View RSS Feed

Masters Swim Meets / Events

Meet / OW event plans and results from U.S. Masters Swmming events in this category.

  1. 07/19/14: Baystate Games Day 1

    by , July 19th, 2014 at 11:13 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Just back from Springfield College in Massachusetts for the first day of the 2014 Baystate Games , my first LCM meet! I swam lcm once or twice last year with Brent and then the year before that with Tom in the Philly area; otherwise, I have never been in lcm. The meet is set up with the kids swimming the in the morning to make finals, but the masters (19-34, 35-49, 50+) swam timed finals of mixed events after the kids heats. 6 lanes with no separate warmup lanes. GregJS decided (after some arm turning by his coach) to give the meet a try, so I met up at his place and we carpooled down.

    Noon warmups and a 12:30 start for the 400 Free; I got in 1000m. Greg did not want to do this, but since there was a flat registration fee entitling one to swim up to 4 events on the weekend, he did it and held a comfortable pace throughout. I was in the final heat and missed the opportunity to warmup, feeling stiff through the first 200. I was pleased with a 5:15 final time.

    Then there was a brake in the action and we wandered around to the basketball area and concession stand before relaxing on a bench outside the pool. We headed in to evening warmups about 20 minutes after the 3:30 opening before the 4:30 start (did 700m). 400 IM for masters was first, and I finished at 5:57. With no easy swimming, I took Greg's advice of some easy stretching under a hot shower.

    I watched Greg swim an inspiring 100 breast, which I will let him describe. I then splashed in for the 100 back and cranked out a 1:09.42 I felt like I had a great start and 10 sdk's before settling into a strong first half; then 10 skd's before motoring back.

    The last event of the night was the 50 free, and I watched Greg sneak under :30 in a beautiful swim. I was in the last heat and flubbed the start a bit but ended up with a 28.31, a great swim for me. I wanted to take just one breath, but after all of that swimming on the day I ended up taking three. I then did an easy 150 warmdown, totaling 2800 meters on the day.

    Here is a shot of the pool (Art Linkletter Natatorium):


    Great swag for swimmers: tee-shirt and latex cap for all, and medals for placing 1-3 as well as a windbreaker (per person) if you finish 1-4. I ended the day with two golds and two silvers, and Greg brought home two three bronzes! We decided to just swim the one day, so tomorrow the competetion continues without us. It was a neat format with the kids and masters swimming together, and as always it was fun to connect with my swim buddies in the area as well as make some new connections.
  2. 03/15/14: NEM SCY Champs Distance Day

    by , March 16th, 2014 at 09:55 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    The New England LMSC Short Course Yards Championship, affectionately known as "the Harvard Meet," attracts close to 900 people each March to the Boston area for some fast swimming in a great pool. This year there are a total of 854 swimmers from across New England and beyond. The meet is spread out over two weekends, with Distance Day in the middle of March on a Saturday offering either the 1000 or 1650 for both sexes, and then the regular meet the following Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I have never competed on the distance day and last year didn't swim at all, so with my weekend off this weekend I signed up for the 1650 this year.

    I was able to schedule a trip to Boston, my favorite city just three hours to the east of home, with my family and also squeeze in a swim at a pool I always look forward to swimming in. With our my daughter unable to attend and Jinho in Guatemala on a missions trip with the school, I rounded up my wife, Preston and Lina to join me. I also arranged to meet up with my aunt Pat, who lives a a few towns north of the city, to help show us around - she is apparently immune to the humid environment of the pool and tries to watch me swim when I am in town.

    We headed out Friday and checked into our hotel in Cambridge after an easy drive in. I had requested a parking pass, but they were out; fortunately I was able to get street parking within view of the room for the overnight period. We took the T into Government Center and explored Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, deciding to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe for pre-race nourishment. While chilly, the moon was shining as brightly over the lights throughout the area and we had a wonderful time.



    The next morning, I woke up before 8am in order to drive the car to the Harvard athletic area and park for free for the day. I walked from Blodgett Pool to Harvard Square to catch the T back to the hotel for breakfast. At this point I was able to get a parking pass (oh well, at least I would be covered for after the meet), and we headed out to meet my aunt at Park Street. We checked out the Old Granary Burial Grounds and Statehouse before making our way through the Commons, past the Ducklings and the Swan Pond, and down towards the finish of the Boston Marathon. We continued west on Newbury Street before getting back on the T to head up to Harvard. We farted around Harvard Square for a bit (there is the newstand with media from around the globe and checked out Newbury Comics before grabbing a quick bite at Subway (those new Flatizza things are tasty and not to heavy) before heading on to the pool. (I've been wearing a pedometer and so far had logged 11300 steps!)


    How long is it going to take to squeeze into this?

    Checked in, warmed up and waited. I was asking around for a counter, and met Matt from RI who was swimming in the heat before me in the shallow end so we counted for each other. Harvard has the main competition pool, 5 lanes in the diving well (29 yards), then 6 lanes in the shallow end. For distance day, you can opt to swim in the shallow end with an in-water start and save $2 on your entry fee; since this is my first 1650 (I did the 1500 scm at Riverton a couple of years ago) and my training has not been focused, I choose to swim there [Really, I'm just cheap ]. Matt had a great swim (his first mile, too - way to go, Matt!) and I quickly went from the turn end, grabbed my goggles and cap and hopped into the start end for my race.

    My plan going into the swim was to string together 3 x 500 then finishing out with a strong 150 to complete the 66 lengths required for the race. I maintained a comfortable pace and lead over Jon in the lane next to me for the first 500, working on two dolphin kicks off the wall and 13 stroked per lap. I increased to a strong kick for the first 4 strokes off the wall in the middle 500 and was able to stay ahead of Jon. I felt tired in the final 500, and around 47 Jon caught me as my upper back/shoulders tightened up, actually sneaking ahead in the mid 50's. I decided to pick up the tempo at 59 (a little earlier than I planned) with increased turnover and a stronger kick, battling back and forth with Jon. I gunned the last fifty and just touched out Jon, coming in at 19:38.89! What a race! I ended up taking first in my age group for the event.


    (rx in the green cap FTW!)

    Event 4 Men: 35-39 1650 Yard Freestyle
    ========================================
    1 rxleakem 36 Bennington-NE 19:57.75 19:38.89
    32.49 1:06.14 (33.65)
    1:39.93 (33.79) 2:14.82 (34.89)
    2:49.73 (34.91) 3:25.51 (35.78)
    4:01.03 (35.52) 4:37.08 (36.05)
    5:13.64 (36.56) 5:50.09 (36.45)
    6:26.14 (36.05) 7:02.19 (36.05)
    7:38.81 (36.62) 8:14.97 (36.16)
    8:51.13 (36.16) 9:27.72 (36.59)
    10:04.57 (36.85) 10:41.70 (37.13)
    11:18.35 (36.65) 11:54.62 (36.27)
    12:31.42 (36.80) 13:07.75 (36.33)
    13:44.25 (36.50) 14:20.92 (36.67)
    14:57.90 (36.98) 15:34.06 (36.16)
    16:10.23 (36.17) 16:46.25 (36.02)
    17:22.62 (36.37) 17:56.84 (34.22)
    18:32.58 (35.74) 19:08.21 (35.63) 19:38.89 (30.68)


    *Note that twice I had the same 50 split, something I have always found awesome in others swimmers.
    The second occurrence was back-to-back; a combo bonus!
    ** So I swam: 5:50.09, 6:04.53, 6:02.22 plus 1:42.05. Probably took the first 500 out ever so slightly too fast.

    After a quick warmdown (totaling 3774 yds for the day), we brought the car back to the hotel and took the T into town for dinner at Jacob Wirth/'s German Restaurant, in honor of our exchange student. I refueled with Wiener Schnitzel. We had a great time, capturing this photo before saying good night to my aunt after an excellent day:


    Preston (yes, he is 16 and that tall now), Auntie, Rx, and my beloved.

    This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took the long way home on Route 2, driving through Lexington and Concord to check out the pivotal starting points of the Revolutionary War along the Minute Man National Historical Park. We took some pictures at The Wayside, Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott penned Little Women), Emerson House, and finally Walden Pond, which is on my bucket lists for an OWS.

    Another most excellent swimming adventure!

    Updated March 16th, 2014 at 10:18 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  3. 03/01/14: Glens Falls Masters Meet

    by , March 1st, 2014 at 11:14 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Plans for easy swimming on Wednesday or Friday morning didn't happen. I did go snowbaording yesterday - had a lot of fun with temps in the teens and lots of sunshine. Lina from Germany made it down from the top of the moutain twice! It was her first year boarding and we celebrated with a stop to the Waffle Cabin

    I met with the Masters crew this morning, getting in this easy swim:
    - 200 Fr/200 IM drill/200 Bk
    - 4 x 50 kick
    - 8 x 25 drill
    - 5 x 50 on 1:15 (odds= EZ, evens = fast)
    - 200 w/d
    (Masters/Rec/1450 yards/40 min)
    ----------------------------------

    GregJS got out and we met at my house with my wife and headed to Glens Falls, NY, for their Masters meet today at the high school pool. This was actually my first pool meet in NY, as I tend to be working on the weekend of the meets over there, and we met with Steve and some of the Pittsfiled, MA, swimmers, as well as getting to know our ADMS peers during the meet.. The drive is about 75 minutes from home, so we got in some warmup there (I did 1100 yards, including some sprints from the blocks).



    The meet was run mixed and last just over two hours from the 2pm start. I picked my events with the plan to get a little rest and easy swimming in and it worked well, altough I knew that after my first event (2bk) coupled with boarding yeasterday my legs would be fried, so I picked two 50's and a 100 to cap the meet. I'll update with official results later, but I posted some really great swims that I am excited about:
    -200 Bk = 2:10.9
    - 50 fly = 26.9
    - 50 free = 24.6
    - 100 free = 52.9

    (Got in another 700 yards between warm up and cool down)

    I love these mini meets because you can watch as some folks are hitting the blocks in their first meet, and others are getting close to PB's as they cruise through the water. Steve, a former coach for the Maruarders in town, did the 500 for this first time in 40+ years, clocking a well executed time under 9 minutes. I was beat in the 50 fly by Patrick, and got to watch Greg swim his first 200 breast, even splitting it with a 2:44. While Dan from Pittsfield was out due to illness, Steve was there to help lead a group. I also talked with Denny, who finished right in front of me at Betsy Owens 2mile cable swim in August.

    The water was clear and cool for a meet that was very well run. I highly recommend this event if you are able to attend in the future, and hopefully my work schedule will allow me to make it again next year. Greg had great swims and my wife was able to put a dent (15 chapters) into a book she is reading (it would take me a month to read that much!). We stopped for a bite to eat on the way home, a super day!
  4. 01/18/14: Postal - One Hour Swim

    by , January 18th, 2014 at 08:53 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I started the day at a very beneficial men's breakfast - the food was great and the pastor shared with us "living within our needs" in terms of how we allocate the 168 hours/week we are given (aren't we used to looking at this idea in terms of money?). I have a sheet to consider.

    I got home before Masters and Lena was ready to come and help count for the OHS that I had planned for the team. I wasn't sure how many would do it, and was very surprised (and proud) that GregJS did an official swim with me, and Melissa, Meg and Kevin did it for the experience.

    I did a 300 warmup, took a Hammer gel and swig of water, then started. I ended up with 4560 yards, which was 5 less than last year, then 100 easy as we all talked about our feat. Here's to our little contribution helping our team remain champs again!
    500 1000
    6:06
    6:26 12:32
    6:35
    6:43 13:18
    6:37
    6:38 13:15
    6:55 (slight break here)
    6:36 13:31
    6:40

    (Masters/Rec/4950 yds/80 min)
    --------------------------------

    My wife took me out to Chili's for lunch, then we enjoyed a couple's massage downtown. We got home this evening for a dip in the hot tub as the snow was falling, now I'm ready for
  5. Workout 12/30/13: evening

    by , December 30th, 2013 at 10:50 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Been a while since I was in the pool, yet my GTD thicker has kept moving forward. Slowly. I've been even slower! I knew that I had opportunity for two swims (one tonight and one tomorrow at lunchtime) to knock out the 5017yds in order meet my goal for the year. 1hr 15min tonight, and I decided to go for it

    4 x 1000 on 14:00
    10 x 100 on 1:25
    150 loosen and out
    (Solo/Rec/5150 yds/90 min)
    ----------------------------

    My Go The Distance 2013 goal: 300.00 mi. Progress towards goal:
    ! Congratulations! You have achieved your goal for Go The Distance 2013
    My goal pace: 299.18 miles required as of today to reach my goal by the end of the event.
    My actual current pace: 300.08 miles as of today
    I figured that since I was able to do the 6k in ~1:20, and the One Hour in January netted around 4500, I had a shot. With a nearly empty pool and a full water bottle, off I went. I mixed up the thousands to help keep the math correct, then settled into some 100's when I had the time left at the end of all that distance (held 1:15 on them).

    Now I can take tomorrow off!
  6. 11/13/13: 6000yd Postal

    by , November 13th, 2013 at 10:23 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I was able to get in an easy 1200 yard swim Monday morning before work, and even saw a bit of the Veterans ay Parade as I was out giving flu shots. I am thankful for all in our lanes that have served our country and sacrificed. I appreciate you.

    I had an appointment this morning that I am waiting to hear back on, although the medical staff questioned if I am on any meds to lower my pulse due to a low heart rate. I replied, "Nope, I'm an endurance/marathon swimmer."

    After cleaning out the garage (a promise I keep to my wife before the first major snow fall, but usually after the first minor one ) today, I was able to convince my beloved to get splits for the 6000yd Postal swim, which I completed after dinner.

    500yd 1000 Cumulative
    6:25
    6:27 12:52
    6:43
    7:03 13:46 26:38
    7:03
    7:04 14:07 40:39 (eleven sec slower than the 3000yd!)
    7:02
    7:00 14:02 54:41
    6:50 (One hour ~ 4400yds)
    7:00 13:50 1:01:31
    6:54
    6:32 13:36 1:21:57.49

    150 loosen = 6150 yds total

    I took it out a little slower and ended up fairly close to my time from Sunday. I am pleased with the spliting, and tried to pick up the pace on the last 500. I did mostly free, but mixed in some one-arm fly and back. I noticed a little after the one hour mark that I started to get hungry - need to pack an energy gel next year. My wife was kind enough to make a note of the times I stopped for a drink or inquire about the distance I am blessed to have have her

    Updated November 13th, 2013 at 11:07 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Swim Workouts , Masters Swim Meets / Events , Timed swims
  7. 11/10/13: 3000yd Postal

    by , November 10th, 2013 at 02:45 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Punishment for master swimmer= Postal challenges
    Punishment for swimmer's kid= taking splits


    500 - cumulative
    6:14 06:14.11
    6:53 13:07.37
    6:48 19:55.74
    7:04 26:59.01
    6:39 33:38.53
    6:50 40:28.08

    Plus 400 as warm up and cool down
    (Solo/Rec/3400 yds/55 min)
    -----------------------------

    Felt ok, except for the 4th 500 - left shoulder was stiff so did more back and some stretches while swimming. Tuckered out on that last one. I was anticipating around 42, so am pleased with the effort. Our pool is open on Sunday's from Nov thru March, and people have yet to figure it out - more lane space for me
  8. 08/17/13: Betsy Owens Swim (USMS 2mile Cable Nationa Champs)

    by , August 18th, 2013 at 09:54 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    After a beautiful day Friday getting some errands done around time, my friend Brent stopped by the house to pick me up and we headed northwest on a three hour journey to the Adirondacks of New York, with the final destination of Lake Placid for the 2013 USMS National Championship 2 Mile Cable Swim, Betsy Owens Swim. I guided us though some great back road, agricultural settings until we hit Saratoga Springs ("Health, History, Horses") and picked up the Northway (I-87) before getting off on state route 73 through the High Peaks.

    We arrived at our home for the night, Art Devlin's Olympic Motor Lodge, and checked in, admiring the showcase that this Olympic ski jumper from the 60's acquired from all over the world and the view of the ski jumps to our south from the property. Brent swam at Betsy Owens a couple of years ago, so we ventured north into town on foot, walking past the 400m outside speed skating oval, ice arena (home of the "Miracle On Ice" game from 1980 OG), and the Olympic Center en route to the Mirror Lake, home of IronMan Lake Placid and Betsy Owens swim. It was a little cool, but the sun was hanging brilliantly in the sky just above the mountains surrounding the lake. I dipped my hands in the water, a tad cool and thankfully not really warm.

    We then checked out some of the shops downtown. Lake Placid is relatively void of major shopping outlets (only one small area with four or five shops), favoring traditional independent shops and restaurants in a town that has the hint of a European village. We ran into Jonathan, one of our Berkshire lake swimming buddies who was in town with his wife and daughter to race. He later shared that they bought a "passport" to check out the Olympic venues, and his daughter rode down the bobsled track! We ended up eating at a restaurant on the lake side, Generations, and enjoyed a relaxed pre-race meal before ice cream at Emma's Creamery and the nice stroll back to the lodge for a restful night's sleep.

    We got up a little after 7am to a brisk temperature of 46, and I grabbed some coffee and a lemon poppy muffin from the lodge as we checked out and drove to the beach for 8:15. Check in started at 8am, with warmups on the course from 8-9. There is a great grassy hill on the start end of the course, and Brent had a chair that he put down to mark our little area. After debating about "warming up," since the report race temperature was 69 degrees, we hopped in and did one loop of the 1/4 mile cable in the counter-clockwise direction that was prescribed for the race. This was my first swim of this type, and the cable was suspended about two feet below the surface of the lake, with a large orange buoy at the turning ends and small buoys every 10m along the length of the course. Since the water at Mirror Lake is very clear, the cable is very early to see as long as the sun is out.

    After drying off, we waited until the safety briefing and final attendance check-in at 9:15, where David and Ann reminded us that a total of 4 loops was needed to complete the race and that, although this is Open Water swimming, we were to be civilized or risk being DQ'd. It kinda reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings - we were lined up by wave (ten people) based on 1650 seed time and put into starting order, then proceeded to enter the water so that three waves were always wet. Just after 9:30am, every 30 seconds a wave is started in water (marked by a green buoy at a distance along the cable that offsets the distance to the two yellow buoys ending the race just before the beach), then the next one already in water swims up to the starting buoy and is counted down.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Course Map .jpg 
Views:	78 
Size:	93.9 KB 
ID:	7859

    I started in the middle of the second wave of the first heat and settled into a comfortable rate, purposefully not hovering cable. Here starts the "Did you get the number of the person who ran me over?" issue, as many folks do not want to leave the cable and will be happy to engage in contact to stay on it. Incidental contact is always an issue, and if I am on the giving end I'll move around it as soon as I realize it. Others have no problem banging into you incrementally from toe to head - oh well. Expect the unexpected!

    As usual, I spend much of the swim praying as I enjoy moving through the water, especially taking in the sites of the venue around the OW event. I caught some in the end waves as I approached the end of the third lap, and went around the turn buoy on the start of the final lap and went wide to get around another pod. I increased my kick and kept the turnover strong, passing some in the first wave before turning at the far end of the course for the last time (well, I swam a couple strokes past it ). I then kept going strong into the finish, where we were handed a numbered popsicle stick and advised to stay in order, handing in the stick as our race number was recognized once on the beach. I was seeded 15th and finished the race with number 10, which could change after the second heat completed their swim.

    After a quick warmdown of 200m, I spent some time in the sun (air temp now 64) with Brent and Jonathan's family as he took off in the first wave of the second heat. I then got changed and vegged out, watching this Nascar of swimming, where folks circle around the rack and some bumping happens. Interestingly, one lady shouted that another swimmer should be DQ'd for pushing her underwater, describing in detail the man and his suit - she later, on the beach, sought him out and lambasted him a bit (to which he replied, "I was just swimming on the cable, you ran into me." to her shouts.

    So, this type of an event really does keep the spectator interested. I have come to realize that contact is indeed going to happen, especially in this more competitive atmosphere. I agreed with Brent that for many of the point to point OWswims, there is more of a sense of just swimming and enjoying the journey, rather than "racing." I am sure that some swims may not feel this way, but I rather enjoy just getting out and going. My final time was 47:34.58, good for second place in my age group, just 30 seconds behind Brent. I am happy that he is the National Champ, and that I was able to be that close to him time-wise since I consider him a much faster distance swimmer than myself.

    After the second heat finished (82yo Patrick was a great inspiration), we stayed for the great lunch that was put on for us and then the award ceremony. I met with some of the Middlebury Muffintops, as well as a Twitter friend, Alicia, that I have been following for about a year now (she was 2nd place on the women's side). New friends are great! I believe that it was announced that the 2014 National Champs will also be held during the Betsy Owens swim. I would recommend checking it out and making plans to attend next year for a great swim experience, in an area where you find fun for the whole family! If your lucky, it will not be as cold!
  9. 07/13/13: Peaks to Portland OW Swim

    by , July 14th, 2013 at 09:30 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I had another great time at the 32nd annual Peaks to Portland 2.4 mile ocean swim in Portland, Maine. This was my fourth year in a row attending, a great trip that allows me time to catch up with friends in the city and swim to help raise funds for the YMCA there. You can see my blog from last year here for some background info if you'd like, including why the use duct tape is encouraged

    I headed up on Friday morning (after an EZ 1000yds in the pool) with my son and checked in, receiving my cap, kayaker's flag, and tee shirt, then we went to the East End Beach, where the swim ends, to enjoy the beautiful day. Dinner again at Tortilla Flats and a good night's sleep to get ready for the swim. Got up around 5:30am so we could get to the ferry station before ships away at 6:45; two ferries were used (the "car" one filled with kayaks and the people one that I took) to transport us to Peaks Island for check-in, body marking, time chip getting, and some safety meetings as we waited for the race to start at 9am. Bobby, my yaker, joined many others in paddling over so I met him there.

    This year's event was the largest ever for the Y, with 400 people signed up. In fact, many locals did not make it (I missed my buddies jbs and slknight) due to various reasons and I was on the waiting list because they filled up before the end of March. I got the call to register in May, so I was a bit lonely this year. I did see my inspiration for doing these open water/marathon swims, Pat Gallant-Charette, already swimming off the beach while waiting for the start, so I did not get a chance to say hi. The water was slightly colder than last year, 63-4 degrees, with low tide slated to start with our race, meaning very little assist again this year. The sun was out making for a gorgeous day to swim!

    We had more time on the beach, which was good in respect to having more time to get all checked in, where we discovered that nearly half of the swimmers were newbies. It was a rather long time mulling about though, since I learned the first year not to "warm up" because that is what the swim is for! I was in the first (of 5) wave, and we waded out to the end of the pier as they counted down to our start. I lined up again on the right of the main pack and took off towards the bobbing yakers to meet with Bobby at the prescribed time.

    The swim itself was good. There was as slight current against us as we headed towards our escorts (more than once I ran into a gaggle of yakers due to inexperience, and almost got hit twice - they found and paddled to their swimmers without looking to see what was happening around them), then we basically hit slack tide for the rest of the race. As you get to the midway point, there is generally a bit of swell, so I tried to pick up the pace. Besides some lobster cages, the course was generally free from obstacles, and there was no real current into the beach finish zone, which was well marked by an orange buoy on the left and four or so green buoys on the right. Due to the lack of tide, Bobby took us on a line towards the center of the course, which helped us move past those too far out on our left and catch up to the ones to our right that took too tight of a line. I did one dolphin dive (thanks mmead!) then stood up in knee-high water and took a few steps to reacclimate to the vertical plane. I tried to side step a bit and was going to walk again, but the huge crowd on the beach was cheering so I kept pushing ahead towards the big clock and hospitality tent just up the beach.

    So, of the 335 swimmers that started the event (based on final reults), I was the 32nd to cross the finish line, 5th in my age group, and first overall of the 23 "naked" folks, repeating the feat from last year. My time was 59:09.5, which (also a repeat) was slower than last year , although I did not take a break and felt like I swam faster. For reference, I finished just under 50 minutes in 2011, which proves that the tides can help or hinder in Casco Bay.

    I can't say enough how much I enjoy this event, which has grown considerably over the years (and even since I started taking part in 2010) and still has some minor hiccups due primarily to it's size. The distance is spot on for the OW newbie or seasoned warrior to complete, and there is a real fun vibe throughout as family, friends, and townsfolk cheer on the swimmers and their festively-colored kayaks. It's easy to see why this event is considered one of the top 50 in our country, and why I will register earlier to make it my fifth trip next year to enjoy some more of "the way life should be."

    Some links if you are interested:
    Friday's preview, noting Pat's friend Miyuki Fujita, who came from Japan to swim
    Sunday's review with a picture slideshow
    Some pics I took here and here .
    Full results
    Write-up from Munatones OWS blog
    Local news video
    A neat picture review I found from 2012 - see the waves head out from Peaks

    Updated July 15th, 2013 at 10:25 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
  10. 07/06/13: Fifth Kingdom Swim (my second)

    by , July 7th, 2013 at 11:10 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    After enjoying last year's Kingdom 10 Miler, I decided to sign up again this year and make the trip to the northern reaches of my home state to tackle the mighty Lake Memphremagog. I have some notes/observations that I can refer to from last year:

    First, Lena did not make the trip. She has been having some stomach issues going on and I really don't think she was enthused to witness me plodding along in the water again, so she rested at home. Preston did join me, along with my buddy Bob from Maine and his wife and son. They were in town to visit his folks, and drove up north behind me. We enjoyed some stops along the way (VT Country Store and lunch in Lebanon, NH) and made it to Newport by 4pm. I went to register at the Gateway then took a nap, waking up in time to sit through post-parade traffic to strap my feedbag on for the annual pasta dinner that race director Phil White and the gang put on. The rain that had fallen shortly before supper cleared out, leaving a great view of the lake for all to enjoy.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG2232.jpg 
Views:	79 
Size:	195.4 KB 
ID:	7711


    In comparison to last year's swim:
    - Similarly, it was overcast to start the swim. Only saw faint peaks of sunlight after passing Buoy 7, then it shined fully after the 8th. This was excellent (humane) for the yakers and didn't really bother me too much.
    - Water temp was 72 degrees, which was warmer than last year. I put on some weight expecting colder temps, so I lugged some extra lard for this swim.
    - My feeds were not as concentrated, and I did fine with them. Fewer calories did not make a difference for me, which is good to note.
    - The Kayakers deployed in a little different formation, and it took my 15 minutes to find Bobby. Many of them did not line up where they were directed to, so I just kept swimming. No collisions which is always an answer to prayer
    - See last year's post noted above from the course layout. Not much to report until we rounded Buoy 3, where the "po po" boat had blue lights flashing and another boat stopped. Found out later from Bob that the boat was flying south towards the course without hint of slowing down, and had to be intercepted by either the Newport City Police or Boarder Patrol boat. Crazy!
    - Some waves rolled us around as we crossed the northern end of the lake from Buoy 3-4 (just like last year). I was with two other swimmers (last year I was by myself), and we rounded Buoy 5 together, which was interesting.
    - Again this year, we held close to the islands and straight on to Buoy 6, then stayed more in the lake as opposed to Derby Bay, where the current was tossing people. The waves were IMO slightly less rough than last year, but pounded for a longer portion of the long leg from Buoy 6-7. It was tiring!
    - After Buoy 6B, I caught up to someone that passed my by the lighthouse (and also put a lot of distance on the two guys with my at Buoy 5). I passed him, then he drafted off me. I didn't mind at first, but after ten minutes of pulling him I did some backstroke and slowed down, hoping that he would return the favor. Didn't happen. After about a mile of this, I took a scheduled feed and let him go past. He ended up finishing a minute ahead of me.
    - My shoulders felt better prepared for the long swim, but the pounding during the long leg took its toll, as I had a difficult time in the last hour or so keeping good body position.
    - Bob noted the time and my stroke count at the big buoys, and was steady around 58-9 stokes per minute at each point. Last year I cycled between swimming 20-30 fast strokes followed by 50-60 regular ones; this year I just tried to stay even with stokes and kicking throughout.
    - I skipped my last feed at at the bottom of the hour and motored into Prouty Beach with a time of 4hrs, 37 min, 53 sec, which was 46sec slower than last year. I'm pleased based on the conditions.


    Another great weekend, which is just the start of swimming in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. It'a always fun to meet up with forumites, and see some folks from last year. I am disappointed that USMS was not the sanctioning body for the swim (although there was an agreement for this last year before the OW stuff went down) as I think more people may have swam in it. Nonetheless, Phil has a great lineup of swimming in beautiful lakes in that bucolic part of Vermont throughout the summer, and I highly recommend joining in the fun if you are able to! www.kingdomswim.org

    Updated July 7th, 2013 at 11:48 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	KingdomCourses.jpg 
Views:	80 
Size:	85.7 KB 
ID:	7710  
  11. 04/27/13: Monumental Masters Mini Meet (2nd Annual)

    by , April 27th, 2013 at 03:10 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Well, months of planning and also some training came and went today as we welcomed swimmers to the local Rec Center pool for our 2nd meet, again dedicated to my mom. We had 34 preregister, one couldn't come, and added 5 same-day entries for a total of 38 swimmers! Last year we had 23, so I am really excited for the increase in numbers.

    I got to the pool around 8:30 and helped with setting things up. People started trickling in and warmups began as scheduled at 9am. The local age group team, the Marauders, again did a great job of running the meet for us, providing timers and counters for the 50, and we had three officials altogether.

    There was a large contingent from the Pittsfield Polar Bears, some from Smith Collge and also a team out near Blechertown, MA, and other unattached swimmers (Lisa Ann won the farthest distance traveled, coming from New Jersey). It was fun getting to meet new people that share my passion for swimming. My brother, Jeff, swam again - he swam from Springfield College but hasn't been in the water since then, save last year's meet, and looks fresh as a daisy swimming. Stinker! My wife also swam in her first ever meet, rocking out the 50 free and proudly proclaiming afterwards, "I did it, now don't ask me ever again."

    In addition to meet director, I coached the three area swimmers that came (GregJS, Jill, and Kevin). Greg dropped time in the 100 free and blasted out a smoking 100 IM - great job again, Greg! Plus, he is a really good chef and made some delicious muffins for the food spread we had in the lobby for swimmers.

    I was not sure what to expect myself for times, and I did the 100 breast with Dan during the women's heat so no one swam alone as a warm up for the 100 back. My goal was to SDK 8,7,6,6 off the walls, but only was able to get 5 on the last one as I swam 57.73. I did the 500 fly in 6:48.08, and the 100 fly in 58.72. I'll update the times when the results are official, but all of the these swims were masters best for me!

    Lots of great help, a full pool (which is such a great sight to see), and some fun swimming on a gorgeous day made for a memorable event, complete with our signature 25 Sprint Challenges, the Monument Kick and Tarzan swims. Now for a nap! (I was also able to FLOG 2350 yds for the day)

    Updated May 7th, 2013 at 10:44 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  12. Workout 03/15/13:

    by , March 15th, 2013 at 11:18 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Made the five hour trip to Rochester yesterday without incident and visited Roberts Wesleyan, running into a friend's son on campus. We ran a bit behind schedule so my thoughts of swimming at their pool didn't happen. We then drove made our way 90 minutes to the southwest and arrived at Houghton just before dinner. Fun thing last night was the use of the rock climbing wall here, my first time partaking in this activity. I was able to ascend the flat wall totally, and made it about 2/3 up the angled one. Really good workout for the arms and core!

    Today I had some time to relax as the kids went to classes and in the afternoon played hoops for half an hour. Then my dip in the pool at the
    George R. Wells Natatorium: Located in the Nielsen Physical Education Center, this six-lane 25-meter pool features three diving boards (one a three-meter board).
    Three lanes roped off for laps, the other three for splashing about, in clear water that was a refreshingly cool 81, but no backstroke flags. I did:

    200 Fr/200 Bk/200 IM drill
    1 Noah's Ark with agility paddles
    100 loosen

    8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 laps, with 30 seconds Vertical Kick between each

    100 loosen
    Major calf cramp, which happens rarely and I attribute to not hydrating enough
    300 more splashing around then out
    (Solo/Houghton/2500 yds plus VK/50 min)
    -----------------------------------

    Felt good besides the cramp. I guess dealing with that is good training for open water.
    Picked up that main set from the Muntones OW book and wrote something similar for the masters group back home, do figured I would do it myself.

    Tomorrow after breakfast we head about two hours to Niagara Falls, then head a tad over six hours home. Considering I have been sleeping on the floor with no pillow these two nights away, I am very much looking forward to getting home Saturday night and crashing into my own bed.
  13. Workout 01/24/13: OHS

    by , January 24th, 2013 at 09:54 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Cold weather continues, so I was able to take advantage of two factors today: the occupancy in the lanes was sparse and GregJS was available to observe my attempt for the One Hour Swim. With a goal of 4300yds, I pushed off and did ...

    0500 5:59.25
    1000 6:22:66
    1500 6:31:67
    2000 7:06.00 (water break)
    2500 6:30.69
    3000 6:32.12
    3500 6:58.38 (water break)
    4000 6:35:62
    4500 6:31.94
    4565 0:51.57

    I felt good in the water, and was able to reign in the last third by really focusing on EVF and consistent body roll in route to a regular SPL. This is almost 300 yards more than last year! I kept an eye on Greg as well, and he expanded on his tally from last year as well, so all in all a great contribution from the Bennington Monument Masters to Team New England Masters total for the national championship!

    In other news, I also volunteered some time today to help with the age group team in town. I was able to get in an additional 1600 (so total of 6165yds on the day) as I helped to reinforce proper streamlining skills off every wall, and also long-axis body rotation. It is fun to work with the kids, and they again paid attention to me as I helped to be a for fast swimming with less effort.
  14. Workout 12/22/12: Squad Meet

    by , December 22nd, 2012 at 10:13 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Busy few days off for me, starting with the storms that moved through the area yesterday. It was super windy (lost some pieces of gutter and my compost bin blew across the yard) with power outages throughout the area. A huge tree fell over near the high school, cutting power to most of the downtown and crushing two cars, and a double rainbow also filled the sky:


    The local paper has a story about it here. The Rec Center also lost power so no swimming for me, which was fine since I was helping my wife get prepared for our annual lasagne dinner with family around the Christmas holiday. Great night with good food and time spent with loved ones.

    This morning, with snow lightly falling, the Rec was open again, but a sign greeted us at the door announcing the pool temperature at 75 degrees.
    With the power outage, the pool dropped about 10 degrees since Thursday. I had organized a squad meet with the local age group team as well as masters from nearby Williamstown, Ma, and we didn't let the colder water deter us. Well, one of our swimmers bailed and spent the whole morning in the sauna, but I enjoyed the cool water for a change. We again used the swim to gather nonperishable donations for the local food shelf as an "entry fee," a great way to branch into the community.

    I joined the team in the water for quite literal warmups:

    500 choice (I did 600)
    5 x 50 builds on 1:15
    1 x 100 FR strong (overkick odd lengths)

    Then the racing began! Fourteen wees ones (and their three coaches) lined up with five of us from Bennington and our four new friends from Williamstown through the schedule of events below. I ended up swimming the 100 back (1.00.7), back in the Medley Relay, 100 free (53.7), and two legs on the 200 Free Relay to log 1225 yards. We also introduced the age groupers to the "cap relay," where the object is to get one member of the team into a standard latex cap and swim them to the other end of the pool - it was a blast!



    A fun day, followed by a nap for me. We collected 25 pounds of food which will be a great help for our community. The plan is to start up training for the spring with the New Year, and I am thinking that I will actually be ready to start swimming in earnest by then again.
  15. Meet 12/08-09/2012: NEM SCM Champs

    by , December 9th, 2012 at 09:42 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Just back from another great weekend of racing in Boston at the New England Masters scm championships. I really like the Boston University pool, even though I spent a lot of time in the outside lanes. Ahh, OUTSIDE SMOKE! (there was some inside at the hotel, you'll get there if you keep reading).

    Here is what I entered and how I did (seed times were either PB or "I think I should be able do this time." I'll update splits another night:

    06 100 SCM IM 1:11.62
    went 1:08.31
    (30.11, 38.20)
    - Strong fly and back, felt like I didn't lose ground on the breast, then sprinted home. Felt really good. This one gets a

    08 200 SCM Breast 3:13.31
    went 3:13.68
    (43.84, 49.72[1:33.56], 50.03, 50.09[1:40.12])
    - Gridge #1 of the day - I was one person shy of swimming with AZTimm, and he beat me, as expected
    - Race was good; I had to choose at the 100 if I was going to really start hammering or not, and I really didn't, opting to continue another 50 of "ride the glide." Happy with the time.

    12 200 SCM Back 2:24.82
    went 2:21.68
    (34.19, 35.44[1:09.63], 36.01, 36.04[1:12.05])
    - Super duper psyched with this swim. I put a lot of effort into working the underwaters more and staying in control for the first 100, then hitting the accelerator. My wife taped it - my left hand is doing something funny on entry, so I need to address that. Slipped on the wall at 125, and I probably don't have to remind everyone that this event is perhaps the most painful of all since it is so kick-driven. My quads were screaming the whole rest of the meet, but I loved the pain.

    18 50 SCM Fly 0:31.20
    went 29.49
    - Mimicked Fort (not really duplicated since I don't think she swam it) and blasted the underwaters. Popped up a few meters shy of the yellow line going out, and took 10 SDK's off the wall on the way home. This was a really fast time for me.

    20 200 SCM Free 2:14.30
    went 2:12.98
    (31.01, 35.15[1:06.16], 34.45, 32.37[1:06.82])
    - Another fast swim with a slightly altered strategy from my normal 200. Felt strong on the front half but need to really start grinding it out earlier in the second half.

    Day 1 done (flogged 1350 meters and 1500 yards), and off to dinner with my wife, son, SwimStud, Fortress, and AZTimm at a Mexican place across the street from the pool. Glad the day ended somewhat early as the joint was hopping when we left. Excellent dinner and conversation, although I have to say that chicken chimichangas are off the menu during weekend meets from now on, I don't want to repeat the gut rot anytime soon.

    Got to the hotel shortly (didn't stay at meet hotel, but found another one close to Fenway that had breakfast) after 6pm, so lots of time to relax. Was debating on taking an Ambien to help sleep and I was pretty wiped out so fell asleep by 9:30ish on my own. Good thing, as right before 3am the fire alarm went off. First time in a hotel that this has happened, apparantly due to some people smoking pot a few floors above us. Left most of my stuff in the room (save goggles and suit in case save a reply of Backdraft loomed), and around 3:45 we got the all clear to leave the lobby and go back upstairs. Finally got back to bed closer to 5 and up at 7:30.

    Back at the pool for Day 2, my aunt Pat came down to sit in the sauna on her day off. I see her a few times a year, and just like when we were kids she makes a point to be a cheerleader for us. <3

    30 400 SCM Free 4:45.57
    went 4:43.83
    (31.85, 35.02[1:06.87], 36.05, 36.54[1:12.59,2:19.46],
    36.79, 36.62[1:13.41], 36.50, 34.46[1:10.96,2:24.37])
    - This was gridge number two, the five-way parlay looking for greatest time drop. That Guy, can you get the results posted for us? Q-brain was the winner I believe.
    -Was 8 seconds faster than last year, and I felt in control. I am still weary of inflicting too much pain at this distance, and could have stepped it up a notch around the 225 mark, but didn't. The gridge (as always) really forced me to put a lot of effort into swimming faster than normal, so I am much obliged, gentlemen.
    - I counted for Tim's great swim and he reciprocated the favor - thanks again, Tim.

    34 100 SCM Free 1:00.43
    went 58.22 (lane 10)
    (28.34, 29.88)
    - :fistpump: I wanted to get under 1 minute, and was surprised at a low 58. I went old school splitting on this: 25 strong (87%), 25 build, 25 SPRINT, 25 whatever is left. Worked out well; I don't mind the pain on the 100's.

    38 50 SCM Back 0:31.15
    went 30.64 (lane 10)
    - So I thought that there were 10 heats, but there were actually 8. 7 was in the water and I was still farting around behind the blocks, then the timers shout my name and I to the water. The judge mentioned "worse than the 8 and unders", but I think he was talking about my start.
    - with Fort - I SDK'd 12 going out and came up even closer to the yellow lines than yesterday's fly, slipped on the turn, SDK'd 10 and churned home. I think I won this gridge by two tenths of a second.
    - Apparently in the warmdown lane I "cannonballed" SwimStud, as all of a sudden, in my weakened state, he grabbed my ankle and dunked me. Sorry Rich, but good times in the warmdown pool nonetheless.

    44 200 SCM Fly 2:43.33
    Scratched
    - Saturday night I was strongly trying to persuade myself to swim this wonderful event again, and after the "Cyprus Hill gathering" way past my bedtime I decided to skip it. I swam it a month ago in Maine, and I wanted to focus on my last event. Sorry to let the Butternuts among us down. :TargetShootingPracticeOpen:

    48 100 SCM Back 1:07.75
    went 1:05.76
    (32.83, 32.93)
    - This one gets a
    - Reverted to old school 100 splitting again, and went 32.83, 32.93. Was able to keep my SDK's off the walls as planned (8,6,6,5) and although I jammed the first turn the final time was excellent.
    (Flogged 2150m and 800yds)

    So, nine swims and nine PB's (many multi-second drops), great times with my family as well as swimming friends (including ones not on the forums), first near missed swim and false fire alarm at the hotel, exceeeded max number of images in blog post and needed to edit, and dinner with ice cream from Friendly's on the three hour ride home. Can't wait for next year!

    Updated December 31st, 2012 at 05:02 PM by rxleakem

    Tags: boston, bu scm
    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  16. Meet 11/11/12: Riverton (scm)

    by , November 11th, 2012 at 09:03 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    First - thanks to all you in blogger land that have served our country in the military. I appreciate the sacrifice that you and your family have made for our country and the freedoms that we enjoy in it.

    Had a great weekend trip up to Maine for the 5th Annual Greater Portland Swim Meet. After I finished coaching the masters group here in town (and confirmed my suspicion that it is, indeed, possible to deposit a human into a standard latex swimming cap then transport them down the length of the pool (I'll post a picture the next time this happens), I grabbed a quick lunch and hit the road for a 4.5 hour drive to Maine. I arrived at my friend's house as dinner preparations were underway, and was able to catch up with my kayaker Bobby, his wife Val, and their son Troy.

    Val's parents came by and we enjoyed a great dinner of lasagne, salad, and chocolate cake with some Ben and Jerry's for dessert. Great conversation, especially since it was not dominated by swimming (which happens way to often), then we played some Mario Cart on the Wii before getting to bed. A good breakfast today then I made the ten minute drive across town to the Riverton community pool.


    6 lane, 25 meter pool, 82 degrees


    After getting changed (wore my New England Master square leg suit for warmups, and Yingfa racer for events) I ran into JBS and warmed up in the lane next to him. I have two inspirations for this meet - doing the Brute Squad events just like John did last year, and another I'll discribe later for the 200 fly. I assured John I wouldn't blame him for choosing these events, because the idea of the challange (even though this particular one is not being run this year) in swimming the three events in one meet that most people never swim is just the right kind of crazy for me to take on.

    Anywho, got in my standard 1300 warmup and rested during the 400 FR with my yaker and family, who came to watch me suffer through the 400 IM. IIt was Bob's first ever swim meet experience, so I explained a little bit about how the whole thing works and my own procedures leading up to a swim. I almost would rather swim an ultra-marathon OW swim over pool events these days, as there is a lot more energy involved in preparing for tactics in the pool events, whereas for the most part you just hop in a swim 10 miles. Well, it kind of makes sense I guess.

    400 IM 5:32.85
    33.23 40.11
    (1:21.47) - missed the pad twice I guess
    52.35 54.25
    36.02 35.42
    - Only the second time I have swam this race, and I felt really happy with the time. I had to ease a bit on the second 50 of the fly as I didn't want a repeat of my first attempt at this, and was thinking "crap, I'm going to swim the 200 fly after this." Settled into a really smooth back leg, with strong turnover and little kick as I controlled breathing. Then I just focused on staying underwater as long as possible on breast before powering home the free portion. Bob mentioned that I looked really good until the breast leg, and I laughed because while it is still not stellar, it has improved dramatically over last year. Did a 200 before this and 150 after to loosen up, and waited a bit before the ...

    200 Fly 2:43.33
    35.65 42.29
    44.47 40.92
    - I was talking with John before this, as we were the only two doing it, about warming up, and we both figured we'd just swim it (why waste any energy?) I tried to find my inner-TG DPS flyer and took it easy for the first 150. Some may call it loafing (I did), but I maintained 8 spl, then decided to build into the seventh 25 and then lay the hammer down (it wasn't heavy, believe me) on the last length.
    - Did this in honor of Peony Munger from the Pacific Northwest that James mentioned in his meet write-up. What an incredible woman who left a great legacy for USMS in this difficult event.

    50 Breast 39.58
    - Did this for kicks, frog kicks that is. After a 150 cooldown from the fly, I swam a really fast time for me. I had Dan from the Pittsfield (MA) Polar Bears watch me, and he gave good advice about improving my start and also keeping my hands more in front of my body instead of trying to bring them to my chest. I almost got DQ'd on the start - I have been breaking streamline, holding my hands apart and deploying the dolphin kick, then resuming my pull, but the official wasn't all that sure that I could stop my pull to kick. I do intentionally break streamline and move my hands apart, but I'll have to check on this to be sure I don't get deeked from doing the only thing that is fast about my breaststroke at this point.

    1500 Free +split request 19:41.94
    (400 = 5:06.66, 800 = 10:28.62)
    33.63 36.79 38.35 38.29 39.61
    39.65 40.20 40.14 40.67 40.73
    39.71 38.62 41.56 40.57 39.59
    40.51 37.46 39.64 41.38 41.45
    39.75 39.82 40.51 40.59 41.06
    39.29 40.08 38.85 40.09 33.35
    - My first mile swim in the pool. My plan was to just lengthen out my 500 strategy, by doing 1-2 SDK's off each wall, kicking hard past the flags then dropping into strong DPS and a two-beat kick to maximize shoulder roll. I was also thinking about pwb's 800 from yesterday and counted strokes. I was able to hold 13-14 spl, but when I didn't SDK it jumped to 16. I wanted to negative split, but think my second 500 was too slow to accomplish this, as I tried to pick it up too soon and felt like crap, so I slowed down more than I probably would have. I kicked a bit farther off each wall as the 100's ticked off, and with 200 left my stomach was aching. I did my best to switch to a six-beat kick anyway, and on the last 50 gave everything left in the tank. (Thankfully it staying in there too, because on more than one occasion I was not sure that would happen)

    After this I did a 100 float, flogging 4250 meters for the day. This is a great meet, as Son is able to provide the only 1500 scm in New England as well as all of the stroke and IM options in a meet that takes about 3.5 hours from start to finish. I was very thankful that he was also able to get the officials and timers, as well as count my 1500, to allow this meet to happen. It is a fast pool with a great mix of fast swimmers as well as folks entering their first event.

    It was a long ride home, but I manged to get gas in New Hampshire for 17 cents cheaper than here at home. I also stopped at Wendy's for a grilled chicken sandwich and french fries to help restock my glycogen stores, and added a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich from my second pit stop. Always great to check in with my Maine breather, and be around a great group of folks helping to reach their community with the joys of masters swimming!

    Updated November 13th, 2012 at 10:00 PM by rxleakem

    Tags: 1500, 400 im, riverton
    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  17. 07/21/12: Peaks to Portland

    by , July 22nd, 2012 at 10:44 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Another fair warning: long race report blog to follow ...

    This marked my third year swimming in the P2P 2.4 mile swim in Casco Bay, separating Peaks Island from the East End Beach in Portland, Maine. I first learned of this event after stumbling across the blog of Pat Gallant-Charette and asking our friends who live in Portland about this fundraising event for the YMCA in the region. Bobby had heard of it and had a kayak and a willingness to paddle for me, so I began my dive back into swimming (after a ten year + hiatus from the sport) by training for it. Most folks take the ferry out to the island in the morning (although one EC vet opted to swim it as a warmup this year), and after finalizing registration and a brief meeting we are sent off in one of four waves through the Atlantic Ocean to the finish line, passing Fort Gorges. Here is a link to the race map.


    Since the weather was forcasted to be beautiful, we headed up to Maine in two vechiles: Lena took Preston and our nephew Adam in the car and I took the motorcycle. It was cloudy until we hit the border of Vacationland on the five hour trek, but then the sun popped out and did not disappear the entire weekend. What a glorious ride! After checking in at the Y and picking up my packet on Friday, we met up with our Maine hosts and ate at Tortilla Flat before heading back to the house, where Bobby and I took a short motorcycle cruise around town and to the park overlooking Casco Bay towards Peaks Island:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG1155.jpg 
Views:	100 
Size:	150.0 KB 
ID:	6876

    JBS contacted me earlier in the week to invite me to join the group that he and slknight swim with for a warmup at the outdoor Kiwanis Pool if I was up for it. I figured that I since I was able to get up to join tjrpatt in Philly for a 6am practice I could do the same in Portland, and Bobby and family was willing to get up so I dropped in for some pool tourism and about 400 meters are stretching out before the race. John gave me a ride to the ferry and I had a new friend, Jeff, snap this picture of your intrepid bloggers for your viewing pleasure:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG1158.jpg 
Views:	77 
Size:	198.9 KB 
ID:	6874

    We reached to island and signed off on waivers and got our timing chip. In the process I met up with Bobby, who paddled out with a friend instead of boarding the ferry, and was able to pass off my clothes to him and get duct tape on my feet before the final morning briefings took place. Duct tape? Yes, since the beach is essentially a mussel bed with sharp shells and some rocks, so wading out to the start can be treacherous (I still managed a few cuts on my toes this year). I also finally met Pat before the swim, as I did not find her last year during a season where she completed both the English and Catalina channels. Pat rocks!

    There was a brief moment of silence to honor three pioneers of the race before a warmup period was allowed. After the my experience the first year, shivering in the cold between "warmups" and the start of the swim, I stayed on the beach and watched as the yakers departed from the beach and many got in some practice strokes. After a bit of work on the organizers part to clear the water and line up the waves of swimmers, I slowly entered the water with the first group to the end of the pier to await our sendoff, gazing past the waiting kayakers and towards the far end of the bay.

    As arms and legs started to flail at the start, I found myself towards the center of the pod as we made strides into the cool water, a balmy 64-65 degrees this year. I have gotten a little more accustomed to not only the "ice cream headache" from the cold water but also the bumping at the start of the race, and didn't really get to tied up with anyone besides the usual hitting of hands and tapping of toes. I was able to get my head fully submerged within twenty strokes, and got into a strong swimming pattern. I found Bobby easily off shore due to the American Flag sailing above his kayak, and we made our way out into the ocean. Overall the water was much warmer than last year, but we found some colder spots.

    Low tide occurred about an hour before the race started, so we ventured into the slack tide, which really didn't play into the swim until we rounded Fort Gorges around the halfway point. Bobby kept our line a little more to the west of the Fort, and we didn't have any issues until one of the swimmers without a kayak suddenly cut right in front of us. Bob moved from my right side to the left, then I saw legs appear out of nowhere! He kept heading towards the Old Port, until the police boat on the periphery pointed him in the right direction: we joked afterwards that he must have been swimming to the West End Beach! A few waves from the ferry splashed us around, but the water was fairly calm until the currents picked up after the Fort. I was about to get a quick drink when Bobby announced that we were at 34 minutes, which prompted me to forgo the feed and usual comedic banter to power on towards our goal.

    We were again able to pick off some of the swimmers that stayed on a line closer to the Fort, and as we came closer to the finish area I could see the beach was packed! This year saw the highest number of participants at 316, over half of them were first-time athletes and 19 of us swam "naked," without a wetsuit. As we approaced the boats floating just off the beach, we were joined by three other kayaks. I focused on a strong kick and a faster turnover as I made my way into the finish area. Again I did a few breaststroke cycles before trying to stand up, then did my best to jog out of the water to the finish line. I was excited to hear the announcer mention that "it looks like our first non-wetsuit swimmer is making his way up the chute," and looked up to see a time of 51:52 before seeing John on the beach. Susan was the first female to emerge without a wetsuit shortly after - note that both of them swam without a yaker!

    I met with my family and the Browns on the beach for pictures and celebration. After getting hosed off I took advantage of the free massage for swimmers before watching and cheering all of the swimmers into the beach. The harbormaster sounded the siren as the last swimmers reached the finish - Terry Swain, the aquatics director of the Y had waited near the boats offshore for all of the other swimmers to make land before finding her way there.

    We packed up the cars then headed into the Old Port for lunch at Flatbread before heading home for a nap! We finished off the day by wandering down to Old Orchard Beach for some seashell hunting and relaxing on the beach before eating our way back to the house. It was another great weekend for a swim, and by far the most pleasant on the weather front. Susan sent a link to the Press Herald writeup and agreed that everyone finished about two minutes behind the pace from last year, likely due to the tide. John also saw a link on The Daily News of Open Water Swimming site about the swim that I am sure Pat sent in.

    I can't wait for the excitement of next year's 32nd annual race with my friends in Maine! (I might even try to swim over to Peaks in the morning, but don't hold me to it too much) A lot of hard work goes into making this event happen, and I am very thankful that God has blessed me with a supportive family, a great team (including someone crazier than me that volunteers to kayak and his family, as well as Linda and Ron, who always cheer us on), all the volunteers, and the collective ability of all the swimmers to be able to raise money to help offer the benefits of the YMCA to folks who otherwise could not gain access to them.

    Here is a picture of the best wingman in the business, my yaker Bobby, before the race:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG1161.jpg 
Views:	81 
Size:	177.5 KB 
ID:	6877

    Updated July 22nd, 2012 at 11:33 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Swim Workouts , Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Files
  18. 07/07/12: Fourth Kingdom Swim (My First)

    by , July 8th, 2012 at 07:58 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Fair warning: long blog post to follow ...
    The mighty [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Memphremagog"]Lake Memphremagog[/ame] lived up to expectations as I splashed in for the Kingdom Swim this weekend. I made it to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont on Friday after a four hour drive from my home and took advantage of the early check-in before meeting up with my yaker and our families to head over to Prouty's Beach, where the swim begins and ends. We then headed down to our log cabin rental, which was one exit south on I-91 near Lake Willoughby, to check in before heading back to Newport for the Frontier Animal Society’s Pet and Swimmers Parade through the center of town and the Pasta Dinner, where we fueled up with lasagna, spaghetti, salad, and some chocolate cake. I met up with the two other Bennington area swimmers, Bethany (who swam last year and just got back from Ned Dennison's Cork, Ireland, swim camp) and Brent (my FISH buddy in Williamstown, who was also taking part in his first 10 mile swim) during the evening.

    The next morning saw overcast skies and some minor sprikles (as forecasted) as we hit the beach to unload our equipment. The area was well organized and the kayaks were placed according to the mileage on the east end of the beach with the starting chute on the the west. I met up with some other forumites, Kent from Arizona and Kevin from Maryland, before the race started. I was really bummed not to find Swimsuit Addict or Vivebene Safety is key for the event, and about five minutes before the 8am start numbers were called out for the swimmers that did not check in before entering the chute. Once everyone was accounted for, we lined up on the beach and waited for the mass start of 70+ swimmers into the 70 water to begin. I decided to be involved but not too engaged in the fray, so I splashed in towards the left of the pack as we headed out to the first buoy (S). I was able to weave towards the front and ended up sixth around the orange blob before settleing into an even stroke as we picked up yakers en route to Buoy 1. Let's introduce the course map at this point, as I'll be referring to it:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	KingdomCourses.jpg 
Views:	321 
Size:	85.7 KB 
ID:	6870

    The clouds held back the sun for my whole swim, although it brightened up between Buoys 2+3. My most excellent kayaker Bobby was right on top of navigation as well as feeding me every 30 minutes, all the while providing encouragement. Once I hit Bouy 3, the first long stretch was before us and the next buoy was out of sight. I wanted to get across the lake quickly so I alternated 20 strong swim cycles with 50 smooth ones, and soon we came to Buoy 4 through some mild waves (I was thinking if this is the worst, I am in good shape). I still had some energy left and asked the folks in the sherrif's boat which direction Prouty's Point was - got some laughs just withing sight of . Buoys 5+6 came quickly, and we noticed two things as we headed towards 6 - the chop was picking up with the wind and lots of swimmers ahead of us were shooting more towards eastern edge of Derby Bay (towards the "C" on the map) than Buoy 6. Bob kept me on a tight line to 6 due to the swells, and it felt like I was swimming perpendicular to it and not making much progress.

    The wind kept picking up and the skies darkened a bit on our way to 6b, to the extent that we both were thinking that the threat of a thunderstorm ending the swim might happen - thankfully it did not. On an encouraging note for me, we also started passing those ahead of us that didn't stay closer to the islands. Once near 6a, the support boat shouted that a lot of swimmers were being pushed hard into Derby Bay, so by staying tight to the islands we were avoiding the extra effort needed to get out to Buoy 7. Here is the part where I was really surprised - Bob for the first time mentioned the time, "It's quarter to 12." That means that I was ahead of the 4 hour mark with roughly 2.5 miles to go! That was huge motivation for me to refocus my stroke and mind on powering through the end of the race since it was miserable swimming conditions. It was great knowing that I was reeling in those ahead of me through the two foot waves that were pushing me down the course, instead of fighting through them.

    Between 7+8 I was able to catch two of the 6-mile swimmers, and at buoy 8 the support boat encouraged us that only 3/10ths of mile remained. Well, I am under the impression that it was longer than 3/10ths of a mile and maybe they added extra buoys in this lower part of the course because it took fifteen minutes to come in. I was alternating ten "breasterfly" strokes (breaststroke arms with dolphin kicks) and fifty freestyle strokes as my arms were fatigued and it felt really good to stretch out. I also swam backstroke at different points to help keep loose. Heading past the start buoy into the beach was tough, as the waves were moving heavily perpendicular to shore. About 20 yards out I was hitting bottom, so I took a brief moment before standing up to make sure my legs still worked, then scampered to the beach where my wife and son were waiting, and Bob's wife and son were taking pictures. We made it, with an unbelievable time of 4 hours, 37.07 seconds!

    I was offered a drink of water or gatorade, even warm chicken broth if needed, by the staff on the beach. They even passed sweatshirts out to help warm us up. It took about 20 minutes after finishing for me to be brave enough to sit down and the sun to make an appearance, so we headed over to the food tent were swimmer and yaker ate for free, and everyone else munched for only $5. I was thinking a cheeseburger would be great around Buoy 6a, and munched on one afterwards! Somewhere in this time I missed SA finish, and I checked out the time boards on the side of the building for the girls' numbers, but had no luck finding them. We did see the kid's swims (8/u-17 could choose 100yds, 1/4 and 1-mile) as well as the adult 1-mile. We stayed for the awards ceremony which was a great gathering for those getting awards, especially watching the little kids head up for their "Woodal" - a hand-carved wooden medallion.

    So my time was totally unexpected given the horrible head cold I had the past two week, since I trained a lot more before the 10K last year and was exhausted at the end of that. Having only swam three times I would have been elated to get in around the 5 hour mark. Maybe the break was needed? I think two things were key for me: having great sighting from the best wingman in the business, my buddy Bobby, and also the nutrition aspect, which came together from a lot of research on the marathonswim forums and other blogs by marathon swimmers. I used a maltodextrin-based feed, flavored with juice, on the bottom of each hour, and an electrolyte-based feed on the top of the hour. No backfires like the fruit cups I ended up loosing after the 10k - only some minor gas for a few minutes. I followed a suggestion of using a retractable dog leash hooked to my bottles, so I only had to swim to the yak for the feed. We strapped a crate to the back of the kayak, but the weight of the drinks would have left Bob doing wheelies, so we moved the drinks into the kayak, which was more accessible for him to refill bottles. I only had an extra dose of water once, and did not get into the gel shots or chocolate bar that were on board. To keep my mind from drifting like my body, I again reviewed the New Testament books of the Bible in order, and also spent a great deal of the swim praying. For me, being surrounded by God's Creation and having a lot of time on my hands makes for a great boost in my prayer life.

    I would highly recommend this swim to anyone that is looking to move above the marathon 10k swim distance, or even to come out for one of the lower distance courses as Memphremagog is a gorgeous lake, the swim is very well organized (they can arrange for a kayak and/or a kayaker for you if needed), and the activities surrounding the swim are great for adding to a family vacation. We had a blast walking down the main street during the parade and also watching the events unfold on the beach. We did not go out one of the two boat tours of the course, but was able to talk with folks who have swum the race in the past and use the maps to succesfully navigate the swim. Next year this will be the 9+ Mile USMS National Championship, a great draw to get more swimmers out to support that programs that are helped from this and other athletic events in the region. I am already looking to book the same cabin for a week next year, and my thoughts are also towards finding a longer swim to add to my list.

    Oh, I will get an album of pics up soon, but here is a picture of team "Can't Stop the Leake" (only my daughter was unable to make the trip):
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSC06294.jpg 
Views:	112 
Size:	179.8 KB 
ID:	6871

    Updated July 8th, 2012 at 11:22 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
  19. 06/02/12: Charles River Swim

    by , June 2nd, 2012 at 08:35 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Dear Charles River Swimmers, the water quality looks great and we have received permission to hold the race tomorrow. Water temperature is 73 degrees.
    I swam in the Charles River during the fourth one-mile event! Testing out that Dirty Water. Tomorrow we'll see if any strange skin conditions result!

    The race started at 8am this morning, and I decided that I did not want to drive three hours this morning so I stayed overnight in Leominster at a Motel 6 right off route 2. I figured that I had an hour more to travel this morning, so I left at 5 and arrived at the Alewife T station just before 6 to catch the Red Line to Charles/MGH. I got off the train and walked to the Espanade , getting to the registration tent around 6:40am. Oh, did I mention that it was raining? Yep - steady drizzle with some stronger showers the whole morning.

    I checked in and decided to repack my bag before checking it after getting marked up. I took off my sweats and put them into a plastic bag with, keeping only my warmup pants and jacket (and wet shoes) on. By 7:30, I was feeling cold as the wind picked up a bit, shivering and the like. At 7:45 we had our pre-race meeting, and I stripped down to my suit - the field was split roughly in half with folks wearing wetsuits and not, with me not wearing one. I donned my yellow cap marked "3" and headed to the dock with my fellow racers as the gray sky hung low above the skyline to this glorious city.


    "No diving into the water because we don't know what's in there - we don't want anyone landing headfirst into a shopping cart."
    We all hopped in after being warned and enjoyed the warm water, although viability was not much farther than arms reach in the murky greenish water. After treading water at the start buoy for about a minute, the race was started as we took off west towards the Harvard (Mass Ave) Bridge. I noticed that my shoulders were tight, likely from not doing enough kinetic stretches before the event. After rounding the first buoy towards the Cambridge side of the river, we entered into the roughest chop on the course, powered by a steady wind coming out from the city center. The second buoy came much quicker, and after rounding that we made our way on towards the Longfellow Bridge. Here is where the taste of oil and gas entered into my senses, and I flipped over and swam backstroke for about twenty cycles. I was able to increase my stroke rate and catch a small group off the lead after the last buoy, and motored to the finish line.

    I am pleased with how I sighted the race, having only to make two major corrections throughout. I lift my head for a quick sight and rotate my head into a breath, usually every five or six arm cycles, until I get closer to a buoy. One of the things I love about OW swims the ability to watch as a mass of swimmers enters the water, and then take a peak during the race and see arms stroking just above the water. I didn't notice the water falling during the race, but the precipitation never let up. Maybe all of that acid rain helped to counterbalance the river water?

    After the race I made my way back to the tents and sampled some of the vendor's treats before getting some coffee and bagel. Due to the rain there were very few spectators and the swimmers just packed up and headed out shortly after finishing. I walked back to the T with my wet warmups and dried off before going up to the station's platform, as my repacking kept my dry clothes mostly dry. I met some other swimmers (not too many other folks walking around with numbers on their skins) on the train back to the station, and we talked of the swim and our need for a very thorough shower! They laughed as the Harvard stop went by, opting out of joining the master's group there for their Saturday morning practice. I got off at Alewife and took the long, raining ride home.

    So, how did I do? Not sure yet! I forgot my watch, and at the finish only our race numbers were shouted out to the timers. I checked with some of the folks I finished near, but they were fine with just getting to the end point. Once I get the info, I'll update this entry. As for now, I am happy that the event went off and I was able to take the plunge into the murky, I mean, mighty Charles. I would recommend this swim, as it was safe, well organized, and you can join me in 'going where humans should not go' (according to a friend).

    *** Addendum: Results for the swim are up, and I finished in 23min 56sec. If you have the facebook you should be able to see my picture album here (nothing too exciting). ***

    Just a friendly reminder to turn on your lights while driving in the rain for everyone's safety. Oh, let the little ducklings cross the road, too (I did this twice).

    Updated June 11th, 2012 at 11:10 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
  20. Monumental Masters Mini Meet

    by , April 28th, 2012 at 10:34 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    So today we had our first ever mini meet in my my home pool. It served as a fundraiser for the local age group team, and essentially I just leaned on them for running the meet. We had to wait about 15 minutes to get into the building (they normally open at 9am, and you know how it goes when you ask someone to change their routine ...), but I had already put the lane lines in last night with my son so just some minor tasks to get the show moving.

    We ended up with 23 swimmers, so I was really excited about that. At least half came from out of town, many first timers, and despite the warm pool (83) everyone seemed to have a good time. I made the opening announcements and took over the mic a few times to help slow the meet down, and we ended up finishing up in about 1.5 hours. Dedicated the meet to my mom, who passed away in 1995 but was so important in not only helping to get all of us kids to swim competetivly, but also to promote the sport throughtout Vermont.

    I ended up swimming a little more than I wanted to, but I did not want anyone to swim alone. It's all good with:

    200 Medley Relay*: Fly
    100 Fly: 59.23
    100 Back: 1:06.xx
    400 IM: 5:04.xx + 100 swim = 500
    25 Monument Kick Sprint: dfl (by choice)
    200 Free Relay*: Swam 1st and 4th leg

    * Swam these with my brother Jeff, who has not been in the water in over 10 years but came to swim. He looked like he never took a break from swimming (he is a biker: cyclocross, so I have to do a race with him this fall ).

    My goals were to swim the 100 Fly and 400 IM to complete the checkoff challange (save the super-long distances). I was a little tired from the relay, but happy to go under 1:00 in the 100 fly. The last 25 hurt pretty bad. I just cruised the backstroke, working on underwaters (skd'd 10/10/6/5) as a loosen before the next event.

    I was really happy with the 400 IM, my first ever time racing this event , and I did not leave a whole left in the tank at the end. Thinking about my practice swims, it was really close to the add-up from one of PWB's sets in February, and my splits were:
    29.46, 37.57 (1:07.03)
    38.22, 38.47 (1:16.69)
    46.86, 48.14 (1:35.00)
    31.49, 34.08 (1:05.57)
    I either took out the first 50 fly too fast (but it felt easy) or loafed the second 50 too much, and was a bit too slow on the backstroke leg. Still need to work on beaststroke, but my calves were really tight so I'll take the time. I hoped to get under 5 minutes, but now I have motivation to swim this event again.

    Had a great time getting this meet going, and people in my neck of the woods liked the idea of driving less than 2-3 hours to swim. GregJS had some fast swims (blazed the 100 breast ), and I talked about the upcoming Kingdom 10mile swim with Brent and Bethany, who are also doing it. We had first time swimmers from our Masters club, like Kevin, Rich and Cindy (who did an awesome 50 back), and Robert and Sharon (both swim for fitness, but like my brother were convinced to race due to my pestering).

    Thanks to all of you on the intertubes for your support and encouragement as well, especially SwimShark. Total: 1975 yards. Came home and watched Chris and Tom do the 200 back, then Speedo and Jazz + others in the 50 free online before taking a nap.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG0749.jpg 
Views:	100 
Size:	194.3 KB 
ID:	6821

    Updated May 4th, 2012 at 02:06 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast