I love swim meets--especially big swim meets. There were 800 competitors this weekend in total. Jarrod Shoemaker, Alicia Kaye, Jacob Shoemaker and Ethan Brown came to swim--and it was cool to watch them tear up the pool. What's even more cool, though, is that they weren't the fastest swimmers this weekend. Not even close. Karlyn Pipes-Neilson was there too, and she broke several world records in the 45-49 age group. My friend Alina came down from Maine with her team (and mine, actually, since I swim for Maine Masters!) to compete. She broke New England records in the 35-39 AG in three events (50 M fly 29.85), 200 Medley relay, and the 100 M free 1:02.49) and was only .3 of Neilson in the 50 free. That's pretty damn impressive if you ask me.
The weekend began when I met Alina and another good Maine friend Katie out to dinner on Friday night. Katie swam the 800 late Friday afternoon and did awesome (11:42 with perfectly even splits) and so we had a beer and some victuals to celebrate. (Beer is definitely good pre-race food, I've decided.) Alina and Katie slept at my house, and the next morning we headed to BU to compete in some sprints! And when I say sprints, I mean SPRINTS. My longest event took me just under 6 minutes and my shortest only took me 33 seconds. Wahoo! When do we endurance folk get to that?????
Masters meets are interesting because the range of ability and experience is so far-reaching. You have beginners (and I mean total beginners) on the one end and then former high school, college, and former pros on the other. The heats were seeded from slowest to fastest seed times. By the time you got to the final heats the competition was sick. Every competitor was tall, ripped and just looked ready to kill it. A ton of meet, New England, and WORLD records were broken at this meet.
In the swimming world I am truly in the middle in terms of my times. I'm not a beginner, but compared to real swimmers I am very average. After placing in the top of my AG for the last few years in tri and running, it's a tough pill to swallow to suddenly be barely in the middle...especially since I really do consider myself a swimmer. The good part of being in the middle, though, is that the pressure is OFF and you can just have fun. No one expects you to win--and they are psyched for you no matter how you do.
On Saturday I was scheduled to swim the 50 back, the 100 IM and the 50 free. I also got suckered into doing a 400 free relay. The 100IM was my first event. My seed time was a 1:26 (translated about a 1:16 100 yard IM). This was ambitious. Of the eight events I swam, this is the one my kids and Andy came to see. I had a good start, and doing the fly I felt so strong. The back I could see I was falling behind a bit--and this surprised me b/c back is my strongest stroke and I usually make up time on it. By the breaststroke I was definitely behind (I so suck at breast), but I was still having fun. I brought it home and finished in 1:27.68--which in yards is about a 1:17. Not a PR, but not bad either. Unfortunately, I was DEAD last in my heat--which my kids saw. They were very sweet about that, though. To them it looked as if I had lost the whole race! A bunch of my friends also swam the IM. Alina, as per usual, killed it and went a 1:13, which in yards would be about a 1:03. (I don't swim a 100 free that fast, FYI.)
Next up was the 50 back. My biggest fear was the start. You are no longer allowed to curl your toes over the edge of the gutter, and so pushing off to do an arch is like--. Well, it's impossible for me, let's just say that. I managed a really sexy back flop. My kick underwater was great though, and I came up close to the center of the pool. When I got to the turn I flipped on my belly too early because I am used to swimming YARDS! and the flags were about a half a stroke further down than than my usual four count. Argh. But I just glided and flipped, and it was okay. I got a 40.2, which translated is about a 35, and was good enough for 5th AG. Not bad!
The 50 free is NOT my event at all, but it's fun so I wanted to try it. I seeded myself too fast, just like I had in the IM, and so I feared the girls in my heat would once again kick my ass, as they had in the IM. This time, though, I was pretty close to my seed time, coming in at 34.2 (about a 30.5 in yards.). And I wasn't dead last!! I think I may have been second to last, though...but I made sure not to notice. I was 8th in my AG.
Before leaving for the day I was convinced I should swim in a 400 freestyle relay. My teammates were so enthusiastic--I just couldn't say no. I anchored the relay and went 1:17 for a split--which is about a 1:08 in yards. We were second to last in our AG (they combine everyone's age and put you in a category according to that number), but we were still proud--and importantly, we still earned some points for Maine, which is what matters, right?
Alina and I were positively wiped out by the time we showered and were ready to leave. We debated going out to eat, but decided to just get burritos at Whole Foods because we were so spent. Meets are interesting in that you get unbelieveably tired--but not the same tired you get when doing an endurance event. Those tiny sprints take a ton out of you. The day goes somethign like this: sit and sit and sit and then SPRINTTTTTTT and then sit and sit and sit and SPPPPPPRINT! all day. By day's end you feel like you could sleep for a month.
But we didn't sleep for a month. We got up the next morning and powered on for day 2 of the meet! On day 1 I had competed in a bathing suit, but on day two I was able to borrow a Blue Seventy suit from one of Alina's friends on Maine Masters. Thanks, Cheryl! I was psyched! My first event was the 400 and I felt I needed all the help I could get, so the speed suit was a welcome welcome welcome. Alina agreed to count for me, and I decided I would just go for it, even though I'm out of swim shape AND I was pooped from competing the day before. I took it out conservatively--or so I THOUGHT--but my first 50 was a 37. My second was a 42, and then I just kept hammering out 44 and 45s until the end. I finished in 5:53, which translated to a 500 yard free would be about a 6:40 -- or about 1:20 per hundred. I'll take it! I was 6th in my AG. Not too shabby!
The 50 fly came immediately after the 400 free. I LOVE the fly, so I didn't care that I was tired. I crushed it (as best as I was able to, anyway) and finished in 36.8 which is about a 33 in yards. Not a PR, but pretty good just the same. I was 4th in my AG. I should mention here that Alina won our AG and got a New England record in this event. She went 29.85 which translated is about a 26 in yards. Yep. That's fucking fast.
My last indiviudal event was the 100 back. I was psyched. This was my best event in high school, and I was eager to see what I could do, even out of shape and minus the ability to do a good start. Again, I oh so gracefully back-flopped on the start, but I was nevertheless able to make it to more than half way down the pool before I came up. My turns were pretty spot on this time (as opposed to the 50) and I was able to kick it up a notch on the second 50. I went a 1:22.48 which translates to a low 1:13 in yards. Again, not P.R, but actually, damn close! I'm going to get my high school self yet!! I snagged 3rd AG in the back--my best showing of the weekend.
Before I could leave I was convinced to do ANOTHER relay. (Really, it's very hard to say no those eager Maine folk.) I swam with three Mainers who were all between 61-74 years old, so I was the only young buck (well, sort of) and we were the 240-279 AG as a result. We killed it and won(our AG that is....) ! I anchored the relay and went 33.7, which is about a 30 flat for yards.
Alina and I on Sunday.
And here's another of Alina and me. (I still like the other one better, Bean.)
Alina, me and Maine Masters captain, Son!
AND BEST OF ALL, MAINE WON THE MEET OVERALL! ueueu!
(and I contributed 70 individual points to that win, too!)
Thanks for reading. I know it was a long one. (And yes, I still like you very much, even if you totally skimmed.)