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  1. Colonies Zone Meet

    2010 Colonies Zone Short Course Yards Championships:

    It was good to meet so many of my 1776 teammates this weekend; a very friendly and helpful group of people. Special thanks go to Wayne for counting for me in the 1000 at the last minute!

    We have a lot of fast people, spread over most of the age groups. Being able to team up with these guys for relays at the end of the year is great!

    Speaking of which, props to Tom for putting together our Delaware Valley LMSC record-breaking 25+ 800 free relay, which I was proud to anchor. That was definitely a good call! I pulled a 1:50. I'm pretty happy with that. [Addendum: this relay placed second in the nation in the recently-finalized SCY top ten. Thanks again to Tom P. for masterminding the whole thing].

    Personal highlights:

    1: Doing a 10:22 in the 1000 despite going only about 95%, and almost missing the race by running around trying to find a last-minute counter! I went 10 seconds faster than I did at Y Nats last week, and came within 4 seconds of the meet record for 35-39. I wish I had gone 100%, maybe I'd have gotten that record, but still a 10 sec. drop is nice either way.

    2: Trying a different overall strategy for the 400 IM, and a different technique for fly specifically, which seems to have worked. I'm happy with the time, considering I was experimenting with the fly, and the effort I put into it overall (I was trying to save strength for the 100 back immediately afterward). I tried a lot harder last week at Y Nationals, and only went 2 seconds faster. I've learned that even if I can't get the times I want, I can at least adapt and treat races as learning exeriences.

    The other races were OK, right about where I thought I'd be, maybe a little slower. I won races of 200 yards-and-longer, and placed 2nd in anything shorter than that. Pretty much what I would expect! But hey, it was a long weekend, lots of swims. Most of my races were best times (as a Masters swimmer); can't argue with that!

    I'm now enjoying some time off (from swimming AND work!). Man, did I need it. I've been running on fumes the last few weeks, and not just b/c of all this swimming and travelling! But I look forward to seeing these guys again this summer.

    2010 Colonies Zone Long Course Meters Championships:

    After 3 weeks of minimal training, I managed to make the National LCM Top Ten in one of my off-events, coming in 6th in the 200 Br. Just goes to show that you never know what will happen...but you can always at least try!

    Congratulations to my team, 1776 Colonials; we won the Medium Team Division at LCM Zone Championships, without doing any relays! Most of the thanks go to Tom P. and Laurie Hug, who seemed to do about 50 races per day with machine-like precision. For my own part, I managed to win the 1500 and the 400, despite minimal training, so I'm pretty happy with that. The 1500 had never been offered at LCM zones before, so I ended up setting the meet record in that race; next year I'll try to re-set the record with a more deserving time!

    I seeded myself way too fast for this meet. At one point I spoke to the meet officials and offered to switch to one of the gutter lanes so that more deserving swimmers could get the better lanes, but they thought that would be too complicated, so I stayed where I was.

    The overall time in the 1500 is not good, but I’m actually pretty pleased with my splits; they were fairly consistent. That’s all I can ask for at this point; if nothing else, you can always control the mental part of it.

    I went after the 400 free more aggressively. I’d rather get in and race a shorter event like this and let the chips fall where they may. No sense in getting intimidated by 400 meters.

    When I decided to go to Zone Championships, they were only 3 weeks away. But I realized that there's never a good reason to quit, so I decided to go to the meet anyway. A short training period just means you have to modify your expectations, rather than quit altogether!

    Finally posted an avatar...

    More photos to come later. Some, like the shots from the plane to Florida, were taken with my little point-and-shoot (didn't feel like lugging my real camera to Nationals). Others were actually taken at Zones in 2008, before I started swimming again. At that time, I was building my portfolio (still am!), and went to Long Course Zones meet down in Maryland. They're lumped in with shots from 2010 Short Course Zones. Enjoy!

    The avatar is actually one of my own photographs, shot on film back a few years ago. I left the shutter open for a long time while driving down the Trenton tunnel, then flipped it back into a negative when I digitized it (which explains the weird colors, and why the lights along the top of the tunnel are dark, while the rest of the tunnel is bright). I realized a few days ago that this image kinda looks like being under water in a pool, the black lights looking somewhat like lane-lines. I thought, "well, i guess I finally found my avatar!'

    Aug. 4, 2012: Keystone State Games.

    Went to the 2012 Keystone State Games yesterday with only about 4 weeks of consistent training. Trouble is, last week I had an emergency dental issue that kept me out of the water & gym for 7 days. Worst possible timing. I literally didn’t touch a pool till the day of the meet. And even then I had very minimal training before that. But I decided to go anyway, and make it a moral victory, rather than sitting home feeling sorry for myself. I was entered in 5 races (the maximum), and planned to drop 1 or 2 of them anyway, but with the missed week of training, I decided to drop down to 2 races, the 200 Br and 200 Bk. There were no other swimmers in my age group in those races, so there was no pressure to go fast. And I’ve been playing around with my back and breast technique in practice anyway, so I decided to make these 2 races into ‘practice runs’ to see if my technique changes were working. The good news is, I believe they are. The bad news is, my times were abysmal! Oh well, I consciously decided not to go fast anyway, and with only recently getting back into the pool and the lost week of training, it’s not like I was going to go fast even if I tried. And I came home with two golds and even set meet records, believe it or not (the 200 Bk had never been attempted in the M35-39 AG, and the 200 Br record was 3:24 !!!!). So it was a good day…a moral victory for showing up, and got to test my technique changes under quasi-race conditions. I even think my back start was better than usual.

    Aug. 2013:

    Decided to go to the State Games of America, even though I only trained a week and was in no condition to compete. I won the 200 fly because no one else was entered in my age group, LOL. Since I had only trained for a week and no one else was entered in it, I loafed it to try to save strength for the 200 Br. Going into the 200 Br, I noticed the one other guy in my AG had won the 100 Br in about the same time I would’ve done if I were entered in it. So I began to realize that the 200 Br would be competitive, and started getting unusually nervous, but determined to make a go of it anyway. We ended up right next to each other, with me in the end lane. The guy was in really good shape, no body fat, etc. The race started, and he would get ahead in between the walls, but I was destroying him at the turns. I snuck a look at one point to figure out why, and saw that this guy clearly had no real swimming experience…he would grab the gutter, pull himself up WAY high, drop back down into the water and then push off. He stayed with me for about 125 yards, but then he just disappeared. I don’t know if he got tired, or if he just wasn’t used to being challenged and gave up. I’m not even sure if he finished the race, that’s how much he disappeared! So I won with a very slow time, but at least I was able to go home with a funny story: the really fit guy who can’t swim v. the totally UN-fit guy who can! Not that I’m any kind of breaststroker, mind you.

    I had actually started trying to get back into shape in May, but I went back to school instead. Swimming got pushed to the back burner. Besides, the results I saw at the one meet I attended in June were shockingly poor! Much slower than I thought they would be, and I had that “deer-in-the-headlights” feeling. Something seems to have slipped…I wondered if my competitive drive was starting to disappear.

    Updated October 15th, 2014 at 03:49 PM by Undeniable

  2. YMCA Nationals

    Just got back from YMCA Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale. I went way faster then I thought I would. I'm very happy with 4 out of 5 of my swims!

    I did 17:44 in the 1650, 10:32 in the 1000, and 5:01 in the 500. All 3 were good enough for first place finishes in my age group. The 1650 and the 1000 were only a few hours apart, and the 500 was on the last day of the meet (I was very tired at that point), so I'm especially happy with these times.

    I also did a 2:05 in the 200 back, a 5 second drop from Boston 3 or 4 weeks ago. It didn't feel very good, and I even messed up a turn, and still dropped 5 seconds somehow. Seems like I'm swimming very fast right now (for me). Good timing, Colonies are this weekend. I'm definitely doing the 200 back at Colonies. I don't think a 2:04 or 2:03 is out of the question.

    I'm not real happy with my 400 IM, but this was the day after doing both the 1650 and the 1000 (I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck after those two monstrous races). And I did drop 10 seconds from my Boston 400 IM; I try to take something positive from every swim, no matter how bad it feels! At least I know my 400 IM still has a lot of room for improvement.

    Rowdy Gaines didn't make an appearance, but it was still nice to be at the Hall of Fame Pool again. I took a lot of pictures of the pool and the Hall of Fame Museum. Plus it was just nice to be in a tropical paradise for a few days, even if it was a working vacation. I tried to find an underwater disposable camera to take some cool pics in the pool itself, but nobody was selling them. I stopped at like 5 stores, and nobody had an underwater disposable. I'm such a tourist.

    Special thanks go to Chris Dana for counting for me in the 1650, the 1000 and the 500. That's a LOT of counting! Thanks Chris! And thanks also for the UMLY cap. He also helped coordinate our Y Nationals entries with Glen Neufeld, UMLY National coach. Apparently everyone from the same YMCA has to enter Nationals as a group, rather than individually. This process can be like herding cats, but Chris was able to guide me through it and stay in contact with Glenn till the job was done. Cheers Chris! (Addendum: Glen Neufeld was later named YMCA National Coach of the Year for his efforts at the Age-Group level. Congrats Glen!)

    I pulled out of the 200 breast, 200 IM and 50 back. I wasn't as well seeded in those races, and I wanted to save some strength for the 500.

    In all, this was a great meet for me. I promised myself that I would justify all the time spent swimming as an adult by winning at least one race at Nationals; I won three. I'm also patting myself on the back for gutting out the 1000 after doing the 1650. Originally, I was only going to do one of them, and pull out of the other, but when I went more than a minute faster than my seed time in the 1650, I decided to go after the 1000 also. And it worked. As an adult swimmer, one of the things I wanted to improve was my courage, and keeping a positive outlook, so I'm happy that I can go after both the 1650 and the 1000 on the same day, and put a bad 400 IM behind me so I could focus on my remaining races. That's all I can ask for!

    Updated October 29th, 2014 at 12:20 PM by Undeniable

  3. Re-cap of 2010 SCY in-season meets:

    Meets, Reverse Chronological, Leading up to Nationals

    New England Championships, Boston, Mar. 2010:

    This was a great experience, as it was the first big meet I'd been to as a Masters swimmer. Didn't realize it at the time, but I was swimming very tired at this point. Immediately felt drained and out of breath in each race over this 2-day meet. But, made a moral victory out of it by continuing to race hard and not let frustration sink in. And this meet was perfect as a final lead-in to Nationals, as I (in retrospect) needed some stiff competition from swimmers who were rested, or just plain fast. Served as a wake-up call going into the end of the season. I couldn't have scripted it any better than that!

    Burlington CC Meet, NJ, March 2010:

    The increased yardage paid off, as I took about 24 seconds off my first 500 back in Oct 2009. Did poorly in the 50 back, but mainly due to an unusually bad start. Teamed up with some 1776 people for a 200 Fr relay. Lead off with what one of my relay-mates called a '23-something' (the timing system wasn't working right). That's pretty good for me, as 50s are not really my thing.

    UMBC, MD Meet, March 2010:

    Went slower in the 200 Free than I expected, and was still tired when the 200 Back came along. Came away from this meet deciding that I needed to shift training away from weights, cardio & dryland, and become an actual swimmer again by ramping up yardage.

    Severna Park, MD Meet, Feb 2010:

    Two meets before this were cancelled due to snow, so I came to this meet determined to swim really fast for in-season. Did a 58.7 in the 100 back, the first time I did as a Masters swimmer that I considered to be 'good', from an age-group perspective. Also did the 50 Fly and 50 Breast, with decent times.

    USMS National One Hour postal swim, Jan 2010:

    Was still trying to shake the lost week of training due to a cold, but again decided to show up for the hour postal. It felt pretty good, considering I was really in no shape to attempt swimming for an hour straight! Who was it who said 99% of life is showing up?

    Boyertown Y Meet, Jan 2010:

    Had just gotten over a cold, which wiped out an entire week of training (and only had 2 weeks of training before that!). Swam terribly, but decided to make it a moral victory by showing up at least.

    Pottstown Y Meet, Jan 2010:

    Took a long hiatus due to the Holidays, but decided to attend this meet anyway with only 5 days of training. Did well in the 200 Breast, but was still tired due to lack of training when the 200 Free came around. Gutted it out and won both races.

    Sussex Y, NJ Fall Meet, Oct 2009:

    My very first meet as a Masters swimmer. Did the 200 and 500 faster than I expected (I guess I didn't really know what to expect!), winning both. Everyone was very friendly and helpful; as I found out, Masters swimmers are always friendly and helpful!

    Season Overview:

    I'm coming to the end of my first season as a Masters swimmer. It was Phelps in Bejing that gave me the itch to compete again, mainly b/c he's an IMing, FLYing, middle distance generalist like I was. Obviously Phelps is on a way higher level, but the similarities astounded me. And I hadn't paid any attention to swimming on any level for several years. Suddenly I began thinking 'hmmm, what if I were to swim again in Masters?'. I kicked around the idea for more than a year before committing to it. I even bought one of those crazy tech suits! We didn't have those back in the day. My tech suit makes me feel like Batman or something.

    I'm headed to YMCA Masters Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale in a few weeks. Rowdy Gaines is entered in it! I wonder if he'll actually show up. I'll try to get a picture with him. Hopefully he's not too much of a 'celebrity' to spare a few moments for his peeps.

    Colonies Zones is the week after that. Looking forward to seeing many of my 1776 teammates. We're a far-flung team with many workout groups; I haven't met too many people so far, with the notable exceptions of Laurie Hug, Chris McGinley, Rich Reshetar, Chirs Dana, Janet Moeller, Russ Deherder, and Tom Patterson, who has been my Masters 'answer-guy'. Thanks Tom! Looking forward to putting together some fast relays with some of these guys...break some records, win some gold, get some top 10 times.

    A funny thing happened one day at practice at UMLY while tapering for Y Nationals. The guy in the lane next to me struck up a conversation (I guess he saw my USMS cap). He guessed (correctly) that I was going to Nationals, asked what events I was entered in, and so on. At one point I asked him his name, and he says “I’m Bill Specht”. I blurt out “YOU’RE BILL SPECHT?!?” I had recently come to know him as a long-established Masters Swimmer who owns some very fast USMS and YMCA national records by pouring over lots of Masters Swimming results (he‘s usually listed as ‘William Specht’). But beyond that, he’s also from New Jersey originally, just as I am. So even before I came to know him as a Masters Swimmer, I vaguely knew who he was as a kind of foggy legend from my early childhood, out of our shared ‘mythic past’ of New Jersey swimming (he‘s about 15 years older than me, I think). For some reason I want to say he swam for Peddie, but I can't really be sure. Anyway, I later told my older brother, who is aged roughly halfway between myself and Mr. Specht, about this encounter, he his reaction was ‘Yeah, I remember Bill Specht, and he was awesome.’ So Bill and I spoke a little more, and eventually I said goodbye and hopped out. Bill wished me luck at Nationals and went back to doing fly kick with a board. He was very polite and unassuming. So how funny is that? In retrospect, meeting him right before Y Nationals was an uncannily good omen, as he used to go to Y Nationals almost every year, I think. Some of his records still stand. I didn’t set any records, but I do think some of his magic rubbed off!

    So my first season in Masters has been a funny experience. Coming back to swimming is strange; it's very familiar, yet it's also like doing it for the first time. Almost like my earlier swimming career was a dream, or a past-life or something. I was away from the sport for 15 years, I guess that's why. It's been a funny trip down memory lane.

    Updated October 29th, 2014 at 12:17 PM by Undeniable