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  1. Weekend swims... search for lakes/kayak

    by , April 23rd, 2012 at 11:53 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Haven't had a chance to blog in a while, but have managed to get my swims in over the last few days: Saturday's was a 7000-yarder; 4 miles of more or less continuous swimming (took a bathroom break at 4K), which took about 2:07.00. I was doing a kilometer every 19 minutes for the first hour or so, but then dropped off pretty steadily after that. Have I mentioned how tired I am of doing these long swims trapped in an SCY box? Anyone swimming in the lakes in southern Wisconsin or North-east Illinois yet? I'm looking for spots that might allow swimmers before the "official" opening of many of the open water venues (Memorial Day weekend).

    Sunday I did another two miles (3500 SCY); a pretty relaxed, recovery swim... well, actually it was more "slow" than "relaxed"; but it was a recovery swim.

    Today I got in during the lunch hour and to give my usual free-style muscles a break I did a lot of kick drill and other strokes (which slows me down quite a bit because I just don't practice breast and back often enough). 3000 SCY: first 1000 warm-up and kick drills, next 1000 alternating breast and back 100s, last 1000 alternating free and pull 100s.

    I'm just a hair short of 180 miles on the year now. This week I'm going to do one really tough workout (probably threshold 200s and "sprint" 50s) and then do a lot of recovery yards, experimenting with different paces, working on form. I hope to get in 12K this coming weekend for a long swim... maybe hit the garage sales looking for a deal on a kayak for my boys to follow me around in! (I keep offering this duty to my wife, but she seems *yawn* unimpressed by the possibility... even though I would totally kayak for her... you know, if she actually swam).
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  2. New GTD goal...

    by , April 19th, 2012 at 02:37 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Did 4000 today, 2000 yesterday; things are going pretty good right now. So, I decided to adjust my GTD goal upwards: 500 miles.

    Last year I did just over 330 if I remember correctly, but that was mostly May through December. My goal for 2012 had been 417 miles, which was like 2000 yards a day (maybe 2200, I'm not sure now), I was already more than 40% there and 50 miles ahead of pace. Now I'm at 33% of my yearly goal again; still about 20 miles ahead of goal pace.

    And, as if to punctuate the decision, my new 50-mile GTD cap was in the mail when I got home today. Pretty cool, though I still hate wearing caps.

    Backstroke felt a little better today too; just have to keep sprinkling that into the work outs.
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  3. 4000 more... how much is enough?

    by , April 16th, 2012 at 05:50 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Had a little bit of extra time today at lunch, so I decided to stretch my swim a bit, work on backstroke, which I don't normally do (I figure I've just got to commit to it).

    4000 SCY in 1:20.00

    1000 in kick sets (see last monday's wk-out)
    1000 alternating pull and free 100s
    1000 breast and back (100 breast / 50 back)
    5 x 100 on 1:45 (these were all around 1:33-1:35)
    500 in BASE + 5 pace (1:45/100)

    I felt really slow on my 100s at the end of the workout, tired; but the 500 at 1:45/100 pace felt pretty good... that's a pace I couldn't maintain for as long as I wanted on Saturday, though I kept it going for 6K on my way to 10K the week before. That's a confidence builder after two miles in the pool.

    I've been reading through some of the marathon swimming webs and looking at what folks are saying about "appropriate" amount of yardage per week leading up to a big open water swim. I feel like I'm on target with my long continuous swim on the weekend (though being in the pool still at this point is driving me nuts)... I need a good lake venue; Lake Michigan is out of the question right now (no wetsuit), but a lot of the smaller in-land lakes have "no swimming" ordinances except in designated swim areas (which won't open up until Memorial Day!). This is a huge drag!

    Anyway, my weekly long swim slowly increases, but my weekly total yardage swings dramatically because of my hectic schedule right now (In the last month I'm swinging between 9 and 15 miles per week). I feel like my downfall is not having a set routine during the week and so if it gets late and I decide to blow off a day it doesn't seem like a big deal... mentally I've anchored my "program" with the weekly long swim. As long as I don't miss that (I tell myself), I'm ok. But, I'm starting to feel like that's not enough. I want to do the 9-mile+ USMS-OW swim in Minnesota this July (it's a 10-mile course), but wonder if I'll be prepared.
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  4. 10,000 yards yesterday

    by , April 15th, 2012 at 09:27 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I got in and loosened up with a 27.5-minute swim (I only had half an hour in my schedule): 1500 SCY. Last Sunday I didn't get back in to loosen up after swimming 10-K on Saturday... and I think it makes a difference in recovery. I felt pretty sluggish all week. We'll see if this week's workouts are any crisper.

    Yesterday I did 10,000 yards in 3:15.00. I didn't feel all that great, but just kept churning away. I convinced myself I was just going to do 6K earlier in the day and when I got there I thought, "eh, 9K is just one more hour in the water... why not?"; I got to 9K and it seemed silly not to do an extra 100 to round it up to 10,000 yards.

    With Open Water season approaching and a couple of the USMS championships within driving distance (5K in Indiana; 10-mile in Minnesota), I'm trying to build some mental toughness on these long swims in the pool... it's not the same as open water (it's a little claustrophobic at this point), but my body and mind are getting used to being in the water for 3+ hours. And, now, 5K seems really short. So this is all good for confidence. Nonetheless, I can't wait to get into the lakes.
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  5. 3400 yards

    by , April 10th, 2012 at 11:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I found my legs to be really tight and sore, which kept me from finding my "sprint" speed on the 50s. Looking back over my FLOG, yesterday's long kick sets were the first I had done in a while, so it shouldn't be a surprise. I wasn't aware of that going in, but figured it out about the time I hit my breast stroke. In my cool down, my legs were sinking big-time, a problem I never have, which means my core was probably starting to feel the effects of tired legs too!

    3400 SCY in 68 minutes:

    500 free warm-up (9:00)
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (mostly :42)
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (first 8 in 1:28-1:29; last 2 in 1:30)
    500 breast in 10:00
    300 EZ free
    100 side-kick drill series
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  6. 10K aftermath...

    by , April 9th, 2012 at 05:27 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, apart from feeling really tired and run down yesterday I didn't have any ill side effects or unexpected soreness (just the expected kind), which is good. When I was primarily a runner I would work up to 3- or 3.5-hour long runs before a marathon and can remember limping for most of the rest of the day, sometimes the day after as well. Not so with swimming (so far!)... it is an equivalent level of exertion I think, but it's a lot easier on the joints.

    Following Slow's advice, I was trying to listen to my body, see what it might be telling me... and I think my shoulders/upper back would appreciate it if I engaged my core a little more. When I was purposely thinking about swimming from my hips and not my shoulders I noticed my rhythm was much better during the 10K; my kick was more productive among other things. But all and all, I didn't feel much more sore in my shoulders than I did after 8K or 9K back in March... so the concept of gradual progression is working to help avoid the over-use injuries (so far!).

    Today I got in and did 3000 in a pretty relaxed fashion. First 1000 was mostly kick:
    100 free
    100 free w/ fins
    100 kick w/ fins and board
    100 sidekick w/ fins (12 kicks/stroke)
    50 kick w/ fins and board
    100 sidekick w/ fins (6 kicks/stroke)
    50 kick w/ fins and board
    100 sidekick w/ fins (6 kicks + 3 strokes)
    50 kick w/ fins and board
    100 back kick w/ fins
    50 kick w/ fins and board
    100 free with fins

    The next 1000 I alternated 100 free w/ 100 pull. No rests in all of this. For the last 1000 I decided to pick up the pace a bit:
    4 x 100 on 1:45
    rest 1:30
    2 x 200 (about 3:00 each; 1:30 rest after each)
    200 breast cooldown

    The rests were for some chat time with a swimmer who is moving out of the area this week; who knows when our paths will cross again. Haydn, an Australian emigre who's only been in Kenosha for a few months, is moving on to Newport, RI, with his wife. I suspect he'll find the Y there. He mentioned that I had inspired him to do some open water swimming as well. So maybe you guys in the Northeast will see him this summer!
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  7. 10K (11000 SCY)... oh, the humanity!

    by , April 7th, 2012 at 08:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Can't believe I swam the whole thing!

    ...especially since I wasn't feeling particularly good yesterday when I swam only 3K. That experience and the realization that I was going to have to turn around and swim 10K today if I was going to get it in at all this weekend (tomorrow is Easter!) had me dosing myself with ibuprofen, joint juice, vitamins, anything I thought my body might be missing to make me feel better last night.

    This morning I had my bagel with peanut-butter, a couple of cups of coffee, then two packets of instant oatmeal, and headed out the door with 24 ounces of pretty strongly mixed gatorade. I got in the pool just after noon. Such a beautiful day outside, there weren't many folks at the Y (I never had to share a lane all afternoon). I decided to wear my USMS Open Water Championship (2.4-mile) cap from last year as added encouragement. And what a fashion statement that lime-green color makes! At some point in the locker room I remembered that this swim would put me over 150 miles for the year; when I swam that OW 2.4-miler in Madison, WI last August I had just barely gotten to 150 miles on the year... hard to believe!

    The swim started slowly and I had my doubts in the first 2-3K, but I found a rhythm between 3-4K and was able to keep it going through 6K. I finished that first 6K in my fastest time (a little under 1:58:00) swimming the Freestyle portions in 1:45/100 pace, being careful not to overdo it. I mixed in 100 breast every kilometer. After finishing the first 6K non-stop I jumped out quickly to go to the bathroom and then got back in at just over the two-hour mark.

    The final 4K was pretty torturous. I finished the 7th K and thought to myself "I still have 3K to go?!"--not what you want to be telling yourself when the fatigue starts to sink in. 8th K: a slog fest, this kilometer took me the longest of all of them (I did stop to chat with another swimmer I know from work also, losing a couple of minutes, but this wasn't going to be my fastest K of the day anyway). 9K went by a little faster because I think I kept telling myself "yeah, if you're not feeling it you can get out at 10,000 yards instead of 11,000; that's only 100 more once you finish this K."

    I got to 10,000 yards and ran out of gatorade; but I kept going. I alternated gliding 100s with normal 100s (my "front crawl" definitely had the emphasis on "crawl"; I tried backstroke for one 50; I did 175 breast, and then the final 25 elementary backstroke while balancing my water bottle with my teeth, waiting for those last precious drops to make their way down.

    My lats were burning with every stroke in that last 1000, but I did it! 10K; 11,000 yards; 6.2 miles... it took me 3:35:00 total time (about 3:30:00 of actual swim time). I'll sleep well tonight!
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  8. T-TH swims

    by , April 6th, 2012 at 11:26 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Little time to swim this week and seemingly less time to blog, but I wanted to get down in writing a couple of workouts before I forget.

    Tuesday: 3K in about an hour; I was still very stiff and sore, even after going only 1500 on Monday. I was racing a bit to finish up before they closed the Y, so it didn't seem like a very satisfying swim. the 1000 in the middle I did as a 10 x 100 on 2:00 set. These were all coming in at 1:31 and even a couple in the 1:34 range late in the set. I felt like I was getting stiffer and more sore as the set wore on. The last 1000 free I did continuously and was able to build some rhythm... again, I'm just surprised at how slow I've felt for several days now.

    Thursday: 2K in 40 minutes. Soreness gone, this workout felt much better. I did 2000 free at a 1:45/100 pace; stopped for a minute and finished with 4 x 50 on 1:00. Pace was much faster (:38, :40, :40, :40) but felt relaxed, not strained.

    Hopefully I have time to get in at least a couple thousand yards today; two miles would be optimal!
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  9. Ugh...

    by , April 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    It's been a while since I've had a chance to write. I missed 4 days last week... ugh! But I was ok with it because I had been putting in so many yards the previous two weeks. Yesterday I got in for a 6K swim (my first swim since Wednesday) and felt really good until about 4K; I did 3450 in one hour and was cruising pretty good, but I think I was cruising too good. I finished the final 2K in just over 40 minutes with a couple of interruptions.

    Today I swam only 1500; I had half an hour this evening and I thought "better half an hour than nothing at all." It was a sore, stiff swim. Apparently, my swim yesterday was a little too ambitious in that first 4K, and my arms, shoulders, and back were feeling it.

    Hopefully tomorrow will feel like normal again. On the up-side, GTD still has me hanging in at #15 in age group with over 140 miles this year so far. My mileage is there, I just need to make sure I get in some quality yardage on a more regular basis and don't spend all of my time alternating between the extremes of long, continuous swims and short, slow recovery swims.
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  10. Zombie 3K

    by , March 29th, 2012 at 12:52 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I did 3K (3300 SCY) in exactly 60 minutes today, but I felt very stiff after missing yesterday's swim. I think my body is starting to feel the yardage after building for two weeks straight; my heart rate was up around 50 two mornings in a row. Just another reminder that I need to scale it back and spend the week recovering...

    My long swims the last two weekends have been up over 9000 yards, so this weekend I think I'll do an "easy" 6K; then come back in a week and a half to try to get to 10K on my long swim.

    I had planned to do a few quality threshold workouts this week, but am thinking, based on how zombie-like this evening's swim felt, that maybe I should do a little speed, some kick sets, some recovery yardage (garbagio!). Next week will be back to normal... making strides again, but I have to remember these cycles are natural and not try to push it too much (there's a fine line between pushing hard and over-training; a line I've crossed once too many times).
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  11. 9k gives me the munchies!

    by , March 27th, 2012 at 12:29 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I managed to squeeze in a quick swim before the Y closed. Didn't feel all that good after yesterday's long swim...

    2000 in about 36:45; this is a pace that I have decided to call my "trying-not-to-cramp-up-and-drown-but-still-get-in-2000-yards-before-they-kick-me-out-of-the-pool" pace.

    And I didn't bother weighing myself after such a short swim; not after I've spent the last 36 hours trying to replace in triple every calorie I burned on the 9k. Never go grocery shopping after a long swim!
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  12. 9K

    by , March 25th, 2012 at 04:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow, I'm exhausted. Finished my 9K continuous swim in 3 hours, 3 minutes, 25 seconds.

    My first 5-6K was right at about 1:45/100 pace; but that last hour or so was really killer. Slowed a lot. My last three kilometers averaged about 21 minutes each and my lats felt like they were turning to stone.

    Mentally I broke it up into 1K segments as I usually do (it's much easier to think about just finishing the next kilometer--or next 100--than to think, ok, only 5K to go!), but my first 6K were especially crisp, the 1000s coming right in at 17:30, followed by a relaxed 100 (usually about 1:50). At 5K I jumped out to go to the bathroom, little more than a minute break. The 1:45/100 pace started to fall apart right after 6k; I also switched over to breast stroke for my easy 100s between 1000s in that last 3k... trying to give my body short breaks from freestyle.

    If my backstroke weren't so pitiful I might try that stroke for my breaks. As it is, I did my final 25 yards one-armed elementary backstroke while nursing the final drops out of my gatorade bottle.

    Time... [yawn] for a... [yawn] na... [yawn] ah... [yawn] p.

    Updated March 25th, 2012 at 07:16 PM by mcnair

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  13. A couple more swims...

    by , March 25th, 2012 at 11:31 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Haven't blogged yet about my Friday and Saturday swims.

    Yesterday I did two miles (3500 SCY) continuously; with the exception of 100 breast at the end of each 1000, the whole swim was on my BASE+5 pace and took 62 minutes. I'd like to be able to maintain that for 3 hours today.

    Friday's swim was pretty simple:
    30 x 100 on 2:00.

    I wanted to see if I really could keep that BASE-10 pace going forever with a longer rest. The first ten or so reps were around 1:30-1:33 as I was warming up. Then my next ten were in the 1:22-1:28 range, with about half of them in the 1:22-1:24 range (another swimmer, Haydn, joined me for 4-5 of these and that encouraged me to pick up the pace). The last ten were 1:28-1:34, mostly in the 1:31-32 range as I relaxed and tried to cool down.

    Alright, big swim this morning... I'm trying to hit 9K, will leave for the Y in a few.
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  14. Quickie...

    by , March 22nd, 2012 at 09:28 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Only time for a quick swim today. I had less than a half hour, so I just swam what I could... ended up with 1500 straight free in 25:20 before hitting the showers.

    At least I didn't miss a day completely!

    Celebrating my wife's birthday today... She's spent more than half of her life now putting up with me; God bless her!
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  15. 4500 SCY, pushing the lactate threshold

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 11:10 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    4500 SCY today:

    500 free warm-up (8:30)
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (first 6 in :40-:42, next 10 in :38-:39, last 4 backed off the throttle to :42)
    1:00 rest
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:34, 4:42, 4:38*)
    100 breast recovery
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:40, 4:52; 5:00)
    100 breast recovery
    1000 Free at BASE + 5 (1:45/100) pace.

    *I actually did this last 300 of the first set after an extra minute rest--I was talking (btwn deep breaths) with a swimmer in the next lane, who volunteered to swim this last 300 with me.

    The last 1000 felt surprisingly good, but the 300s were painful; obviously BASE+5 feels a lot better than BASE-5 or BASE-10 for anything over a couple hundred yards... at least today.

    Total time: 1:23:30.
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  16. 3K yesterday... Whitman's ghost.

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, I did a nice 3K continuous swim yesterday in 59 minutes. Felt surprisingly good, even after the 9000 yards the day before.

    Today I got to the end of the day and had a choice... rest or head back out to the YMCA and get in a hurried workout before closing time. I was hovering between the laptop (on a card table that serves as my desk in the bedroom) and the 15-year old, 13" portable TV on the dresser around which a stack of books has taken up residence (they don't all fit on the card table). Anything good on TV? No, not really.

    Then Walt Whitman's ghost appeared...

    Well, not really; just the old paperback of Leaves of Grass that had migrated up from the bookshelf in the den up to a place on the dresser, prepared (with Emerson, Homer, Virgil, and Dante) for conjuration on a moment's notice. Dog-eared pages called out to me... dare I ignore them? Dare I attend the voice of the dead poet? Allen Ginsberg asked where the poet Whitman was taking him that night as they walked from the supermarket. I'm taking uncle Walt back down to the den for a vacation on the bookshelf (probably won't be too long of a vacation, but you never know where the readings will lead).

    Whitman goes back to the bookshelf, I've missed my daily swim because I dove into a book and spoke with a ghost. He should haunt us all with his expansiveness. Now I don't need the book to feel him there (witness the end of "Song of Myself"):

    "I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
    I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lazy jags.

    I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
    If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

    You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
    But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
    And filter and fibre your blood.

    Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
    Missing me one place search another,
    I stop somewhere waiting for you."

    Click image for larger version. 

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  17. 9000-yard swim today...

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 12:26 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    The plan was to do 8K (8800 SCY) today... my swim last Sunday (my step-back week) was 6K and the week before I had done 8000. I got to thinking about it, though, and decided I should shoot for 9000--a nice round number. I remembered that 8K was not quite 5 miles (it's like 4.95) and I wanted to shoot for a milestone I hadn't hit yet: 5 miles, that's a long swim!

    I broke the swim into 1K segments again (1000 free, 100 breast) and swam continuously except for brief bathroom breaks at 3300 and 6600 (these were about 1.5 minutes a piece). Stopped briefly to say goodbye to another swimmer at around 8000 (don't want folks to think I'm too rude just because I never stop long enough to chat).

    I mixed the gatorade pretty strong today, knowing that hydration wouldn't be as much of an issue as the lack of carbs to burn in the later stages. I finished off the last of my 20-ounce bottle at 8800 exactly. I was fueling with a swig every twenty minutes (or every kilometer, which is about the distance I do in twenty minutes on these long swims). I swam another 200 free-style to round out my 5-miler!

    After shower I refueled with another 20 ounces of gatorade (regular strength) and made the slow walk out to the car. I'm pretty tired now... time for a nap!

    Total time: 2 hours, 51 minutes.

    Updated March 19th, 2012 at 09:22 PM by mcnair (number dyslexia)

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  18. St. Patrick's Day 2-milers...

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 01:30 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I walked two miles and swam two miles today... what glorious weather (sunny and seventies)! I only wish we had an LCM pool outside right now. The SCY box at the YMCA today--even though we have these beautiful windows that let the sunlight in--seemed confining with so much good weather outside.

    The two-mile swim was continuous and fairly relaxed. I'm gearing up for a long swim tomorrow and I did some faster work yesterday, so today had to get me in the mindset without wearing me out too much. I broke up the swim mentally into 20-minute/1K segments (1000 free, 100 breast... as usual for me); finished 3K in about 59 minutes and then swam an easy 200 to complete the two miles.

    I'm hoping to do 8K tomorrow morning, so tonight I celebrated St. Patrick's Day by carbo-loading with Mexican food!
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  19. Early summer in WI!

    by , March 16th, 2012 at 07:41 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    3200 SCY today (after a terrific afternoon walk... temps are supposed to reach 70s for the next five days... unseasonably warm, but maybe the lakes will be swimmable sooner).

    10 x 100 on 2:00 for a warm-up (mostly coming in at 1:32-1:34)
    1 minute rest
    20 x 100 on 1:45 (first 12 or so were 1:29 or faster)
    100 breast
    100 EZ free for cool-down.

    Finished the whole workout in exactly one hour. It took a while to warm-up and work the kinks out. Yesterday I took advantage of the good weather and played some basketball in the driveway with my youngest, but that kind of exercise, after not having done it in a few weeks, always seems to make me really sore and throw things off kilter the following day. I probably need to start a yoga class or something.
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  20. GTD update; 3500 more...

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 11:56 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I took a peek at GTD rankings and found myself back in the top 20 (number 19) for my age group. This in spite of all the days I've missed in the last couple of weeks. Cool.

    Today's two-miler, which put me over 110 miles on the year, included an 1100-yard warm-up working mostly on kick; after that and a minute-long break I swam the rest continuously.

    Warm-up (1100):
    100 EZ Free
    100 Free w/ fins
    400 Kick set w/ fins; 4 x 100 (alt. 50 board w/ 50 kick 12, Kick 6, Kick 6+3, back kick)
    100 Free w/ fins
    100 Free
    200 Pull
    100 Breast

    Main (2200):
    1000 Free (10 x 50 fast/50 EZ)
    100 Breast
    1000 Free (5 x 100 EZ/100 fast)
    100 Breast

    Cool-down (200):
    100 Kick series (25 ea.= side-kick 12, 6, 6+3, back)
    100 EZ Free

    Warm weather in March is extremely encouraging--our thermometer reads 69 at 9:53PM! We usually don't get weather like this until April, sometimes May.
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