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Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine

My wife and kids motivated me to get my big belly back into the pool after buying a pair of SwiMP3's for Christmas in 2008. I focused on swimming the Peaks To Portland (Maine) 2.4 mile swim in July, 2010, and have added meets and consistent training since then. I mostly swim on my own because I am only able to get together with the local Master's workout group a couple of times a month. I love the backstroke and short free events, and I have a newly discovered fondness for Open Water, having completed my first 10K in Sept '11 and 10 mile in July '12.

My faith in Christ sees me through the exhausting practices and long hours driving to competitions (well, everything day by day, actually), and helps to keep me grounded in the knowledge that the events are only to give me feedback on how my training is progressing. If you're interested, just ask.

Check out my swimmer info page here.

  1. 10/05/15: evening

    by , October 5th, 2015 at 07:54 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Quick swim tonight.

    200/free200 back/200 im drill
    400 shark swim
    100 loosen
    (Solo/Rec/1100 yds/20 min)
    Swim Workouts
  2. Workout 09/26/15: morning

    by , September 26th, 2015 at 11:19 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Masters this morning - swam with Greg and Kevin, with Matt and Marie on their own.

    200 free/100 kick/200 pull
    4 x 25 burst and cruise on :35

    4 x 125 on :15sr (50 free, 25 stroke sprint, 50 free dps)
    1 x 300 pull
    1 x 100 kick
    10 x 50 on 1:05 (odds choice, evens FAST Free progression - hit 28 on the last one)
    200 loosen and chatter (I also added an addition 200 over the course of the swim)
    (Masters/Rec/2400 yds/60 min)

    Wow, it's been two weeks since my last swim. I made good on the threat to start painting the house, and that has consumed any extra time in my schedule. I am getting a good workout each day scraping, caulking, and prepping...not to mention the painting! Lena has helped out to make the process a bit more bearable. I have also replaced the motion light on the garage, installed a keyless deadbolt for the backdoor, replaced the external vents for the dryer and the bathroom fan, and some finish carpentry that needed to be completed on the addition we put on a few years ago. At this point, the only painting that needs to be finished is the trip on the back of the house, and in the spring I will likely do that (unless the weather warms up a tad) as well as the west side of the house. I'll have some landscaping to do as well heading into this fall as we had a family friend remove three trees and a few shrubs that got a little out of control.

    I posted about our last team OW swim here ( My class at the college this year is going well - I really enjoy the professor and the reading that we are completing. I also watched 'The War Room' with Preston and Lena on Monday - great movie about the power of prayer that our community was blessed to have play locally.

    Updated September 27th, 2015 at 07:53 PM by rxleakem

    Swim Workouts
  3. Workout 09/12/15: Morning

    by , September 12th, 2015 at 01:46 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I've been working at some house projects, namely scraping and prep work for some painting. My drylands.

    200 swim/200 kick/200 pull
    8 x 25 drills
    6 x 75 on :15sr (desc 1-3,4-6. Did second round back)
    200 pull
    4 x 150 on :15sr (best avg. Did first 50 IMO)
    14 x 25 on :40 (1-5 stroke/free, 6-10 fast/ez, 11-14 -1 stroke count)
    200 loosen (I also got in an extra 300)
    Good workout and now I'm looking forward to a visit with Emma this weekend

    Updated September 12th, 2015 at 10:01 PM by rxleakem

    Swim Workouts
  4. Workout 09/08/15: evening

    by , September 8th, 2015 at 09:47 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Had a nice swim tonight at Masters, with Greg, MG, and Meg (Matt did his own workout)

    200 swim, 100 kick, 200 pull
    8 x 50 on 1:05 even split
    4 x 125 on 2:20 (I did im)
    300 dps (did 350)
    4 x 75 on 1:40 descend
    200 as 50 kick, 50 pull
    200 loosen and out
    (Masters/Rec/2250 yds/60 min)

    I spent the morning resealing cthe driveway, so I'm beat!

    First day back in the pool since it closed two weeks ago
  5. Workout 09/06/15: OW

    by , September 6th, 2015 at 10:04 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Searsburg Reservoir:

    This was my first time swimming in here, and the last group swim of the summer. I drove over with Matt and met Greg at the parking area. This is a smaller body of water, the second reservoir of the Deerfield River that pools up for electricity generation. I have a track of the swim noted here:

    On the northeast side of the bowl we found the river spilling in, and to the southeast a white building, where water flows over a spillway and on to another reservoir. Water on the surface was great, around 74°f, but just two or three feet below our catch yielded cold water, about ten degrees cooler. Notice that one lonely tree has fallen victim to fall foliage, the only one thus far that I have seen.

    Here is a picture looking east from the parking area:
    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  6. Workout 09/02/15: OW

    by , September 2nd, 2015 at 09:32 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Summer doldrums, especially with the Rec closed. Last weekend Lena and I took a quick overnight to Connecticut for some beach therapy (I only did a ten minute swim) and then we stayed overnight with my Aunt and Uncle. Bonus...fresh CT peaches!

    Went for a dip at Paran tonight solo, 3/4 of a mile as the sun set.
    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  7. Workout 08/25/15: OW Raponda

    by , August 25th, 2015 at 09:47 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Today classes started at the college so I went to Chapel this morning, then worked on fixing a broken privacy blind on the side porch.

    The Rec is closed so I set up four OW swims over the next two weeks. Today was at Raponda, and Greg and Rachel came along with my wife! I have been helping her with becoming more comfortable breathing, and she swam about 800yds out to the raft and back while we went out on the lake. I really proud of her for rocking her first open water lake swim! We logged just over a mile on the east side of the lake, as a powerboat or two stayed on the western shore.

    Here's a picture from before the swim...

    Updated August 25th, 2015 at 09:53 PM by rxleakem

    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  8. Workout 08/22/15: OW Raponda

    by , August 22nd, 2015 at 09:40 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I woke up early today to help escort my friend Tim. He concocted a homegrown Iron Man triathlon, swimming 2.4 miles over at Raponda, then a 112 mile bike ride through three states, and finally a marathon 26.2 mile run. All on his own, which has to be the most difficult thing to do!

    I was able to stay for half of his swim before leaving for work. Tim was smooth in the water and had a lot of friends to help - Melissal, Rachel (fresh off their IM Mount Trebulant in Canada last week), and Rachel's husband were on SUPs, Tim's oldest son kayaked, and Carol swam the whole way.

    He finished in just over 14 hours (he had some issues during the run and ended up powerwalking for over half the distance) to a crowd of 50 or more cherring at the finish line at our local HS. A great feat!

    Some pics I took can be found here on fb.

    Updated August 25th, 2015 at 09:51 PM by rxleakem

    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  9. Workout 08/19/15: noon

    by , August 19th, 2015 at 04:33 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    It's tough getting back to work after vacation, especially entering my long week. I slept in today then hit the pool at lunch...

    200 free/200 back/200 im drill
    500 shark swim
    4 x (50 strong DPS on :50, 100 fast on 1:30) mixed in stroke/im
    200 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/1900 yds/40 min)

    Matt was finishing up a set (he's planning to hit up Nationals in the spring), and Kevin was also there. Not too much traffic in the pool.

    Hot and humid here in VT. Last week I preformed the marriage ceremony of my sister-in-law and her fiancé and dropped off the paperwork today. I also paid for the class that I will audit this fall at the Bible College, a Christian Counseling class called Spiritual Formation. The other classes held on Thursday nights do not really apply to me so I went with this one. Only two books, and I was able to get one as an ebook so I will be all set for the third year of the college!

    Updated August 19th, 2015 at 10:51 PM by rxleakem

    Swim Workouts
  10. Workout 08/15/16: morning

    by , August 15th, 2015 at 07:08 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Vacation is slowing coming to an end much too quickly. Yesterday I officiated the marriage of my sister-in-law to her fiance in a beautifully small ceremony at a friend's church. A great day that was made a bit longer due to clean up afterwards.

    200 swim/100 kick/100 pull
    4 x 25 Burst and Cruise
    8 x 50 pull on :10sr (breathe 3/5 by 25)
    8 x 50 kick on :10sr (25 fast, 25 easy)
    200 on 3:30 neg split (did 250)
    100 on 2:00 (drill/swim by 25)
    400 (breathe 3/5/3/5 by 25)
    100 as 50 easy, 50 timed (went :28)
    100 easy and out
    (Masters/Rec/2200 yds/70 min)
    Masters practice this morning, with Greg swimming with me and Matt on his own. My last practice with the team before the Rec shuts down for a two week cleaning. I will be preparing an open water list to offer folks which the pool is dry. Two of our swimmers are competing in the IM Mont-Tremblant tomorrow so we'll be cheering on Melissa and Rachel!
    Swim Workouts
  11. Workout 08/12/15: evening

    by , August 12th, 2015 at 08:52 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    On vacation this week, working on some projects around the house. This afternoon I went for a short motorcycle ride this afternoon with Lena and ended up riding in the rain. Fun time!

    Quick swim this evening...
    200 free/200 back/200 im drill
    300 Shark Swim
    4 x 50 with 25 easy into 25 FAST IMO
    100 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/1200 yds/30 min)

    Tomorrow I have some tiling lined up at the College's new dorm area during the morning
    Swim Workouts
  12. Workout 08/09/15: morning

    by , August 9th, 2015 at 12:20 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Still here in Cleveland with Preston. After watching the Indians play Friday night there was an awesome fireworks display that melded Rock and Roll with lights, flames, and fireworks and lasted at least twenty minutes. Saturday we hit the Rock and Roll HOF, wandered over to take a peak at the closed Browns Stadium, then drove over to the Great Lakes Brewery for lunch - great food and atmosphere. While waiting for our table we wandered across the street to the Westside Market, where one section contained fruits and veggies, and inside had meat and bakery goodies. Reminded me a lot of the markets in Spain ...

    We then relaxed at the apartment we are renting through Air BnB (the pool here is closed so I used the treadmill), then we walked down and watched the final game of the arena league Cleveland Gladiators at the Q (where the Cavs plays). On the way back we stopped at the Chocolate Bar just off East 4th Street - a nice sweet treat.

    This morning I wandered over to Cleveland State University (where Preston's visit is tomorrow) to join the Masters team there. Unfortunately the main Nat's 50m pool was dry (some sort of accident occured since I emailed staff here last week), but I was able to hop into their instructional 25y pool by myself. I followed part of the workout on the board ...
    1000 warmup (did 200 free/200 back/200 im drill/ 400 Shark Swim)
    16 x 25 (4 @ 20sec free, 4 @30sec back, no breaks)
    4 x 25 on :40 - build
    200 loosen and out
    (Solo/CSU/1700 yds/35 min)

    Off to do some shopping in Aurora (no sales tax on clothing this weekend in Ohio), then we plan to head back and watch "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3-D at the Imax, capping off the night with a stop at the Hard Rock Cafe. Visit tomorrow then we make the drive home...Emma turns 21 tomorrow and is home through Tuesday to get a new license and finish up some errands. I hope to take the family out to brunch on Tuesday before she heads back to Philly. It'll be great to see her.
    Swim Workouts
  13. Meet 08/07/15: USMS Nationals day 2b

    by , August 7th, 2015 at 08:25 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    My first Nats in the book. Fun and fast swimming, great to meet many from these forums. Full recap to come...for now, I am rocking my Red Sox hat here with my son whilst pounding $1 hotdogs

    Updated August 8th, 2015 at 08:10 AM by rxleakem

    Tags: nationals
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  14. Meet 08/07/15: USMS Nationals day 2

    by , August 7th, 2015 at 06:54 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Today I decided to sleep in a bit so we checked out of the hotel after I hit the continental breakfast bar up. Lots more cars on this first full day of swimming but I was able to get in and do 800 meters in the big pool. I kept on my square-legged NEM endurance suit for the 400 IM, as all along I have planned to use this event as a continuation of warmups.

    400m IM: 6:00.95
    Said hi to Chad and also met mmlr38 before the swim. I started outside in lane 9 easy and employed DPS fly , then used the back leg to catch my breath a bit. Breaststroke is my least favorite event (because I struggle with it) so everyone passed me by. At the free turn I peaked over and saw someone on the other side of the pool had already pushed off so I put my head down and charged, ending up with 9th place! A little more racing than I planned on doing (and three seconds slower than last yeas), but I was happy to score and extra point for the team.
    37.83 1:21.08 (43.25)
    2:05.49 (44.41) 2:50.08 (44.59)
    3:49.17 (59.09) 4:47.91 (58.74)
    5:25.22 (37.31) 6:00.95 (35.73)

    Afterwards I did an easy 300yds in the totally packed short pool. Since the women still had to swim and then there was a 30min open warmup in the big pool I met up with my son and we checked out Spire Fuel, the cafe on campus. The prices were quite reasonable with most things made to order. I had a half a piece of pizza before we went to check out the vendor area - great prices and deals to be found. I also took advantage of a physical trainer in that area, Andrew, who was there to check out complaints and had foam rollers and other things to try out. My right knee has been clicking more and he took a look, offering some suggestions to help me out. A great service - thanks USMS!

    After watching Sickfish rock the 100 fly (great job, dude), I got in another easy 200yds and then put on my Yingfa for the 50 free. Originally I planned to just swim it, but decided to go after it.

    50 FREE: 27.45
    I was in first of two heats for my age group and the temp started to rise on the deck as the everyone filtered to the shallow end of the pool for the start. Instead of just going all out from the dive I decided to take 5 strong SDK's and then 5 controlled strokes to start off the swim. I was surprised to be in the lead at this point, so then I dropped the hammer. I was able to win my heat with a time that was 0.86 seconds faster than last year! By this point of the meet my aunt from Boston was tuning in online and was tickled pink because I won the heat. I ended up with 8th place as well, so I felt like this was my swim of the meet.

    An wasy 300yds to loosen up, then as the first heats of the men's 2back went off I got in another easy 100yds. I watched Stewart and Kurt battle out a great race, then swam my own...

    200m BACK: 2:35.43
    I was seeded third and entered a time was was roughly two times my 100back from last year plus 10 seconds. I still believe that this is the most difficult event to swim due to the constant demand on the legs to keep the body in position. I planned to take 4 skds off this start then 5 the rest of the way. That sounded fine until I made the last turn, as after two I surfaced to get oxygen! I felt smooth during the entire race and came in third. My legs were trashed as I struggled to get out of the water! To the warmdown pool for an easy 300yds.
    36.49 1:16.68 (40.19)
    1:57.16 (40.48) 2:35.43 (38.27)

    Last up for the day was the men's 4x50 Free Relay, and I did another easy 100yds.. Our time seeded us 6th, and despite being tired from a full day of racing I was ready to toss whatever was left for our team. I went 2nd and popped off a relay-assisted start time of 26.87, half a second faster than my individual event this afternoon Everyone on team New England dropped time and it was a great way to end the meet for me (after 300yds warmdown). The team is taking a picture on Saturday so I'll miss that, but I had a great time at my first Nationals. I will blog tomorrow about some of the peeps I was able to meet for the first time while here. Off to Cleveland with my son!

    Updated August 10th, 2015 at 06:31 AM by rxleakem

    Tags: lcm, nationals
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  15. Meet 08/06/15: USMS Nationals day 1

    by , August 6th, 2015 at 07:29 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Had a good night sleep and woke up before my alarm, mostly because the other swimmers in the hotel lent a hand! haha Grabbed some oatmeal and a coffee from before we hit the road to the pool, getting there a little after 7am. Once on deck, I met fellow New England swimmer Dick and his wife. We had made arrangements last night to count each other's 800, so it was nice to have that taken care of.

    I jumped in for warmups and swam 1000 metter, including one burst and cruise from the blocks while trying out the wedge blocks. After counting for Dick, who had a great swim, I went to the warmup pool (which seemed to have cooled down nicely) for a quick 200yds.

    My goal for the 800 was to take it out easy and controlled then build each 100. This was my first time swimming this event and felt good through the 350 mark before tightening up a bit. I focused on lengthening my stroke out and felt better at the 550 mark and pushed it to the finish. Felt my stomach do some flips for the last 150, so I feel like I left it all out there. Finished with a 10:56.62. I'll be interested to see the splits to see how well I stuck to my plan en route to a personal best

    Updated Splits:
    800m FREE: 10:56.62
    34.83 1:13.41 (38.58)
    1:52.70 (39.29) 2:33.54 (40.84)
    3:15.14 (41.60) 3:57.42 (42.28)
    4:40.43 (43.01) 5:22.64 (42.21)
    6:05.02 (42.38) 6:48.90 (43.88)
    7:31.55 (42.65) 8:14.51 (42.96)
    8:56.93 (42.42) 9:37.63 (40.70)
    10:18.59 (40.96) 10:56.62 (38.03)

    My plan to descend 100's didn't hold up very well, and the middle of my race was a bit slow due to my tightening up, but I am still happy with the swim. Chad from Cali came in first and had an excellent swim, his first Nationals win.

    Afterwards I met some other NEMer's before a 400yd warmdown. Preston and I spent the rest of the day exploring the area - the shortest covered bridge in America is right here in town, took a short walk at Geneva State Park, drove along the lake to Ashtabulah for lunch at Briquettes, then found the longest covered bridge in America (4th in the world), which is pictured below,as we made our way back to the hotel. After a quick pit stop, we drove around a bit, getting a pop at Ree's Soda Fountain in Gevena. I think they say pop up this way. Now I am ready for a busy day tomorrow.

    Updated August 9th, 2015 at 09:19 PM by rxleakem

    Tags: lcm, nationals
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  16. Workout 08/05/15: afternoon

    by , August 5th, 2015 at 08:07 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Left Vermont this morning and made it to Geneva around 4pm with my son. Traffic was smooth and I took a break every 100 miles or so to stretch out. The facility is pretty awesome, with a deep and cool 10 lane LCM main pool and a 25 yard pool available for warmups. All checked in for my races over the next two days.

    200 free/200 back/200 im drill
    3 x 100 [as 50 kick, 50 drill]
    2 x 50 b/c [first one off the blocks - thanks team Costa Rica for the whistle!)
    200 loosen and out
    (Solo/Spire/1200m/35 min)

    I made it to the pre-event meeting and now back at the hotel after eating dinner. Time to shave - haven't done this since high school! haha

    Updated August 5th, 2015 at 09:18 PM by rxleakem

    Tags: nationals
    Swim Workouts , Masters Swim Meets / Events
  17. Workout 08/03/15: morning

    by , August 3rd, 2015 at 09:14 AM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Final swim at home this morning after a busy work weekend...

    200 free/200 back/200 im drill
    400 kick/drill by 50
    4 x 50 ~ 2min (25 AFAP, 25 easy)
    200 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/1400 yds/30 min)

    The water was feeling good today. Just two more long days at work then I head to Ohio on Wednesday morning, with plans to hit the Spire in the evening for a quick float and perhaps the meeting at 5pm. Saying a prayer for all those traveling to Nationals, and looking forward to the start of the road trip with my son.
    Swim Workouts
  18. Workout 07/31/15: morning

    by , July 31st, 2015 at 09:57 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    200 free/200 back/100 kick/100 drill
    3 x
    50 DPS, 10sr
    25*AFAP into 25 EZ
    100 kick
    100 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/1300 yds/25 min)
    Another quick swim this morning before work. I called today to confirm that I still have a room for Nationals, which I do. I also received word that I will be swimming on a 200 free relay Friday night - besides the fun ones I have done with my*sibilings at our mini-meet, I haven't been on a relay since Zones in 1996!
    Swim Workouts
  19. Workout 07/29/15: morning

    by , July 29th, 2015 at 08:38 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Quick swim this morning before work.
    200 free/200 back/200*im drill/200 kick
    2 x
    75*DPS into 25 AFAP
    100 kick
    25*AFAP into 25*Ez into 50 DPS
    100 kick
    100 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/1600 yds/30 min)
    Trying to work in some speed in preparation*for my first Nationals (and second ever lcm meet). I am not following my usual two-week taper plan, but I do feel like I am a bit peppier in the water as compared to the lcm meet I did last year. At least I have a more robust base laid down at this point. In order to swim the trip, I swapped weekends so will be pulling a James Adams and 73 hours from now through Tuesday, then hopping in the car Wednesday morning for the 8 hour drive to Ohio. I plan to make it for a quick swim on Wed night and perhaps the pre-meet meeting, then will swim the 800 on Thursday*followed by the 400im, 50 free, and 200 back on Friday (plus maybe a relay). Then my son and I will be heading into Cleveland to catch some ball games and a visit to the*R&R HOF,*but most importantly for a college visit. I might try to drop in on a Masters workout while in town.
    Swim Workouts , Planning
  20. Workout 07/27/15: Evening

    by , July 27th, 2015 at 09:45 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Busy weekend at work so I was looking forward to getting out early today. Spent some with the family before hitting the pool tonight...

    200 free/200 back /200 im drill

    5 x 50 free on :50 strong 3/4
    50 easy
    5 x 50 free on :55 easy down, b/c back
    50 easy
    4 x 50 easy down. Fast imo back
    200 dps
    200 with 3 drag races from mid pool
    100 loosen and outside
    (Solo/Rec/1900 yds/50 min)
    Swim Workouts
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