I could simply tell you the appropriate and true items about muscles and lactic acid, I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to tell you a story:
My dad, a swimmer from the pre-World War II era, competed in the first Master Nationals back when I was a kid. He swam against swimmers like Johnny Weissmuller, a swimmer who set over 50 world records and won 5 Olympic swimming golds (and a bronze in water polo), who may have been best known for playing Tarzan.
My dad’s workout routine rarely varied. His habit went like this, drive to the pool in his shorts (he lived in Phoenix), warm up, and then dig-in for a descending mile. Then, like many adults pressed for time he hopped out grabbed his towel and headed towards his car.
Less than half-way to his car my dad collapsed. A massive heart attack struck him only minutes after climbing out from his heart pounding swim. Thanks to the less than one-minute response time of the EMTs (the pool, and it’s parking lot were in direct view of the firehouse) my father survived the heart attack. Unfortunately, the damage to his heart was so severe the doctor informed us it was not a matter of if he would have another, but when he had another heart attack, it would kill him.
Now don’t get me wrong, swimming was part of what kept him healthy, but I will always believe that if he had warmed down, the body would have been under less stress and the heart attack may have been less devastating to his heart.
You all know what to do…warm down before you climb out. Next time, I will discuss the more technical side of warm down at meets and help you understand the role of lactic acid and how it will affect your performance at multi-event and multi-day meets.
Up Next: Lactic Acid and the Multi-event/Multi-day meet