distance freestylers before Thorpe (and even for a while after him – PVDH) did not look like the freestyle of today. It was really Thorpe and the technical decision to go heavy 6-beat kick and loping free that changed how people approached the 20 x 200 sets.

cbswims
2 years ago

I wish more elites would show this kind of analysis. ‘Behind the curtain’ view shows the level of study put into technique and how that directs future training.

Great stuff MA. Now go build some endurance!

leisurely1:29
2 years ago

Funny to think that even after this swim, people still REALLY doubted MA’s chances going into this summer, saying this was his peak. Now that everything’s shifted back a year, he’s almost become a favorite to win it come 2021 trials.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  leisurely1:29
2 years ago

Well, I still don’t think he’ll make the 2020 Olympics.

anonymous
2 years ago

I think his start has greatly improved. His reaction times are better than at World Championship and he looks like he has more momentum. He has worked hard on his starts and it has paid off. Great job

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  anonymous
2 years ago

It may just be that he was swimming with others who had in-season legs. His start looked good compared to Dressel’s in the 100 fly, but that’s because Dressel was event weary and in-season. Best to compare tapered/shaved starts. He was the only guy who did that.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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