STANDOUT Trinidad and Tobago swimmer Dylan Carter will hope to put his three-week Tenerife camp lessons to good use when he suits up for the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, California, USA.
After returning from the largest of the Spanish Canary Islands last Wednesday, the 25-year-old is re-acclimatising this week before that five-day meet splashes off tomorrow night,
Carter is attending this particular competition — his second of the year — specifically because the format replicates the one he will face at the July 23-August 8 Tokyo2020 Olympic Games where preliminaries will be conducted at night with semi-finals and finals staged in the morning.
Carter, recently named the First Citizens Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year 2020, actually performed a three-day simulation of the Tokyo schedule at the state of the art Tenerife camp attended by his Team Elite Aquatics and the Israeli Olympic Swim team.
“I thought the camp went very well and the major focus I would say for me was just a little bit more race-specific work. More specifically back-end speed. Did a lot of back-end speed, finishing work and a lot of race rehearsal actually,” Carter, also the 2020 TTOC Sportsman of the Year, recalled.
“One of the more interesting things we did was simulate the Games in Tokyo...the prelims are at night and the finals and semis are in the morning which is untraditional for swimming, so we did a three-day simulation of the prelims on a Thursday night, a semi-final on Friday morning which is a really tough turnaround, then you get a 24-hour rest and a final simulation on Saturday morning. So I thought that was really helpful to do those three races in training.”
The first Tenerife camp Carter attended back in January was more volume-oriented with more generalised aerobic base work and focused more on Carter getting re-acquainted with his feel for the water and his strokes after a month’s break at home in December. This second camp was designed by his former US Olympic coach Dave Marsh to be more race-specific and intense.
“I think that my strokes felt really good. At the moment I am really happy with where my execution with my mock races in the camp are. I was really happy with how my dives look, how my turns look and my skills and my strokes,” Carter detailed. “I think those are the most important things at this time rather than fixating on times because I have no doubt the (fast) times will come at the right time.”
Carter identified areas to work on as minimal including his stroke tempo and eking out “a bit” more speed. Asked how crucial the training camp was to his Olympic preparation, Carter said: “Important is an interesting word. I think that it was helpful and beneficial.” The 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist said throughout his career he had always found a way to get the necessary work done. “No matter where I am or what situation I am in. However, it was really helpful to be in an environment where it is so favourable to fast swimming and good training. To be around all of these top athletes and being somewhere where largely a lot of your secondary and tertiary thoughts are taken care of and you can focus on what is happening in the water.
“And a lot of the daily headaches: what am I going to cook for my next meal, how am I going to put gas in the car, where is my next practice going to be available (because of Covid restrictions)? Is it going to be a 5 a.m. (session) because that is when our pool time is available. A lot of those things which are challenges in my usual training scenario were non-existent in Tenerife so those things were really helpful to me,” he explained. As for his reaction to his Sportsman, Carter said: “First time is always special. It is definitely a milestone. I have been attending these awards and following these awards since I am a junior athlete and always looked up to the winners and it’s almost surreal to be one of those athletes that I looked up to as a kid.”
Carter added it was bitter-sweet not to be able to accept in person and celebrate with family and friends.
“But it means a lot to me. This year is a stepping stone as all of my years of ups and down have been. So I am hoping to build on these results last year and put them into a real good long course season this year and really just continue to enjoy it and learn and grow,” the 2019 Pan American Games bronze medallist concluded.