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This morning I swam at Riverbank with Rondi. Yesterday’s snow turned to a wintry mix overnight here, and the footing on the pedestrian bridge leading into the park and in the park itself was a little dicey. The city is very aggressive about salting, but to get to the pool you have to leave city property and walk through what is technically state park land (actually not really land, but landscaped terrain built over the sewage treatment plant, which was built over the river). You can definitely tell where the boundary is.
I was pretty sore and tired this morning. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)
4 x magic 600:
First one was actually a magic 700, because I miscounted, so FR/BK in a 1-1-2-1-3-1-4-1 patternSecond one was a backwards magic 700 minus 100, alternating FR and BK in a 2-1-3-1-2-1-1-1 (lengths) patternNumbers 3 and 4 were magic 600s, alternating FR and BK in a 1-1/2-1/1-1/2-1/1-1 (lengths) pattern
[I invented the magic 600s today, and liked them because they give me an extra backstroke length vs dropping a 100 from the magic 7s.I experimented with left-side breathing and 4- and 6-beat kicking on the freestyle lengths, and just doing 100 at a time made that seem manageable.]
6 x 100 IM @ 2:00, desc. 1-3 [1:50, 1:45, 1:40, 1:51, 1:45, 1:41]
200 IM kick
300 warmdown + play
This morning I enjoyed a glorious cold swim at Brighton Beach. The day was not that promising—clouded over and grey, breezy, with drizzle threatening—and did I mention cold? Thirty-degree air and 44-degree water definitely met Evmo’s combined-100-and-under criterion for cold swims. Getting ready on the beach was a challenge—earplugs were cold going in, caps were cold, fingers got chilled with all the preparation. But once I was in and stroking—no dawdling today!—the sensation of being surrounded by water felt simply magnificent. I swam to the big jetty to the west and back (a bit over 1k) with Cristian, Melissa, and Brad. I was tempted to go further, but was nervous about rewarming in the cold, so got back out when we got back to our starting point.
After dressing on the beach I elected to go rewarm in the car. Generally I like warming from the inside out, relying on jogging or exercising on the beach post-swim to make enough body heat to get my temp back up to normal. That usually works well, but with the wind and temp today and with my feet painfully cold I worried it would prove challenging to keep from losing heat faster than I could generate it. I was lucky to have swimmates willing to share their car heaters with me, so I opted for that method. I shivered for a bit, and had to take off some of the clothes I had put on so that the warm air could reach me, but eventually I warmed back up. A massage afterwards rubbed away some of the shivering tightness, and I basked in the warmth of the subway car on the ride home, grateful for another wonderful morning spent with the ocean and my ocean-loving friends.
That was the sublime. This afternoon was the ridiculous. There was a fun meet scheduled at Asphalt Green that I had contemplated swimming, but I ultimately decided against it, in part because my LMSC has devolved to such disarray this year, and I didn’t want to spend time among people who were sure to want to talk to me about the situation. (If I were gung ho about my pool swimming I wouldn’t have let that stop me, but as someone on the fence about competing the infighting is tempering my enthusiasm for participating in masters events in my area.) As it turned out, though, there was a members-wide vote on new bylaws scheduled to take place during the meet, and two of the groups I swim with were urging their members to come out and vote. So in the end I felt obliged to stop by the anyway.
When I arrived at Asphalt Green, there was a group of people outside arguing—some were handing out leaflets, others were trying to stop them, and our LMSC chair was ordering confused newcomers to go inside. I stopped and took a leaflet from a friend urging me to vote no, then was scarcely inside the door before another swimmer friend stopped me and told me to vote yes. When I got the ballot, I discovered that in addition to the bylaws, the membership was also being asked to vote on minutes from the last two meetings, because there has been too much contentiousness among the board to even get minutes approved. (I was not completely surprised by this, as I had been to part of the general membership meeting, and was appalled at how uncivil and ugly it was—I left halfway through). Before I left Asphalt Green today I heard from several people that the police had been called to stop swimmers from handing out fliers—I’m not sure if that was true, but in any case I imagine that the NYPD has more pressing matters to attend to than Masters swimming infighting. Ugh—I have no stomach for conflict, and wish that I could simply switch from Metro to a less dysfunctional LMSC. If anyone is reading this whose LMSC works well consider yourself fortunate, and consider thanking your board members (or give yourself a pat on the back if you are one).
This situation has definitely made me grateful for the groups I swim with that do run efficiently and where people tend to get along and appreciate each other. So to end on a happier note I will write about the Team New York workout I attended yesterday. We have occasional “ladies only” workouts to bring the women from the team together from our various workout locales. Yesterday’s was also one of two free holiday workouts the team is giving their members, and it was held at John Jay and coached by David. It was nice to reunite with teammates I hadn’t seen in a while, and I enjoyed having Hannah and Elisabeth as lanemates for the following:
600 scy warmup, various
200 (50 scull + 150 FR) @ 4:00, odds w/buoy, evens w/out
4 x 50 (k/d) @ 1:05, IM order by round
250 (100 FR moderate + 50 K fast + 100 IM moderate) @ 4:15
3 x 50, desc. @ :55 (1st round FR, 2nd round BK) [30, 34 on fasts]
4 x 25 @ :40, odds ez, evens dps
4 x 75 FR with no-wall turns [on these, my lane took turns leading on the first three, then synchro-swam the last one three abreast—fun!]
And our coach brought us cookies for after!
Updated December 8th, 2013 at 09:30 PM by swimsuit addict
This morning I enjoyed a birthday swim at Riverbank with Rondi and Hannah. We wore our fancy swim caps to celebrate my 48th, as follows:
1100 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s by 25, 100 fr)
48 x 50 @ last-person-in intervals:
multiples of 3 = breaststroke
multiples of 4 = backstroke
multiples of 7 = fly
(strokes earlier in IM trump those later in IM)
primes = kick for 1-24, drill for 25-48
9 x 100 fr/bk @ 2:00, desc. by 3s [this was a set of 12, but I made my get-out time (<1:30) on the 9th so opted to skip the last 3 and do a longer warmdown]
400 SKPS warmdown + play
That was it! I felt lucky to start out the day surrounded by water and friends and mathiness.
Last night I enjoyed swimming the evening JJC workout with TNYA. BJ and Matt were on deck, and I had 3 good lanemates for the following:
800 scy warmup, varied
16 x 25 @ 30ish, S/K/D/S IM order
2 x (75 kick with board + 25 fast kick on stomach w/o board + 25 swim) @ 2:15
2 x (50 kick with board + 25 fast kick on stomach w/o board + 25 swim) @ 1:55
2 x (25 kick with board + 25 fast kick on stomach w/o board + 25 swim) @ 1:35
8 x 25 fly drill (one-arm fly breathing forward and not rotating body)
6 x 25 fly drill (same)
4 x 150 pull w/o paddles @ 2:15, holding low stroke count [14s/25]
12 x 50 @ 1:00, done as 3 x (3 ez CH 1 sprint FL) [34/35]
This morning I had a good workout at Riverbank. I started out very tight and tired (my age group swim coach claims that when he first met me my southern accent was such that he couldn’t distinguish between my pronunciation of those two words). It took about 2000 to start to feel loose and good, but eventually I did, and by the end I was enjoying swimming enough I would have stayed longer if they didn’t throw us out at 8:30. I shared a lane with Rondi and John but did my own thing as they did a long freestyle set that was (1) too fast (2) too long and (3) too freestyle for me today. Here’s how my workout went:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s by 25)
12 x 150:
First four = FR/ST/FR, IM order @ 2:45
Middles four = ST/FR/ST, IM order @ 3:00
Last four = all stroke IM order @ 3:00
(rest/stretching as desired between each set of four)
200 IM for time [3:23]
4 x 200: odds = FR pull w/paddles, 2 = swim FR/BK by 50, 4 = IM kick
6 x 100 FR/BK halfsies @ 2:00, desc 1-3 and 4-6 [1:48, 1:43, 1:35, 1:55, 1:45, 1:31]
200 warmdown + play
That was it! I left feeling much better than when I started.
I didn’t blog much Thanksgiving week, but I did swim. Here are the highlights:
Thursday: easy swim at the Y; could hear the Thanksgiving parade going down Central Park West from the locker room
Friday: blissy rest day
Saturday: attempted a lcm set of 10 x (200 @ 3:05, 150 @ 3:05) but gave up after just 6 rounds when the crowded lane plus the fatigue made going on tight intervals too frustrating. This was more tiring than it seems like it should be--I might revisit it when I'm in Florida.
Sunday: swam a mile at Brighton Beach (water and air temp both 45). Swimming hard in the cold plus shivering afterwards maybe accounts for the sore muscles this morning.
Last night I swam the evening TNYA workout at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. This pool was added to our team’s rotation a few weeks ago after the closure of the City College pool cancelled our workouts there. It’s a nice 6-lane 25yd facility, a little on the warm side last night. The best thing about it is that since it’s new and a bit out of the way, practices are uncrowded. Last night I enjoyed swimming with just two lanemates, and we got to go 10 seconds apart! I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that in a NYC masters workout. For someone who likes space around them when they swim, it was heaven. Scott was on deck, and here’s what I did:
750 scy warmup (various)
8 x 50 @ :55, odds d/s IM order, evens FR shoulder touch drill
300 pull @ some rest-allowing interval
3 x 150 desc. @ 2:35 [I did FR/BK/FR]
2 x 100 IM fast @ 3:00 [1:20s]
4 x 100 FR @ 1:35
4 x 50 @ 1:25: 25ez/25 fast BK, 25 fast BK/25 ez, 50 fast BK, 50 easy
3 x 100 FR @ 1:30
4 x 50 @ 1:25 as above
2 x 100 FR @ 1:20
4 x 50 @ 1:25 as above
[went :34, :34, :35 on the fast 50s BK]
100 synchro swim with Hannah
That was it!
This morning I swam at Riverbank, sharing a lane with Rondi and John but doing my own thing. I started out pretty tired but perked up during the 200s. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, long stretching interlude, 200 IM d/s by 25)
10 x 200 @ :20-:30 rest: 2 pull with paddles, 1 FR/BK halfsie, 1 pwp, 1 FR/BK halsie, 1 IM kick, 1 pwp, 1 FR/BK halfsie, 1 IM kick, 1 IM swim
300 warmdown + play
That was it. I reached my GTD goal of 365 miles today. Looking forward to a beach + massage day tomorrow!
Last night I went to the Team New York evening workout at John Jay. TNYA is such a big team—there’s around 500 of us—that there are whole subgroups outside of the John Jay pool morning crowd that I don’t see very often. So it was a treat to see and swim with old friends who are primarily evening swimmers, plus I enjoyed the actual workout as well (thanks to coaches BJ and Matt!). Here’s what I did:
Warmup: 400 scy swim, 4 x 75 k/d/s (I did IM order), 200 IM
3 x 50 K @ 1:10
2 x 50 BK/BR @ :55
1 x 50 FR breathe every stroke [This was useful, and something I don’t often do—I tried to work on mimicking my right (good) side breaths with my left side breaths, at least until I inhaled water doing that. Apparently the right side of my mouth isn’t as practiced at keeping out water as the left side is, which explains why I normally get more of my face out of the water when breathing left.]
Pull-with-Paddles pyramid: 50-100-150-200-150-100-50, all on :45/50 interval [I pulled on the way up, then ditches the paddles and buoy and swam 50fr/50bk/50fr, 25fr/50bk/25fr, 50bk on the way down.]
400 FR long and relaxed @ 6:30
200 FR fast[er] @ 3:30 [2:38-2:40]
100 FR sprint @ 1:15 [1:10, 1:08, 1:07]
100 warmdown + 50 synchro FR with Richard and Cara
The workout ended at 9, so I wasn’t planning on swimming this morning, but my body felt like it wanted to swim when I woke up, so off to the pool I went. I was delighted to find Rondi at Riverbank when I got there, and we shared a lane while I did the following long easy workout:
600 warmup (400s, 200k)
900 (200 FR + 50 FL + 200 FR + 50 BK + 200 FR + 50 BR + 150 FR)
700 (150 FR + 50 FL + 150 FR + 50 BK + 150 FR + 50 BR + 100 FR)
500 (100 FR + 50 FL + 100 FR + 50 BK + 100 FR + 50 BR + 50 FR)
300 (50 FR + 50 FL + 50 FR + 50 BK + 50 FR + 50 BR)
400 Kick (200 IM + 200 RIM)
6 x 50 Pull with paddles, focusing on bilateral breathing and post-breathing rotation
200 Swim, alt FR/BK by 50
100 scull + play
For the second time this week I found myself opting out of a beach swim at the last minute. This morning I was packed and ready to head out the door when I remembered to check the subways. Turned out my usual train wasn’t running, and getting to the beach would involve more time and hassle and shuttle buses than I wanted to invest in a short swim. (That was at least an improvement over Monday, when I felt unwell half way out to Brighton and had to just around and come back.) Luckily there was a swim practice near my house midday today that I went to instead. It was packed—we had six or more per lane. I ended up with five good lanemates, and enjoyed the workout a lot. Here’s what I did:
900 scy warmup, various
12 x 50 @ :55, IM progression (4 x (fl/bk, bk/br, br/fr, fr/fl))
400 IM kick
2 x 100 @ 1:50
1 x 150 @ 1:50
1 x 50 @ 1:50
4 x 100 @ 1:50
1 x 150 @ 1:50
1 x 50 @ 1:50
4 x 100 @ 1:50
1 x 150 @ 1:50
1 x 50 @ 1:50
2 x 100 @ 1:50
[This set looks confusing, but it was actually very cool. On each swim, the first person in the lane did a 150, the last person in the lane did a 50, and everyone in the middle did 100s, all on the same interval (1:50). After each swim the first person moved to the back, and we cycled around 3 times, so it was essentially 3 fast 150s with lots of active rest in between. I just barely made mine (1:47-1:48). I really enjoyed the esprit de lane this set created—we all got to encourage whoever was doing their fast swim, and congratulate them when they came in.]
8 x 50 ST, #s 4 and 8 fast [BK on first 4 (35), BK/BR on second 4 (39+)]
I was very happy after workout to remember that the lunch I had packed for the beach was in my beach bag waiting for me. It all worked out in the end!
Today I managed to blow bubble rings for the first time! I did a prosaic mid-day workout at the Y, and afterwards enjoyed having my own lane to scull and play in. I tried lying on the bottom and blowing bubble rings, which I’ve done before, and this time they actually came out as rings rather than just big bubbles. Cool! I was just in the shallow end today—I’ll have to work on my sinking skills so that I can do this in the deep end as well. I’m not yet as skilled as these guys . . .
…but it’s a start!
My workout today:
1000 scy warmup
4 x (3 x 50 FR @ 1:00, desc.)
4 x (3 x 25 @ :30 desc., stroke IM order)
400 experiment, scull, play
The beach was really lovely today. The weather is definitely turning colder, and with air temps in the 40s and an overcast sky the CIBBOWS crowd was thin. The water was flat and very clear and pretty, but chilly—it seems to have dropped a bit this week. I swam west (heading into the wind and current) first, going as far as the WonderWheel before deciding it might be smart to head back. When I reached my starting place I wasn’t quite ready to get out, though, so I swam on to the big jetty, then about half-way to the next. I had been thinking of going to the white building that usually marks the eastern endpoint of our loop, but I decided that I was getting chilled enough and ready to head in, so I did. It ended up being a truncated-at-both-ends loop, a little over 2 miles. It felt wonderfully calming and peaceful out there. I especially enjoyed watching a large three-tiered tugboat and barge combo go by, and was lulled by the dim sun glancing off the water when it peeked out from time to time.
I dressed and warmed up quickly on the beach, with Hsi-Ling leading me in some kung-fu exercises that seemed to get warm blood flowing throughout my limbs quicker than jogging around. I can’t wait to get back out there—there’s just something about swimming in chilly water that is amazing and addictive. Hurray for November beach days!
I swam at the Y today solo, doing the workout I coached on Tuesday morning, with a few modifications. Here’s how it went:
1050 warmup (200fr, 200 st/fr by 25, 200 IM kick, 200 FR pull, 200 RIM d/s by 25, + extra 50 FR)
4 x 50 FR, desc., @ :50
3 x 100 ST/FR IM order @ 1:35
2 x 75 (FL/BK/BR, BK/BR/FR) @ 2:30
1 x 200 IM
2 x 50 kick @ 1:00
3 x 100 FR desc. @ 1:30
2 x 50 K @ 1:00
3 x 150 FR/BK/FR steady pace @ 1:30
2 x 50 K @ 1:00
3 x 200 FR desc. @ 3:00 [2:54, 2:40, 2:34]
2 x 50 K @ 1:00
3 x 150 FR/BK/FR steady pace @ 2:20
2 x 50 K @ 1:00
3 x 100 FR desc. @ 1:30 [1:13 on fastest]
400 SKPS warmdown
That was it
I chose the Y today because Riverbank is doing some bulkhead repairs and so is set up scy in the morning for a while. They still have the same number of lanes open though (7 or 8), so things are a lot more crowded. I’m willing to travel and swim in warmish water for LCM, but if I’m swimming short I might as well stick closer to home and enjoy a cooler and less crowded pool. Signs at RB say the repairs will take 3-4 weeks, but the lifeguards are saying it should be more like 1. I hope they’re right—and in the meantime I’m feeling lucky to have other good pool options.
Today I swam the morning TNYA workout at John Jay College. My lane had 6 friendly and well-matched swimmers, and Brad was on deck. Here’s how it went:
950 warmup (3 x (200fr + 75 fl/bk/br + 25 sdk) + 50 extra play)
12 x 100:
2 x (100 FR @ 1:40, 2 x 100 IM @ 1:45, 2 x 100 FR @ 1:35, 1:30, 1 x 100 IM @ 1:45)
12 x 75 (25 kick + 25 fly swim + 25 kick) @ 1:30
6 x 200, done as 2 x (50fr/100bk/50fr @ 3:20, 100fr/50bk/50fr @ 3:10, 200 fr @ 3:00)
2 x 50 synchro swim with Hannah
That was it!
Things I’m grateful for today include rain boots, rain puddles, and play dates at the pool with small people.
Today I went to the Y midday for a long stretching session and a solo swim. Here’s how the latter went:
900 scy warmup (200fr, 300 st/fr by 25, 200 kick, 200 IM d/s by 25)
4 x 25 FR @ :25, 1-3 desc. to sprint, 4 easy
3 x 50 FR @ 50, desc to sprint [fastest improved each round: 34, 33, 32]
3 x 50 K @ 1:00, desc to sprint [fastest was 46 (FL kick on back)]
The sprinting felt good, although I had to remind myself not to get pokey on the turnover during the last half, both kicking and swimming. I haven’t done much all-out swimming since IGLA. Looking forward to improving the times as I work on this part of my swimming more.
I’ve been enjoying the earlier sunrise since the time changed, but hadn’t been able to adjust my sleeping to the new hours. I can tell myself that I’m an early riser when I wake up at 4:30, and I generally enjoy having a bonus half-hour or so of quiet time to plan my day and prioritize desk stuff before heading off to swim. But 3:30am —well, there’s no way to spin that as anything but insomnia. Finally this morning I slept until 5, so maybe my body’s gotten the memo about that whole falling back thing!
This morning I coached the early TNYA workout, then headed out to the beach with Hannah. We took turns swimming from Grimaldo’s chair. I went to the aquarium and back, and enjoyed a good shiver on the beach after. The water was crisp and had some movement to it—not quite “sporty,” but at least a little jaunty. The sun was in and out, and with air temps in the 50s the beach was fairly empty. It felt like such a privilege to have the whole beautiful place to ourselves—or at least to share it with a few territorial seagulls, one of which kept trying to grab the edge of my beach blanket in its beak. Afterwards we went by the spa just a block from the beach that offers good $35 hour-long massages, then picked up a knish for the subway ride home. I treasure these fall beach days.
I had a good swim this morning at Riverbank State Park, sharing a lane and most of a workout with Rondi and Hannah. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200 RIMk, 200p, 200 IM d/s by 25)
1 x 100 FR @ 1:40
1 x 50 fr @ 1:00
2 x 100 FR @ 1:40
1 x 50 fr @ 1:00
3 x 100 FR @ 1:40
1 x 50 fr @ 1:00
4 x 100 FR @ 1:40
1 x 50 fr @ 1:00
5 x 100 FR @ 1:40
1 x 50 fr @ 1:00
[My goal was to keep all the 100s under 1:30—I made 14 of 15. Pleased, as I was having trouble just making the interval on these a month ago.]
50 easy swim
12 x 100 fr/bk halfsies, descend each set of 3, @ 1:50 (first 7) and 1:45 (last 5)
400 IM kick/swim by 50
300 fr pull
200 IM kick
100 warmdown + play
It was such a pretty morning that I walked home from Riverbank—about 4 miles—on the footpath by the Hudson, enjoying the brilliant foliage and the white-capped river.
Things I’m grateful for today: good lanemates who are also good friends, toe socks, and race directors who hold swims in interesting conditions. In that last category is Andy Davis, who put on the first-ever 2.6-mile Cold Water Challenge in Fairfield, CT this past Saturday. It was a really beautiful swim and I enjoyed it greatly. Water in the sound was flat and in the mid- to high-50s. Hope it becomes an annual tradition!
I had an amazing time last week in Seattle at the 2013 IGLA Championships. Over 5 days I competed in 13 events (in the pool, on the diving boards, and in the open water swim), plus managed to hit some of the many social events and get in a few extracurricular fun swims. The whole week was exhilarating and exhausting. Here are a few of the highlights:
Tuesday, August 13, 12 noon
The competition pool opens for warm-ups at 12, and I’m there at the stroke of noon. The buses transporting swimmers from downtown haven’t arrived yet, and when I come out on deck the place is still empty. The meet organizers tell me the pool is open, and that the lifeguards are getting bored. Will I get in and give them something to do? You bet I will! I have the whole pool to myself for nearly a half hour while others trickle in for the 3pm meet start.
After my swim warmup, I stretch and try out the diving boards, then count and cheer for fellow blogger andrewmalinak and other teammates during the 1500. I like the Federal Way pool! Although subsequent days are a little more crowded than this first distance day, it always feels like there is plenty of room on deck, plenty of warmup lanes, plenty of locker room space.
I’m downtown at the Aquarium. We have the place to ourselves after hours for IGLA’s opening party—no kids three-deep around the touch tanks tonight! I coo over the snoozing baby sea otters as the sun sets over the sound.
My first event is the 100 FL. My swimming goal is to win all 5 of my individual events, and this one should be doable—there’s no one else in my age group. That means I can either take it easy, or I can go after it without worrying that dying on the last 50 will cost my team points. I choose the latter, and end up splitting the race 36-43. Ouch.
My next race is the 50 BK, and it’s one of two I expect will be tight—I’m racing against my Seattle friend Jennifer, who dusted me last year in the 100 BK in Iceland. She’s a faster backstroker, but my start and turns put me in front off each wall. I end up barely holding her off in the last 10 meters for the win. (The championship-style seeding at this meet sometimes seemed odd in the women’s events, where there were often only 2 or 3 heats, but in the swims where I had close competition in my age group I enjoyed being able to see them while I raced).
The 200 IM is about 20 minutes later, and, remembering my 100 FL from earlier in the day, I take out my fly leg on the IM in very relaxed dps mode (5 strokes on the first lap, 6 on the second, 41 sec, vs. 10/11 and 36 on the 100 FL). I go into the backstroke feeling fresh as a daisy, which makes for a pretty IM if not the fastest one I’ve ever swum. An 800 FR relay finishes off the morning swim session.
Wednesday 2:30 pm
In addition to swimming and diving, I get to indulge my inner Busby Berkeley/Billy Rose impulses at this event by choreographing the in-water part of our Pink Flamingo entry. And—it gets even better!—an Esther Williams impersonator and diving boards are involved. I’m loving this meet. The choreographing is actually easy—the 6 teammates doing the routine are very good and get things after one go-through—and spending an hour working with them is total fun. I can’t wait to cheer them on at the performance on Saturday!
After a 50 FL and a 400 medley relay in the morning swim session, it’s finally time for diving! Today’s 1m competition is what I’ve been looking forward to ever since I arrived. In practice, the success rate on my dives (doing them legally and not crashing too badly on the entries) ranges from about 50 percent (for my “aspirational” dive, a front somersault with a full twist) to about 90 percent, so it seems like over the course of 7 dives in competition the odds of completely fluffing at least one of them are pretty high. I don’t though—I do everything competently, and one or two things semi-well, and at this stage that counts as a huge success. It takes me about 3 rounds to get over being horribly nervous and realize that I’m actually having fun. After the competition Olympian and guest judge Kent Ferguson tells me I have nice lines. Joy! My dives and scores:
Front dive tuck (degree of difficulty 1.2) 6.5 5.5 5.5Front 1.5 somersault (dd 1.6) 4.0 3.0 4.5Inward dive tuck (dd 1.4) 5.0 4.5 5.0Reverse dive tuck (dd 1.6) 5.0 4.5 4.5Back dive straight (dd 1.7) 5.5 6.0 6.0Back dive with a half twist, straight (dd 1.8) 4.5 5.0 5.0Front somersault with a full twist (dd 1.9) 4.0 4.5 5.0
After a long day in the natatorium, I head up to Alki Beach for the IGLA women’s garden party. There’s delicious grilled salmon, wonderful salads, and brownies and peaches for dessert, and lots of fun conversation. While watching a glorious, drawn-out sunset over the sound, I decide that IGLA is my idea of the perfect adult summer camp.
My body resists switching from east coast time, plus I’m very nervous about the 3m competition today. I’m awake, and decide to use the time to watch the replay of the dive competition from yesterday. Yikes—I really need to get my legs straight and together. That should be the easy part of all this tumbling around in the air, but somehow it isn’t. I manage to fall back to sleep briefly before I have to get up and head off to the pool.
(All of the IGLA competitions except for the open water were live webcast, and the videos remain archived—at least for now.).
Diving warm-ups are from 11-1. The 3-meter board is looking very high. I’m so nervous that I don’t even want to climb up there for warm-ups. Specifically, I’m scared of my back dive. It’s usually a reliable dive, but during the previous week I seem to have developed a tendency to over-rotate it, and have crashed badly on a few that came closer to a ¾ rotation than the required ½. (If I go over 3/4 around, the dive will not count at all, plus the landing hurts). I still have bruises on my thighs from doing this the previous week in practice. I try telling myself that I shouldn’t warm up this dive before the competition, because if I crash I will just be that much more afraid, but I know that’s just the fear talking. I try a few off the 1m, then climb up to the 3m to do one off that height.
And I promptly crash it, hitting my thighs hard again on the water as I over-rotate. Coach Croft looks up from his meet director duties and tells me to make my take-off stronger, so that the dive goes up first, rather than simply throwing it backwards off the board. This is counter-intuitive—the last thing I want to do is get more height on something where I’ve just hit the water hard—but I know that’s what is required. So I practice a few back take-offs, then try the back dive again. Not perfect, but better. I’m happy I have that key to think about during competition.
And speaking of keys, I keep a little notebook that has each of my dives in it, so that I can review my keys for each one during the break between rounds. This not only keeps me focused, but also helps stave off nerves while I wait for my turn to come up. For the 3m every single dive has “strong takeoff” and “eyes open” as keys, and usually one more thing pertaining to the particular dive. When I’m frightened, I tend to take timid little jumps off the board rather than taking my time and letting the board spring me up into the air. I also tend to close my eyes, which makes landing the dives a challenge—I end up cringe and waiting for the water to hit me, rather than reaching out strongly towards the water for the entry. I discover that when I’m really nervous, both of these tendencies get worse.
Still, I make it through all 7 rounds with legal dives, and even remember to point my toes and keep my legs straight and together a little better than yesterday. Here are my dives and scores:
Front dive tuck position (1.4 dd) 6 7 5Front 1.5 somersault tuck position (1.5 dd) 4 4.5 5Inward dive tuck (1.3) 5.5 6.5 6.5Reverse dive tuck (1.8 dd) 5 5 4.5Back dive straight (1.9 dd) 4 6 5Back dive with half twist, straight position (2.0 dd) 5 5.5 4.5Back flip straight (1.8 dd) 4 5.5 4
Whew! I’m so relieved when this is over. I realize after that my goal has been a negative one—avoiding failure—rather than a positive one for this event. I think that the positive goals—wanting to excel in my dives, and increase my scores—will come, but for right now I’m just pleased as punch to have learned my seven dives, and performed them competently in competition. I’m beginning to feel an ownership of them now that I didn’t before—I really can do this thing!
I enjoy watching the platform and synchro 3m competitions, then it’s time for my final dive competition of the meet—the 1m synchro. I’m diving with fellow swimmer-turned-diver Onesimo. This part is pure fun—just 4 dives, all of which I’m confident in, with the challenge of synching up the approach distracting me from any nerves. Here’s how it went:
Front dive tuck 6 7 6.5Front 1.5 tuck 5.5 6.5 5.5Inward dive tuck 5 7 5.5Back dive straight 5 6 6
Onesimo and I are the only mixed-gender duo in the synchro dive competition, so we end up with a gold medal. That makes 3 for me in diving (I was the only woman in my age group in the other two competitions).
I celebrate a successful day at the pool with . . . an outing to another pool! I meet up with Andrew and a couple of local swimmers at Colman pool (aka Kirk’s fabulous summer pool). It’s a wonderful 50m saltwater beauty located right on the sound. We swim in the lap lanes, go down the water slide, wander down to the adjacent beach for a dip (the water is delightful—low-to-mid 60s—and I wish I had time to swim more there). Then we go back up to the pool for more water sliding. It’s a great way to wind down from the stress of the day, and we follow up with burritos at Alki Beach afterwards. Sunset over the sound never gets old.
It’s back to the pool early for a another full day—the last one--at the Wyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. I swim a 50 BR and the 4 x 50 Free relay, take part in the diving exhibition, and watch the synchro swim competition, which is dominated by teams from the Multnomah Aquatic Club in Portland. They do amazing things, and wear amazing sparkly suits that are custom made (yes I asked about the suits—the women I talked to have gone from sewing sequins one-by-one on swimsuits during high school to being able to design their suits and have them made up for them by local seamstresses). Their duo entries include a charming routine by a mother-daughter combo—and the mother is 83 years old! The Multnomah crew also end up winning the Pink Flamingo competition, with a tribute to Esther Williams that includes voice-overs from her autobiography.
A couple of the synchro girls teach me to do pin-wheels in the water. Beach synchro is getting a new move soon.
Sunday 8 am
IGLA concludes with an open-water swim in beautiful Lake Washington. We’re all looking a little worse for wear at this point, but the lake is restorative. And I finally get to meet James, who rocks the 2-mile wetsuit swim. Of course there’s lake synchro after!
I can’t say enough good things about the wonderful people who organized this IGLA. This is one of the best run meets I’ve ever been to, and also one of the most joyful and friendliest. Kudos to everyone who had a hand in putting together the event. Every aspect of the week—meet management, social events, staying-in-Seattle logistics, all the other sports competitions—was a home run. The aquatic center facilities staff were also really impressive, seamlessly changing the pool setups from warm-ups to swimming to polo and diving and back again.
I was looking at next year’s calendar, and there are 3 big swim meets—Worlds in Montreal, USMS LC nats in Maryland, and Gay Games in Cleveland—going on right around the same time in August. My experience in Seattle—plus the opportunity to dive as well as swim--makes me lean towards Cleveland. .
My meet results
Event 5 Women 45-49 100 SC Meter Butterfly
1 Harris, Janet 48 Team New York Aquatics-6 1:24.21 1:20.87
r:+0.93 36.92 1:20.87 (43.95)
Event 9 Women 45-49 50 SC Meter Backstroke
1 Harris, Janet 48 Team New York Aquatics-6 36.63 36.12
Event 11 Women 45-49 200 SC Meter IM
1 Harris, Janet 48 Team New York Aquatics-6 2:56.52 2:58.48
r:+0.89 41.82 1:27.88 (46.06) 2:19.37 (51.49) 2:58.48 (39.11)
Event 18 Women 45-49 50 SC Meter Butterfly
1 Harris, Janet 48 Team New York Aquatics-6 35.53 34.13
Event 47 Women 45-49 50 SC Meter Breaststroke
1 Harris, Janet 48 Team New York Aquatics-6 41.14 42.58
Event 15 Mixed 160-199 800 SC Meter Freestyle Relay
2 Team New York Aquatics-6 A 10:15.55 10:48.70
1) Harris, Janet W48 2) Rodarte, ShannonW39 3) Napoli, John M43 4) Morrissey, James M40
Event 28 Mixed 160-199 400 SC MeterMedley Relay
2 Team New York Aquatics-6 A 5:30.99 5:43.84
1) Harris, Janet W48 2) r:+0.60 Rodarte, ShannonW393) r:+0.62 Napoli, John M43 4) r:+0.51 Morrissey, James M40
r:+0.81 41.25 1:24.77 (1:24.77) 2:04.79 (40.02) 2:52.43 (1:27.66)
3:37.69 (45.26) 4:31.85 (1:39.42) 5:06.42 (34.57) 5:43.84 (1:11.99)
Event 40 Mixed 160-199 200 SC MeterMedley Relay
4 Team New York Aquatics-6 A 2:19.00 2:31.40
1) Martins, Jack M38 2) r:+0.73 Turnbull-Brown, Elisa3b)etrh:+W0.4214 Chamberlain, Randall 4M)4r:4+0.22 Harris, Janet W48
r:+0.84 39.95 1:23.75 (43.80) 1:58.44 (34.69) 2:31.40 (32.96)
Event 51 Mixed 160-199 200 SC Meter Freestyle Relay
1 Team New York Aquatics-6 A 2:10.99 1:56.97
1) Harris, Janet W48 2) r:+0.50 Rodarte, ShannonW393) r:+0.47 Damron, James M44 4) r:+0.49 Barclay, Alexander M32
r:+0.82 31.05 1:02.50 (31.45) 1:28.83 (26.33) 1:56.97 (28.14)
Open-water results (I finished 2nd in the 45-49 non-wetsuit 2-mile race, with a time of 56.33)
Complete dive results (link pending)
My focus event this summer—the IGLA championships in Seattle August 13-18—is just 9 days away, and I’ve been making final plans and preparations for that event. I’ll be competing in 3 different aquatic disciplines—pool swimming, open water swimming, and diving--plus it looks like I might do the in-water choreography for our team’s entry in the closing Pink Flamingo competition. Here’s what my schedule will look like:
Arrive Monday 12 August evening
Tuesday 13 August: dive practice + easy swim at competition facility, counting for teammates’ 1500s
Wednesday 14 August: 100 FL, 50 BK, 200 IM, (4 x 200 FR relay)
Thursday 15 August: 50 fly, (4 x 100 medley relay), 1m dive competition
Friday 16 August: (4 x 100 FR relay), (4 x 50 medley relay), 3m dive competition
Saturday 17 August: 50 breast, (4 x 50 free relay), dive exhibition?, Pink Flamingo
Sunday 18 August: 2-mile open water swim
Here’s how things are looking:
It was a race to the wire to learn enough dives to compete in the 3m competition as well as the 1m. Last Sunday I learned a back dive with a half twist from both boards, which gave me a seventh dive, and one from the twisting category, on the higher board. So now I’m good to go.
(As a woman, my competition lists will include 6 official, scored dives on each board. But because FINA requires 7 dives for men, women at IGLA are given the opportunity to do a seventh unofficial “equality” dive to protest this gender equality. In addition, all five groups of dives--forward, backward, inward, reverse, and twisting--should be included among the 7).
So on the 3m my dives will be:
Front dive tuckFront 1½ somersault tuckBack dive straightBack flip straightReverse dive tuckInward dive tuckBack dive straight with ½ twist
This has to be among the lowest degree-of-difficulty dive lists you’ll ever see—but hey, I’m just thrilled to be competing!
On the 1m I might replace the twisty back dive with a front somersault with a full or half twist—I have some choices there—and I do the back flip in a tuck position rather than lay-out. I have three more practices to make everything better and to practice doing the different dives one after the other, rather than working on just one or two per practice.
As for the competition itself, Federal Way is a great diving facility—Olympic Trials were held there in 2012. Competition runs from 1 to 2:30 each day, and there are platform and synchro competitions as well (both on Friday). I know there are 16 divers total (about half from my team, half from various elsewheres); I’m not sure if there will be anyone else in my age group. My goal is to do all my dives legally, and to maybe hit one or two really well from each height. Whatever I do, since this is my first official meet, my scores will automatically be lifetime PRs!
Oh, and Kent Ferguson (former world champion on 3m and 92 Olympian) will be one of the judges at the competition. Very cool!
This is a short course meters meet, with 2 courses going simultaneously. Men’s and women’s events are separate, and championship seeding (by age groups) is generally used for the shorter events. Turns will be guttered rather FINA walls, and starting blocks will have wedges (my first time using those). Swim competition is scheduled to run from 8:30 to 12:30 each day. Federal Way is supposed to be a fast pool.
My goals here are to score points for my team and to have fun racing. Team New York won the swim competition at last year’s IGLA in Iceland by a huge margin, but this year we come into the meet as underdogs—the DC squad has 69 swimmers to our 61, and also has way more women. (Women at IGLA meets are key, since the swim meet skews about 80-85 percent men—women typically score points in any event they swim, whereas the men’s events, especially in the 20s-40s age groups, can go several dozen deep). So my focus is on placing as well as I can in all my events, and contributing what I can to relays.
I picked my events (50 FL/BK/BR, 100 FL, 2IM) to avoid swimming too much on days I have diving, and to avoid having swim events that overlap with diving warm-ups. (Some relays might be going on at the same time as diving warm-ups, in which case I’ll shuttle back-and-forth between the diving well and competition pool as needed.) My swim training has taken a back seat to dive training and to rehabbing a calf injury this past month, and I was a little worried about my endurance in the 100 fly, especially since it’s not one of my usual events. So I have to admit I was a little relieved when the psych sheets came out, and I was listed as the only one swimming the 100 fly in my age group.
The two events where competition will be toughest are in the 50 BK and 50 FL. I’ve been trying to do very focused work for these events, but it’s been hampered by not being able to do many wall push-offs yet. Luckily my calf is healing well, and I’m hopeful that by the time I arrive in Seattle I will be swimming pain-free, if not as well prepared as I might like. I’m imagining that the swim events will feel like a comfortable respite from the diving, where everything is new and a little scary. Some diving teammates are in the opposite situation, new to swim competitions but old hats at diving—it will be nice to look to them for mutual support and encouragement.
In addition to my 5 events, we are allowed to swim 4 of the 5 relays. With 60+ swimmers and all the combinations of ages and genders possible, doing the relay assignments is a huge task—I don’t envy Coach Scott in the coming days! I’ve told him I’m happy swimming anything, and am looking forward to swimming with friends old and new.
After 5 days in an indoor pool, I get to cap off the week with a 2-mile swim in Lake Washington. What a treat!
IGLA competitions always come with plenty of social events, and the Seattle crew seems to have done a ton of event planning. There’s an opening party at the Seattle Aquarium, hosted dinners with local swimmers, a women’s Garden Party and dinner near Alki Beach, a sunset cruise in the sound, closing banquet, etc. I’m singed up for all of those except the cruise (it runs too late for someone who never seems to adjust to west coast time when I'm out there). I'm also looking forward to making a trip to Colman Pool to try out the water slide, swimming in the sound (hoping to find a local guide for that!), and doing some other touristy stuff. Back at the pool, there will be water polo (go TNYA!) and synchro competitions in the afternoons, plus Pink Flamingo rehearsals. I have to get out my guidebook and the IGLA schedule and see what other things I want to shoehorn in.
IGLA 2013 websiteMeet SwimPhoneLive Streaming
Questions for anyone who has read this far:
Does anyone have any recommendations for things to do near Seattle that I shouldn’t miss? I’ve stayed downtown lots of times and have seen most of the things within walking distance of the downtown hotels. This time I’ll have a car and am interested in stuff within easy driving distance from Federal Way.
Any advice on starting from wedge blocks? What do you do differently from a regular track start?
Updated August 4th, 2013 at 12:20 PM by swimsuit addict
Last weekend I drove up to Maine for the 2.4 mile Nubble Light Challenge. I first read about this race in Chicken of the Sea’s blog, and was further tempted by a fellow CIBBOWS swimmer’s fb pictures of the swim course last year. But what really got me thinking about doing the event this year was talking to slknight at the 2 Bridges swim earlier this year, and realizing that York Beach, where NLC is held, is not a gazillion miles away but just over the Maine border, just an easy day’s drive from the city (about 5-6 hours, with traffic, as it turned out). Thanks Susan!
I drove up on Thursday, enjoyed playing tourist for a day and a half in southern Maine, then on Saturday morning showed up at York High School to be bused to the swim start. I was early, so got to get in a couple of warmup swims and visit with fellow swimmers while waiting around for the 9am start. The weather in Maine was uncharacteristically hot—highs had been in the 90s for several days—but the water was in the low 60s and very refreshing. I enjoyed swimming and playing in the water with CIBBOWS friend Patty. We discovered a layer of deliciously cold water down near the sandy bottom just offshore.
Soon enough we were getting ready for the start. This event is mostly a wetsuit swim—out of 142 finishers there were only 17 of us “naked” swimmers—and I did not at all envy those who had to pull on their rubber suits on this hot morning, then stand around in them in the sun waiting for the race to get underway. Luckily some cloud cover appeared just before start time. We started in 5 waves, with each wave having a different color swim cap. Waves were spaced 2 minutes apart, with the fastest swimmers going first. I was in the fourth wave (pink caps), so got to watch the other waves and confirm that there were no significant currents tending to pull swimmers off course as they headed out towards the first buoy.
Soon my wave was up, there was a countdown, and we were off. The start beach was sandy, and very shallow for a long way out. Even though we started in knee-deep water, I had to run for about 30 meters through some gentle breakers before getting to water deep enough to swim in. I started all the way over to the right of my wave, which was small enough that there was minimal crowding at the start. We swam between two stationary boats on our way to the first of 5 buoys that marked the way out to the lighthouse for which the race is named.
In every race it seems like there is one thing that makes me unexpectedly happy during the swim. In this event there were lots of happy-making elements that I expected to be delightful, and that were—the cold water, the wonderfully scenic course, and the sense of adventure and exhilaration that swimming in a new locale on a gorgeous day brings. But the quirky thing that made me smile throughout the race was this: I was wearing blue-tinted goggles that made all the pink caps in my wave appear an eye-popping shade of brilliant purple. I didn’t realize this would happen until the start—I wear a new pair of goggles for each race, and had warmed up in a pair of orange ones. I put on the blue ones just as my wave was lining up to start, and was startled and entranced to see that the once-pink caps all turn vivid purple through my new lenses. (No other colors seemed very affected, just the neon pink caps). It made me even happier to realize that if I could see my own cap it would be that color as well. All through the race, this effect never got old—whenever I saw one of those purple caps, I felt a gleam of joy.
Once underway, the buoys were pretty easy to spot, plus the lighthouse that marked the middle of the course was clearly visible, so the sighting on the way out was easy. In addition, swimmers were allowed to have their own kayak escort for the race, and maybe a quarter to or so of the swimmers did so. I was initially worried that it would be hard to navigate around these personal kayak escorts during the swim, but it was not at all. In fact, they were helpful—if I couldn’t see the next buoy with a quick peek ahead, I just followed the line of kayakers around me. During the entire swim there were always a few swimmers and kayaks near me, but at no time did it feel crowded out there.
The race took us around a rocky headland, at the end of which there was a small island upon which the lighthouse sits. As we neared the lighthouse I could feel some choppy currents below the surface of the water. There were gentle swells on the surface, but below them the water seemed like it was moving around in interesting ways. I was looking forward to swimming through the “Gut,” which is what the narrow passageway between the lighthouse’s island and the mainland is called. I knew it would probably be the coldest part of the course—other participants, and the race director, had mentioned that water temps often fell 10 degrees at this point in the course. It was also very shallow. I had been out to look at this part of the course a couple of days before, and at low tide the water there was just inches deep—you could easily have waded out to the lighthouse. But tides in Maine are dramatic. I could see the high-tide line on the boulders ten to twelve feet above, and realized that the race must be timed with tide in order for there to be a swimmable passageway inside the lighthouse.
The Gut was fairly narrow—I’d guess about 20 meters across—and as we neared it field of swimmers around me grew closer, and I began to see boulders and rocks on the bottom. There was a lot of kelp floating on the water in this section, and as we got close to the mainland I could see and hear a crowd of people watching the race and cheering us on from the small park across from the lighthouse. I turned over and did a couple of strokes backstroke, to wave to them and to take in the view of the lighthouse, but I didn’t want to stay on my back too long in case I needed to navigate around some of the boulders in the shallow water. I really enjoyed this section of the course—I don’t think I’ve done an open-water swim before where you could see and hear spectators mid-race. I had just begun to wonder why the water had not grown colder here as promised when the temperature around me suddenly plunged. Ahh—there is was! Now things were perfect. (After the race I heard that the water at the Gut was 56, which is relatively mild for that part of the course—other years it has been in the 40s.)
All too soon I was through the Gut and swimming the back half of the course, skirting the northern side of the headland on my way to the finishing beach at Short Sands. Happily, the water temp didn’t rise back up much, and I stroked happily along, feeling that the water was cold around me but not feeling cold myself. I passed a steady stream of swimmers and kayakers—I had caught up to some swimmers in the previous waves—and the pink-turned-purple caps became rarer, but were still a happy-making sight. The sun had come out, the buoys were easy to see, and this part of the course seemed to just fly by as I swam contentedly along.
The finishing beach came into sight, and the water grew warmer and brighter as the bottom came into view. There was someone from my wave who had been nearby the entire race right behind me, so as soon as I spotted the finishing chute I began swimming hard towards it, even kicking a bit to pick up the pace. A couple of body lengths ahead of me was someone from a previous wave. When he veered off course a bit I thought I might have a chance of passing him on the finishing stretch, but he found his line and kicked things into a higher gear, so I never really had a shot of catching up with him even though I kept trying. I had swum at the finishing beach the previous day and knew that it was a little rocky/pebbly, so I made sure to swim in as far as I possibly could before standing and running the last little bit up through the finishing chute. Done! I was happy with my swim, and felt like I had put in a good solid effort the entire course.
After the swim there were massages, yummy pulled pork sandwiches, and other treats. I got to visit with Mainers Susan, John, and Kirsten and lots of other friendly swimmers. This race drew such a friendly and happy crowd—all day long I met swimmers who were so enthusiastic and grateful for this chance to swim in the ocean, and who seemed delighted that I had somehow found my way to a race that they took such pride and joy in doing. Many had done the inaugural race and had been back every year since. Kudos to Bob and Josh Reed for putting on an event that inspires such loyalty—after having done the race, I understand why people love it so much!
My finishing time of 1:12:30 netted me 2nd place among the non-wetsuited women (after super Susan), and 61st place out of 142 swimmers overall. I was sad to leave after a day of such fun swimming and socializing, but very happy to know about this great event. I want it to be next year already so I can go back and do it again! In the be-careful-what-you-wish-for category, part of me wants to do it under more epic conditions—with truly cold water, or with challenging sea conditions. But I feel very lucky to have found such perfect conditions for my first experience of sea swimming in Maine.
jbs's write-up of the race
Updated July 26th, 2013 at 09:39 AM by swimsuit addict
I enjoyed a very pleasant week of swimming, almost all of it outdoors. NYC’s public outdoor pools began their lap swim season last Tuesday, so there’s a bounty of outdoor swimming opportunities between now and the end of August. Here’s what last week looked like:
Monday—Riverbank, indoor (50m) + outdoor (25y) pools
Wednesday—Lasker Pool (Central Park, 50+ meters) evening lap swim
Thursday—Brighton Beach play day + swim
Friday—John Jay Park pool (77th near the East River, 48 1/3 yards) morning lap swim
Saturday—Brighton Beach, 4-mile adventure swim to Seagate and back
I’m grateful to pool tourist to introducing me to the city’s wonderful outdoor pools—looking forward to collecting cards from a record number of them this season!
My pool swims this week were mostly just easy freestyle laps. I’ve lost a couple of weeks of real training—both swimming and diving—to an injured left calf, but thankfully that seems on the mend. The good news is that it’s just a muscle injury, not tendonitis or anything worse. I’m seeing a PT who is working on it, and was able to swim and even push off pool walls with moderate force on Friday without pain. I get to check out how it feels diving again tonight. I was worried early this week that this injury would keep me from competing in IGLA in mid-August—swimming with any force was quite painful, and diving was out of the question--but now I’m feeling more hopeful about my prospects. I’ll just need to adjust my expectations, and maybe compete in just the 1m springboard event rather than both (I still need to learn some more dives for the 3m, and I’m not sure yet how much the calf will limit my board time between now and then). Not being able to train properly 4-6 weeks out from a swim meet is annoying, but luckily I’ve had the distraction of these new outdoor swimming venues to keep me focused on the pleasure of swimming itself rather fretting about not being able to do everything I want to in the pool.
The OW swims this week have really been fun. On Thursday the beach was a cool and breezy refuge from the hot city, and yesterday’s swim was especially wonderful, as I explored a new route at Brighton. The Coney Island pier is usually the turn-around point for swims there, but I’ve been intrigued by reports of other swimmers going beyond it. So yesterday I recruited a swim buddy, and Caitlin and I swam under the pier and down towards Seagate before turning around for the return journey, about 4 miles roundtrip. It was a very foggy morning when we set out—we were just able to make out the jetties as we swam from one to the next—and everything looked ghostly in the white mist, cormorants and ships and jetties all. We had a strong current with us, and were swept swiftly westwards whenever we stopped to look around and appreciate the spooky morning. Finally we the pier loomed ahead of us. I let Caitlin swim through first—she’s braver, and had been there before—then I followed. I was a little afraid of running into jellyfish, or rubbing up against the barnacled pilings, so I swam swiftly through and didn’t linger. Once on the other side, I waved up at the construction workers on the pier who were watching us, and they waved back and asked us how the water was. (The pier is still closed to the public as it’s being rebuilt after Sandy, so we didn’t have to worry about navigating around any fishing lines).
The beach beyond the pier looked very similar to “our” beach, but the shapes of the jetties and buildings were unfamiliar, and the juxtaposition was uncanny. We weren’t sure how far the beach went in this direction, so swam in short segments, to the next jetty or lifeguard stand that we could make out in the fog. We saw a lot of boat traffic, and there must have been more out in the channel, judging by the symphony of foghorns. It was such a cool experience being out there, with everything except the water itself seeming slightly eerie. Finally we spotted the last lifeguard umbrella that marked the end of the beach, with a very long jetty beyond it. We swam to that lifeguard chair then turned around.
On the return trip we started seeing sunlight reflecting on the water, patches of blue started appearing in the sky, and the fog eventually burned off, leaving a pleasant sunny day. The current was against us, but with a clearer notion of where we were going we swam strong against it without as many stops. Finally we were back at the pier. This time I stopped on the way under to admire the different shades of green water as we passed from shadow to light, to appreciate the endless-pool effect of the current as I did breaststroke by the pilings, and finally to do some backstroke and watch the underside of the pier get closer and recede as the waves carried me up and down. What a fun place to play—I already want to go back!
On the way back we found a pod of Team New York swimmers and synchro circled with them, then met up with various CIBBOWS friends at various stages in their workout. The water turned deep green in the sun, and there were small rolling swells that rocked me gently as I swam. It had turned into a gorgeous sunny day—the perfect way to end a fun week of swimming. Hurray for summer in the city!
I enjoyed the long weekend, and managed to get in good swims every day. On the Fourth I ventured out with a few pool tourism buddies to the Red Hook pool, where we did a fun workout before hitting the food trucks for a late lunch. Among the city’s summer outdoor pools Red Hook is special because it has lap swimming (40m lengths) during all open hours. It was lovely swimming almost-LCM outdoors on the sunny holiday, and the pool was a peaceful and oh-so-blue oasis on a hot summer day.
On Friday I went out to Brighton Beach and swam what was maybe the easiest 5k loop I’ve ever done. The water was flat, the current was negligible the entire time I was out, and it seemed like the distance just flew by. The surface of the water was so smooth and reflective—I enjoyed watching the small undulations reflecting the light on every breath. It was another hot sunny day—we’ve been having what I think of as good, honest summer weather this week, by Alabama standards—but the beach wasn’t too crowded, and everyone seemed very mellow. I got there early and left early, before the sand became painful to walk on.
On Saturday I stayed here in the city to coach and do a pool workout. My team had three consecutive workouts at the John Jay College pool. I coached the middle one, which was aimed at newish masters swimmers (I got to explain pace clocks and intervals, which I always get a kick out off—it’s easy to forget how foreign so many conventions of swim workouts seem those outside our community). I was then glad to jump into the water for the third session. That was a rare uncrowded TNYA workout—I had my own lane, which never ever happens. Unfortunately, I’m not enjoying my pool swims as much as usual these days because I have a calf issue that keeps me from pushing off walls with any force—it’s frustrating when I’m trying to go fast but essentially have to come to a near standstill after each turn. Still, it was nice to swim with some longtime teammates, and again, the water was a cool respite on a toasty day. It’s good to be a swimmer in the summer!
Finally, today I went out to Brighton again for another loop. I arrived early, and bought a day pass at the Shorefront Y so that I could stash my stuff in a locker there and have a place to shower afterwards. That worked out well. I swam a loop—a difficult one this time, with some strong current against in both directions. On the way to the pier, I stopped at the cormorants’ jetty to say good morning to the birds, and watched as the current carried me swiftly backwards as soon as I stopped stroking. At the pier, I stopped to chat with Pauline and Melinda, and we were carried almost back to the next jetty (luckily in the direction we were about swim) during our chat. During the second half of the swim, I struggled for a while to make my way past the long jetty and then out to the white building, but then I just flew on the way back. There were some occasional swells when the wind kicked up, and I enjoyed swimming with them and then through them.
Through it all, I actually kind of relished the way the ocean thwarted my sense of expected progress. It made the experience kind of dreamy and surreal, since I felt like there wasn’t much relation between my swimming motions and how fast I was moving. I certainly had the sense (and it was mostly just a suspicion, since I don’t wear a watch when I’m swimming) that this loop was taking longer than usual, but that didn’t bother me—I didn’t have a deadline I had to finish by, I was confident I would get there eventually, and the water was a joy to be swimming in, so bonus swim time was in some ways a plus. It was freeing to realize that I wasn’t very much in control of when I finished this swim, and that it was just a matter of stroking along until I was done.
Afterwards, I floated in a cold patch until I got chill bumps, then lay on the warm sand until I was hot (that took about 10 minutes), then got in and cooled off again before heading out. The water here is getting warmer—the occasional cooler patches were a treat. Time to head up to Maine to find some colder ocean, which is exactly what I plan to do in a couple of weeks. I’ve signed up for the 2.4 mile Nubble Light Challenge on July 20, and have even secured an official wetsuit exemption for the event. It looks like a beautiful swim, and I’m excited to be going to an area of the country I’ve never visited before. It will be a quick trip this year, but if the area as pleasant as expected it might turn out to be a place for future vacations.
My other events this year are IGLA in Seattle (pool swimming, diving, and 2-mile OW swim) in August and the CIBBOWS Aquarium Swim in September. There are a few other OW 10k-ish swims in the area during September that I might choose to enter as well, but for the most part this is an off year for me on the OW front. I’m beginning to feel the glimmerings of the desire to do longer swims again, though, so I might start looking for a big swim to do in 2014.
As far as diving progress—well, things were going well, and I had even discovered a way to dive as many days of the week as I wanted, by supplementing TNYA workouts practices with the kids team practices at Columbia. The latest trick I’ve learned is a somersault with a full twist off the 1m, which I can do consistently legally but not very well. But my desire to dive more often seems to have gotten ahead of my body’s ability to do so. My left calf is injured, and swells up painfully behind the knee when I do much with it. After a week and a half’s rest it’s somewhat better, but still not healed enough to dive again, I’m getting it checked out this week, and will know more about when I can return to the boards after I see my doc and pt. (Breaststroke, hard kicking, and pushoffs are also painful, so I hope I can get this resolved soon). Until then, I’m glad I’m enjoying the OW swimming again. I guess it’s good in any case to have multiple things you enjoy doing, all the more so with an aging and injury-prone body.