Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stand Up and Fight

Date: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Location: Orlando, FL
Short Course Meters
254 days to Olympic Trials

Today I in Orlando covering the Rowdy Gaines Classic for Swimming World. My main function here is to get race footage and interviews with people in the meet. I have a rule that I do not compete in a meet in which I am working as a journalist. It is too difficult to set equal priorities for both duties. I found that out in 2008, when I tapered for a meet that were covering in Phoenix. The work required to get the equipment set up for a live stream, as well as the mental work that went into it, took a lot of energy away from my swimming, and I did poorly in the pool. I agreed to swim a few events at the meet here because, well, Rowdy asked. And I can't say no to Rowdy.

I planned to do 2,000 meters of warmup this morning, but only managed about 1,600. That was not enough to get ready for racing, especially since my body was tired from walking two miles to the pool yesterday (long story) and tired from getting about six hours of sleep. To add to it, I was so busy being a journalist that I didn't make the time to jump into the water for another brief warmup before the 100 breast. I won't string this out any longer: I went 1:05.5 in the 100 breast. Not a very good time. But, on the bright side, I was technically good during the race, and specifically worked on getting more out of my kick. That wasn't easy to do, since my hip flexors and quadriceps were exhausted from yesterday's walk. I wasn't disappointed with the swim. If I were here to specifically race, I know I would have gone 1:02. Thanks to my good friend Laura Winslow, I have video of the race, and I'll include it in either tomorrow's blog entry or Tuesday's blog entry.

About two hours later, I stepped up for the 100 free. I was more prepared. I did about 400 yards in the warmup pool to get my body ready. I didn't want to fake through this swim. I was anxious to race Rowdy, who would be in the heat, as well as the other people swimming, many of whom had swum a lot of events earlier in the day. I went 54.73 and got second in the heat! Rowdy did not swim. I got second to Ben Christoffel, who's in my age group in Masters and probably can't wait until I move into the 40-44 age group so he can win some breaststroke events. Ben was on the other side of the pool, but I could see him on the even-numbered lengths. My concentration on this swim was the new armstroke I learned from Tennessee coach Matt Kredich, which was to get the forearms involved in the pull. It felt strong the entire way, and was only three  tenths slower than my fastest 100 SCM freestyle in Masters! Most of all, it was fun to race those guys in that heat. Pushing off the walls and kicking hurt so bad, but I dug in and was happy that I fought to the very end. Maybe I should swim this event more often, since I seem to be showing a lot of improvement in it this year.

As I mentioned before, I didn't come to the meet for racing. Plus, this was my first competition since I made my Olympic Trials cut in July. The bad part about Masters sometimes is there aren't a lot of meets. Or, in may case, I seem to be busy during the times those meets are scheduled.

Aside from the great swim in the 100 free, I got to meet some Olympians! I did an interview with Martin Zubero, who won the 200 back for Spain at the 1992 Olympics. I had a lengthy talk with Tracey McFarlane, who swam at Texas a few years before me and won a silver in the medley relay in the 1988 Games. And of course, there's Rowdy, who gave me some very kind words about my book. I gave it to him last year to read, thinking he might get around to it eventually. But he said it inspired him, and to hear one of my swimming heroes say my story inspires him meant a lot.

The meet continues tomorrow! I'm swimming the 50 breast and 100 back. I signed up for the 100 back specifically for the chance to race Martin Zubero, but he won't be swimming tomorrow. He did say in his interview (which will be on in the coming days) that he's looking forward to getting back into competitive swimming, so we'll see each other on deck in the future!

I'm writing this about five hours after my 100 free, and my quads are still on fire. My hip flexors feel better. This is a sign that I either need to strengthen my legs, or rent a car! I'm glad Laura did rent a car and is letting me ride with her to the pool and back. Ready for one more day in Orlando!

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