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  1. Beach swim

    I had been looking forward all week to heading back to the beach this weekend. Last week, I barely did more than dip in the cold water; this week, I wanted to stay in and swim long enough to get in the full range of cold-water swimming sensations—or at least the ones that fall to the safe side of hypothermic spectrum. The water had scarcely warmed up from last week—it was between 40 and 41 today—and air temps were in the high 30s when I left home. But the day was sunny, and there wasn’t too much wind, so I had hopes that it would warm up a bit by the time I got out to the beach and in the water.

    When I arrived at Brighton one of my fellow CIBBOWSers was finishing up an ice swim. (To be an official ice swimmer you must swim a mile at 5C or below). She had attempted this the previous week and fallen a little short, but today she made it the whole distance, and I was happy to be there to see her achieve her goal. Once that had been accomplished and she and her crew had gone up to her car to warm up, there were just four of us left on the beach—a smaller crowd than last week, but still good company for a beach morning.

    I got in pretty quickly, and swam to the big jetty to the east and back, about 700 meters. The tide was extremely low, and the water had an opaque orangy cast to it today. It took a while before I felt anything besides the initial pins-and-needles sensation in my face, hands, and feet that swimming in water this cold brings, but eventually that faded a bit and I felt a pleasant warmth in my shoulders, face, and torso. On the way back from the jetty the current was against me a bit, and the water turned a bit choppier, but the swimming never felt difficult, just different. I watched the landmarks on shore and was reassured that I was making good progress the whole time despite the current. When I reached my starting point I was feeling good, and was tempted to continue on westward, but I could feel my hands stiffening up. I feared that if I extended my swim I might not have the dexterity to be able to get dressed without help once I reached shore. (Not that there wouldn’t be help there if needed—we swam in shifts today, and tend to look out for each other in general—but there are some things I like to be able to do for myself.)

    So I came ashore, and was able to shed the swim swimsuit and pile on the layers quickly, before any shivering set in. Before I had gotten in I had arranged my clothes for speed dressing—hat on top, then neck gaiter, towel, wool camisole, wool shirt, fingerless gloves, second shirt, sweater, changing skirt, long underwear, wool pants, parka, scarf, mittens—and it paid off. I’ve never done triathlons, but I suppose this is a more layered version of the planning and packing triathletes must do for their transitions.

    Once dressed, I jogged around on the beach and enjoyed the sensations of rewarming. I shivered a bit, but not too hard, and enjoyed the beautiful day as I sat and chatted with friends, drinking hot ginger tea and slurping soup. After lunch, I spread out a second blanket and went through a short stretching routine—rewarming after a cold swim always seems to help my flexibility. The day never warmed up as much as we had hoped, but whenever the wind calmed down the sun felt glorious. Finally it was time to head home, so I packed up and enjoyed a quick subway ride back to the city with a couple of my swim companions. I’m glad beach season has returned!
  2. With a smile and a ribbon . . .

    This morning I swam at Riverbank with a couple of friends, plus a hundred thousand other folks. It was crowded, in part because one of the pool my team and others uses for regular workouts, John Jay, has been closed this week. The combination of crowded lanes and my general listlessness made for an uninspired workout. Worse, my two pals were diligently swimming 700s, so I couldn’t even catch them at the wall very often for chatting. Luckily there were plenty of other swimmers I knew up there who were feeling social, so I got in some frequent talking breaks during the following:

    700 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 100p)

    500 FR, with speed-play
    600 FR with some backstroke lengths
    [Here I gave up on the everlasting would-be 700s and decided to try some sprinting instead.]

    12 x 50 (25 sprint, 25 easy): odds K, evens S, 1-4 FL, 5-8 BK, 9-12 FR

    10 x 100 very gentle swimming [These felt really good.]

    I blame the big pink ribbon in my pull buoy for inducing the following ear worm this morning, which I initially found annoying. But somewhere during the sprint set my annoyance with this cloying song grew so great that I had to laugh, and so I eventually ended up (yes) smiling to myself as the song played on in my head during the last half of my swim. Here it is, for everyone else’s enjoyment:

    Earlier this week I planned to order some more swimsuits for the spring, but I made myself clean out my swimsuit drawer to see what I had first. Big mistake—I think my next swimsuit purchase will be a couple of age groups down the road. (But maybe I can use that hypothetical money I will save to buy one of these fabulous mermaid tails!) For years I had a bad habit of buying grab-bag suits, then tucking the ones I didn’t like away for “later." Luckily, tastes change, and I was able to find a few that I like now, or that somehow just got lost in the shuffle. Another discovery—worries about lycra material deteriorating whether you wear suits or not seems to be overblown. Maybe it does—I have a friend in the fashion industry who recommends keeping unworn suits in the freezer—but the process must take a while. I found one suit with a Goodwill Games 1998 logo on it that seemed to be just fine. Of course, it’s a zip-back suit, and I don’t play polo anymore, so I’m not sure when I’ll wear it, but the material seems to have held up well.

    So today's new suit was all vivid blues and greens, with big flowers on it—I am willing spring to be here by wearing the brightest colors I can, but the weather is not listening. I feel like the anti-Grinch, whose best efforts to make the season arrive are stymied by grumpy cold winds that just won’t go away. But I’m going to win out in the end—and indeed might be already, as it’s turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon. Here’s to the power of flowery swimsuits!

    Updated April 5th, 2013 at 03:58 PM by swimsuit addict

  3. Back at the beach

    Today I went out to Brighton for my first CIBBOWS swim of the season. The water has been slow to warm up this year—it was just 39-40 today. (Last year we had gotten up to 50 by this time.) My “swim” was more like a brief dip, but then I spent a couple of hours out on the beach enjoying the beautiful sunny day. I counted 16 of us out swimming today, for durations ranging from half a minute to half an hour. It was a nice way to begin the season. Looking forward to some longer swims as the water begins warming up and I begin to reacclimate to swimming in colder temps.

    Updated March 30th, 2013 at 06:08 PM by swimsuit addict

  4. Recovery day

    I had a good diving session last night, learning two new skills: an inward tuck dive off the 1m, and a forward tuck dive off the 3m. The latter is the first actual dive I’ve done off the higher board—til now the beginners have stuck to various line-ups (falling down headfirst from standing or sitting positions) and approaches. Doing the forward tuck was just a matter of getting up my nerve and being told I was allowed to, as it is a skill I’m very comfortable with on the lower board. It went fine from the get-go. The speed with which I can travel through the water upon entering from that height is still one of my favorite parts of diving—maybe I’m still a swimmer at heart. I wish the pool were deeper so I could enjoy that longer!

    The inward dive was a little trickier. After doing the build-up skills, I was still a little tentative on my first few, and managed to do just a quarter rotation, landing on the water on all fours. After a bit I got the hang of entering headfirst, and could reliably do a legal inward by the end of the session, though not a pretty one. I need to work on getting more height on my back approach and on getting my hips up on the tuck, so that I can have more time in the air to come fully and gracefully out of that tuck position.

    Some Friday mornings after diving I feel like a truck hit me—I think it’s a combination of the impacts with the water the night before, muscle soreness from the explosive movements, and the unaccustomed late activity and resulting sleep deprivation. But this morning I was able to sleep in, and felt fairly good when I woke up—maybe my body is finally adapting to doing this every week. I got in an easy swim at the Y today in that magic 1-2 pm hour when no one much is around. Here’s what I did:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)

    1000 various drills (working on early breathing and balance)

    That was it. Afterwards I had a leisurely stretching session upstairs in the gym, which felt wonderful.

    Tomorrow morning I’m attending a diving clinic upstate. There we’ll be able to use belts on the boards, so I’m hoping to pick up a few more skills.
  5. Saturday team workout

    This morning I went to floor/barre class (a ballet-centric core and legs workout). It was my first in quite a while, so I expect I’ll be sore for the next few days.

    This afternoon TNYA had an all-women’s workout and social. Called “Ladies Who Swim and Lunch,” it brought together women from our polo, swim, and diving teams, plus any other women interested in swimming with TNYA, for an hour-long swim workout plus an outing to a nearby Greek restaurant afterwards. Ours is a big team—around 600 last I knew—and we have 18 swim workouts a week in 4 different pools spread over the city, plus polo and diving workouts in yet different facilities, so there are plenty of people I never see outside of competitions and social events. Plus women are a distinct minority on our team, so it was nice to get many of us together at this one very social workout—we had a very full pool. Here’s what my lane did:

    500 warmup (100s, 100k, 100 stroke, 200 fr)

    9 x 50 (3 FR / 3 BK / 3 FR) @ :45/:50/:45

    4 x 100 FR @ 1:30
    1 x 100 IM @ 1:40
    Masters minute
    3 x 100 FR @ 1:30
    2 x 100 IM @ 1:40
    Masters minute
    2 x 200 FR @ 3:00
    2 x 100 FR @ 1:25
    1 x 100 IM @ 1:35
    100 warmdown

    I had a good diving session Thursday night. I learned one new dive—a front layout dive with a half twist. It’s not as consistent as my others, and needs more work. This makes 4 of the 6 dives on my first competition list that I have learned: front dive, back dive, front flip, and front dive with twist. I have 2 more to learn—inward dive, and back flip. Once I get those down I will have perhaps the easiest competition list possible, but it’s a start. And I acquired no new bruises this week—always a plus!
  6. Peaches and IMs

    This morning I swam at Riverbank with a couple of friends and enjoyed a good workout with them. We must have made the following set look fun--one of the regulars in the neighboring lane dubbed us “the trio with brio.” (He’s the same guy who came up with “It goggles the mind.” It’s fun sharing the pool with nice people who like wordplay.)

    Here’s what I did:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)

    500 FR, negative split
    400 IM fast
    100 easy
    400 FR, negative split
    300 IM fast
    100 easy
    300 FR, negative split
    200 IM fast
    100 easy
    200 FR negative split
    100 IM fast
    100 easy
    100 FR negative split
    0 IM fast [I used this time to practice my synchro moves*]
    100 easy
    [This set originally had paired FR swims separated by 100s easy—I substituted an (n-100) IM for the n FR in each pair, but stayed on the same interval as my friends who were doing all free. That worked out well—I liked getting more and more rest as the set progressed, and my IMs felt powerful today.]

    400 there-and-back-again IM kick (200 IM + 200 reverse IM)

    200 warmdown + play

    *The synchro moves at today’s workout were inspired by the Brooklyn Peaches practices I’ve been attending the last couple of weeks. They are a for-fun synchro group—think synchro without any of the unpleasant stuff, like having to hold your breath for eons. It’s a smidge more serious than beach synchro, mostly because it’s taught by a couple of women who actually have some background in the sport. We’re learning a routine to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” It’s a real hoot, and worth trekking out to Brooklyn for every Tuesday night.

    The Peaches practices are part of an effort to diversify what I do for exercise this spring. I finally admitted to myself over the winter that I had become pretty burnt-out with open-water stuff, and that the anxiety associated with those swims had come to rival the pleasure I got from them. I floundered about for a bit, initially thinking entering some pool competitions would restore my motivation to train, but I ultimately decided that what I really needed was a break. So I’m de-emphasizing the swimming for now, and trying out other stuff that seems fun to me. Activities that involve learning lots of complex new movements are especially appealing. Currently my night-time schedule looks like this: Monday—ballet, Tuesday—synchro, Thursday—diving. (I thought I could wedge in adult gymnastics on Wednesdays as well, but my gym has stopped offering that class). I’m also emphasizing weights (3x week) and stretching (more flexibility would be good for my diving). So far, this new regimen seems to agree with me—after a couple of months of taking it easy on the swimming in Florida, I seem to be finding some joy and ease in the water again.
  7. Back to swimming before sunrise!

    I enjoyed a very pleasant workout at Riverbank this morning with a friend. After a couple straight days of doing team practices, I was due for a nice long easy swim, and that's exactly what I got, as I did the following with no intervals or clock-watching, just a nice steady pace throughout:

    1100 LCM warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 d/s, 100 IM)

    500 FR
    4 x 50 (2 kick w/fins, 2 swim)
    500 (200 FR / 100 IM kick / 200 FR)
    4 x 50, IM order
    500 (150 FR / 200 IM kick / 150 FR)
    4 x 50, IM order
    500 (100 FR / 300 IM kick / 100 FR)
    4 x 50, odds BK, evens FR
    500 (50 FR / 400 IM kick / 50 FR)

    That was it. I felt calm and relaxed and at home in the water today, and wanted to stay in longer. It was a good feeling.

    DST has us going to practice in the dark again. Here's my pre-workout view of the George Washington Bridge, last Monday and today:

    last week--view upriver

    the effects of springing forward

    I'm not complaining--they're both an inspiring way to begin the day. But I am looking forward to watching that latter view become the former again over the next few weeks. Hurray for spring, and lengthening days!
  8. Weekend Workouts

    I had two good workouts this weekend with TNYA. On Saturday I swam at John Jay College. We were six in our scy lane, but everyone was friendly and of similar speeds so it turned out to be one of those energizing crowded workouts with good esprit de lane.

    1000 warmup

    10 x 50 FR @ (1:10--1:05--1:00, 1:10--1:00--:50, 1:10--:55--:40, 1:10)

    6 x 100 kick @ 2:15, 2x thru FL/BK, BK/BR, BR/FR [1:40-1:45]

    4 x 100 pull w/paddles @ 1:25
    50 easy @ 2:00
    100 FR fast @ 1:15
    50 easy @ 1:45
    3 x 100 pull w/paddles @ 1:25
    50 easy @ 2:00
    100 FR fast @ 1:15
    50 easy @ 1:45

    [Set continued on with through two more rounds, but I had to get out early.]

    Today I enjoyed a nice workout at City College. The water was much too warm, but the pool was relatively uncrowded, which is rare with team workouts. I moved down from a lane of 5 to share with one other swimmer, and enjoyed using the slower intervals in order to push my pace on some of the swims. Here's how it went:

    500 warmup (400s, 100k)

    6 x 50 BR working pullouts @ :20 RI
    6 x 50 BK with fins (25K / 25S) @ :20 RI
    6 x 50 FR with fins @ :20 RI, desc. 1-3 and 4-6

    400 pull with paddles @ 6:15
    [practiced left-side breathing]
    4 x 100 IM fast @ 2:00
    [goal was to keep all under 1:25, and I did--fastest was 1:20]
    8 x 50 (25 kick / 25 swim), easy, @ 1:15
    [nice to have the slower interval on these to cool down--I switched to my ventilated cap here and that helped too]
    300 pull with paddles @ 4:45
    [left-side breathing]
    3 x 100 IM fast @ 2:00
    [2:23s and a 2:24]
    6 x 50 (25 kick / 25 swim) warmdown

    That was it!

    I've been back in the city a week, and was very happy to resume diving practice last Thursday night. I'm making good progress, and need to learn 3 more dives so that I can compete at an upcoming meet. I'm definitely eager, and have lost some of that initial fear of going off the boards. I did smack for the first time this past week--water is surprisingly hard when you hit it wrong--but luckily it was only from the 1m, and only on my shins (I was trying to do a back dive tuck, but kicked out too late and ended up almost doing a back flip, hitting the water awkwardly shins first). It hurt, but didn't keep me from getting back up and trying again. The resulting bruises somehow go more than 180 degrees around my lower legs--not sure how that happened from a single impact.

    I'm also back coaching some with TNYA now. I had been a regular weekly coach for them some years ago, but after 6 years or so of that decided I needed a break. The invitation to rejoin the coaching staff came last fall just as I was feeling a little guilty for not giving back to the swimming community more, and casting about for a way to do so that didn't involve attending meetings--I'm allergic to those. I put off starting until I was back from the Florida, so last Thursday was my first morning back on deck. I also subbed in for the team's weekly LPZ workout on Saturday, after swimming the regular workout. So far I'm really enjoying it, and am finding that giving technique feedback gives me added focus in my own workouts. It's also something of a confidence boost to feel like I have knowledge and experience that can help others. For now I'm just subbing for other coaches when they can't make their regular practices. That situation seems pretty ideal--since we have 18 workouts a week, that means I can do as much or as little as I'm inclined to do, without making a regular commitment yet.
  9. Rainy LCM workout

    After an extended relaxing/dreamy/lazy weekend, I decided it was time to get back to work in the pool today. And there’s nothing like a drive through the dark cold rain to drive home the point that I’m actually somewhat serious about this swimming stuff—not because I’m willing to put up with such conditions to get to masters workout, but because there was absolutely nothing I could think of that I’d rather be doing than swimming a workout outdoors in those conditions! Luckily—that one black-eyed pea I left on my plate on New Year’s must have been working—the pool was open, and was set up long course, and Coach Phil was on deck with his umbrella, ready and enthusiastic.

    Air temps were in the 40s, but the pool was quite warm, around 82. I started the workout under the stadium lights, against which the predawn sky seemed pitch black. Gradually the sky lightened, the rain stopped, and I enjoyed watching clouds move across the sky as I did backstroke. Here’s how the workout went:

    500 lcm warmup

    8 x 50, odds drill, evens build [I did 2 each stroke IM order]

    Happy New Year’s set—lucky 13
    13 x 150, done as

    • 4 descend [FR/BK/FR sandwiches @ 2:45, went 2:20 on fastest]
    • 1 easy
    • 3 descend [IM minus FR @ 3:00, went 2:40 on fastest
    • 1 easy
    • 2 descend [backstroke sandwiches again, 2:17]
    • 1 easy
    • 1 descend [IM – FR, 2:36]

    50 easy

    6 x 100 (50 kick / 50 swim with kick)

    300 warmdown + play

    I would have liked to stay in longer, but higher on the agenda today was a drive up to Alabama to visit my relatives. Looking forward to more LCM swimming next week!
  10. Fish are jumping . . .

    Today I had two swims, both short, but both very satisfying. Around lunchtime I went for a swim in the gulf, doing what is becoming my “usual,” a mile roundtrip to the beach flag and back. I managed to get in just as the sun was beginning to make its way through an overcast sky, and the water was a very milky green in the pale light. There were some gentle swells out beyond the sandbar, and I enjoyed the sensation of being suspended in an emerald bath as I stroked gently along. It was a very peaceful, lulling swim. The water temp seems to have risen since I dipped on New Year’s day, and although it felt chilly getting in, once I was swimming I didn’t think about being cold or warm, or really much of anything, as I moseyed along.

    The air temp was around 60, without much wind, so getting out wasn’t a problem—everything seemed very pleasant today. Later on I went to the pool—open again after a 3-day closure—and enjoyed a nice session of easy drills. The water there was quite warm after being covered for 3 days, but since I wasn’t aiming to do a hard workout that was ok. The college team from IUPUI is in town for their winter training trip, and the kids were wearing some fantastic swimsuits—lots of neon polka dots, especially on the guys.

    Then this evening as I was walking on the beach at sunset I saw something really cool—a ray leapt repeatedly out of the water, going about 2 feet above the surface every 5 seconds or so. It looked like a dark stone skipping in slow motion across the surface, but with its wings beating in the air. It was just beyond the sandbar when it started, and continued until it got about 2/3 of the way to the second sandbar. I stopped and watched it, then noticed a couple of other rays in the breaking surf, about 10 yards or so away from shore. I waited for some more jumping action, but didn’t see any, so I went back up to the condo. From the balcony there we could see the outlines of several dark rays as they swam very close to the water’s edge, in the space between the sand and the first sandbar where the waves were breaking. I watched until the light grew dim. So many amazing things to see out there!
  11. Happy Birthday (in meters) to us all!

    There is a so-called polar bear swim here in Walton County—if you can call an event that takes place in conditions that would melt an actual polar bear that—but this year it got cancelled because of surf and currents. I went in for my own private New Year’s Day swim anyway, enjoying a mile barefoot run on the sand before a brief dip this morning. Winds were brisk from the southeast, but the air was warm, low-70s already by mid-morning. I didn’t swim much, just played and let the waves toss me around for a bit before heading in. It was a good way to start the new year!

  12. Where dolphins swim

    The weather down here usually involves tradeoffs. You can have warm, but that usually also means wet and/or windy, or you can have chilly, which usually brings brilliant sunshine. I prefer the latter, because it means very swimmable conditions in the gulf, with the colder north wind creating very calm water conditions in my south-facing beach. (Since the water is fairly shallow, strong winds from the south can make for surf that breaks unpredictably until you get a couple of hundred yards out, and they can also blow in massive man-of-war invasions).

    And cold and clear is exactly what I got today. Shortly after sunrise I could see mist rising up from the gulf, there being that much difference between the water temps (around 60) and air temps (around 30). While I was sitting on the balcony admiring the view I noticed a pod of dolphins swimming and bobbing in the water in front of me. They stayed between the first and second sandbars—ie where I swim when I venture in--and were moving back and forth very slowly. I watched them for about 20 minutes before they moved further down the beach.

    By early afternoon the air had warmed up to the 50s, and the water was very calm, almost glassy.

    View to the east

    I decided it was time to go for a swim. I was expecting water temps in the low-60s, but double capped and wore earplugs just in case. I was glad I did, because the water seemed a little chillier than that. I swam the same mile-plus course as last week, down to the beach flag to the east, then back. I swam a little further out from shore than last time, hoping to avoid any hooks and lines from the guys who were surfcasting. The water was more blue than green today, and a little cloudier than last week—I could see the bottom, but couldn’t make out the shrimp tunnels or furrows on it once I got out to swimmable depths.

    It was easy going both ways—there was some wind from the north, more noticeable in the water than on the beach, which is sheltered by a 30-foot bluff, but there were no waves or swells. It almost felt like swimming in a big pool. I swam with less skittishness today than last week, and halfway hoped I would see the dolphins that had swum in the same area this morning. I didn’t though, nor did I see any skates, although the mermaids’ purses I saw washed up on the sand suggest they’re out there somewhere. The water felt cold on my skin the whole time, but I never felt cold inside, just happy to be out swimming under the welcoming sun. I stayed in and floated on my back a little after I was done, then waded the 50m or so over the sandbar to get back on shore. It was a good day.
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  13. Gulf swim

    Today I enjoyed a very fun swim in the gulf. It was an overcast day, with a brisk wind out of the southeast, and air temps in the mid-50s. The gulf had been calm in the morning, but was developing some rolling wind-induced waves as I was getting prepared to swim in the early afternoon. I got ready up at the condo, then wore just my suit and parka down to the sand. Once there, I quickly put on my cap and goggles and headed into the surf.

    One of the difficult things about swimming here on cold days is that you have to go past the first sandbar to swim at all. So you head into the cold water, brave it up to your thighs to chest, depending on where the tide is, then reemerge into the cold blustery air as you walk over the sandbar (usually less than knee deep) before getting to water that is reliably deep enough to swim in. To top it off, that first water you hit is usually quite cold—I’d estimate mid-50s or so today. Once past the sandbar, though, the water gets deep enough to plunge into and swim, and is also warmer as well (the shallower water is more affected by air temps). So the getting-in portion of my swims, which is drawn-out and tortured enough at Brighton, is probably even worse down here.

    But once I was out past the sandbar and stroking along, the water was fairly comfortable—probably low- to mid-60s. I swam east towards the nearest beach flag, a little over a half-mile away. At first, swimming into the wind, I felt like I was being battered by chop, and resigned myself to a difficult trip out. But after about 100 yards I relaxed and began to enjoy the ocean tossing me around, and eventually felt like I was playing with the water rather than swimming against it.

    Often I get skittish down here swimming by myself. Today I sometimes felt uneasy, but I did a good job of telling myself to just put my head down and swim, and of minding those instructions. The water was very clear, and I could see the white sandy bottom the whole way. It sloped off to the right, and I alternated between wanting to swim further out to see what was there (nothing but more furrowed sandy bottom, as it turned out), and longing to head closer to shore where I felt more secure. (Further out also meant warmer and less bumpy water, so there were multiple incentives to conquer my skittishness.) I think I zigzagged more than usual out to my turnaround point.

    The way back was easy, with waves pushing me from behind, although I had to be careful they didn’t push me too far in. I could see people walking along the beach, and watched the familiar buildings pass by as I headed back to my starting place. I saw no signs of wildlife other than the funnel-shaped outcroppings that mark the entrances to tunnel shrimp burrows. At one point when I had gotten a little close to shore I spotted something odd ahead, and stopped and walked carefully around it. It was a stray buoy, about 20 yards from shore, anchored by something buried underneath the sand—I didn’t dig down to see what. The buoy was bearded with algae, and at first glance I was worried that it was a dead bird floating in the waves. I’m glad it wasn’t.

    Soon I was back at my starting point. I floated a bit, and looked around, happy to be surrounded by the green-blue water that was reflecting the grayness of today’s sky. Then, feeling a bit chilled, I headed back up to the condo, where a pot of hot tea and a warm shower awaited.

    A couple of hours after my swim I walked the same stretch of beach, and found a single man-of-war washed ashore. I hope he’s not the advance scout for an invasion! I only see them when there’s sustained wind from the south, which there was today. Other wildlife sightings today included a great blue heron that flew in and perched on the beach right in front of the condo this morning. I love watching those ungainly creatures take off and land, and then delicately work their way along the strand..

    Tomorrow is supposed to be very windy and stormy—I’m not sure if I’ll get to swim at all. That’s probably just as well, as I have a lot of cooking and prep to do for Christmas dinner. My relatives’ increasing age and frailty means that we’re no longer able to celebrate the holiday at the beach, but I’m proud that they still let me cook for them, even though that means hauling a dinner’s worth of food up to Alabama Tuesday morning. Today I cooked the eggbread for the dressing, and tomorrow’s weather looks perfect for finishing up the rest of Christmas dinner prep. Cue the carols!
  14. No Doominess Here!

    I awoke with a marvelous idea for today’s solo workout--inspired by Ellen and James, I would try out That Guy’s IM Chasm of Doom. But after reviewing the set, and thinking that it really seemed like an awful lot of fly (duh!), I decided that I would tweak it to make it more Janet-suitable. The Total IM Eclipse was the result. The first half follows the Chasm, except for the friendlier intervals, but on the way back up the first obscured is the first to reappear, just like a lunar or solar eclipse.

    Air temps were in the low-40s when I arrived at the pool midmorning, and the wind was blowing strong, which made judging backstroke turns interesting—I had to subtract 1 stroke from my usual count on one end, and add one on the other. But the sun was brilliant, and I gloried in getting to swim outdoors, with a cloudless blue sky as my roof. Here’s how my workout went:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)

    Total Eclipse of the IM
    200 IM
    50 FL / 50 BK / 50 BR / 25 FR
    50 FL / 50 BK / 50 BR
    50 FL / 50 BK / 25 BR
    50 FL / 50 BK
    50 FL / 25 BK
    50 FL
    25 FL
    Masters minute (“the essence of the eclipse which was its perfect darkness”)
    25 FR
    50 FR
    25 BR / 50 FR
    50 BR / 50 FR
    25 BK / 50 BR / 50 FR
    50 BK / 50 BR / 50 FR
    25 FL / 50 BK / 50 BK / 50 FR
    200 IM for time [2:47]
    Intervals: I went on 1 second /yard + :10 on the way down, and on 1 second/yard on the way back up.

    100 easy

    Kick set
    50 FL kick
    100 BK (50 K / 50 S)
    150 BR (50 K / 50 S / 50 K)
    200 FR (50 K / 50 S / 50 K / 50 S)
    Kicks were moderate fast, swims easy

    8 x 200:
    Odds = FR pull with paddles
    Evens = FR/BK halfsies
    [Goal of this set was to work on breathing timing and earlier rotation, backstroke was easy reward for 300y of focusing.]

    200 warmdown + play

    That was it! By the time I got out around noon the morning’s strong winds had died down, but it was still in the 40s. I ended up staying in longer than I had planned because the pool was so pleasant, and everyone who got out earlier seemed so cold.

    In the afternoon I played in the gulf. The water near shore was in the high-50s, but out just 50-75 yards or so it seemed a comfortable mid-60s. Since what wind there was was out of the north, the waves were tamped down, and the surface was almost glassy. I hope to swim in the gulf more over the next few days, since the pool will be closed until after Christmas.
  15. Florida

    I arrived in northwest Florida on Tuesday, and was happy to land in lovely 70s-and-sunny weather. That lasted for a day and a half, and I was lucky to get in a short swim in the beautiful green Gulf yesterday in nearly perfect conditions—water in the mid-60s, very clear, gentle waves, sunny skies. Today the storms rolled in, and air temps are supposed to drop 40+ degrees tonight into more seasonable ranges for the next week. I got to watch an impressive storm over the gulf mid-day today. I love the beach here in any weather, and feel very grateful to get to spend some time down this way over the holidays. And this year I was soooo ready to be out of the city and in a warmer, calmer place.

    I’ve swum at my beloved Panama City Beach Aquatic Center every day since I arrived. After several years of low attendance, they finally reduced their winter hours, cutting the LCM morning lap swim to just twice a week, and closing altogether on Sunday. The good news is that there are masters workouts once again—6 a week---and I worked out with the team last night and this morning. It’s wonderful to be swimming outdoors again.

    Last night’s workout went like this:

    500 scy early warmup on my own (400s, 100k)

    2nd warmup with team: 3 x 200, 1 swim 1 kick 1 pull

    12 x 50 (fast from walls to mid-pool, easy from mid-pool to walls), odds K, evens S, @ :20 RI

    5 x 200 CH @ 3:30, desc. 1-3, 4 easy, 5 fast
    [I did all FR, and went 2:58, 2:43, 2:33 (instructions were to descend big!), then 2:26 on last (goal was under 2:30).]

    4 x 100 wd w/breathing pattern

    This morning was too grey for a proper sunrise, but it was still cool to watch the sky get lighter as I did the following:

    500 lcm warmup

    4 x 150 desc. @ :20 RI [I did FR/BK/FR sandwiches]

    3x thru—all on :10-:20 RI
    200 long easy swim, emphasizing dps
    4 x 50 K fast
    4 x 50 swim, odds fast (integrating kick from previous 50s), evens ez
    [Did 1st round FR, 2nd BK, 3rd IM]

    100 easy

    Then on my own

    4 x 150 FR/ST/FR sandwich, ST = IM order

    700 wd with lots of play

    It’s been fun to see all my Florida swimming friends—every trip to the pool has been a chance to catch up with seasonal swim buddies whom I haven’t seen since last February.

    Today I signed up for TNYA’s One Hour Swim event on January 26. There’s a little over a month to get in shape. I’m aiming for 4500y this year. I have some work to do.

    Safe travels to everyone hitting the road (or the skies or rails) for travel over the holidays!
  16. Foggy beach day

    I had a wonderful swim at a fogged-in Brighton Beach today. The air temp was around 50, and the water felt a degree or two colder than last week. There were just a half-dozen of us out in the drizzly weather today, but the swimming was cold and glorious. The squawks of the seagulls were accompanied by the foghorns out in the shipping channel and we prepped to get in. I got in slowly, then swam for about 20 minutes, heading westward against the current to one of the jetties before turning around for a quick trip back. The water was fairly clear, and I loved how the spooky misty air seemed to envelope me as I swam along.

    When I got back to my starting place I wanted to stay in, but knew I should probably get out, as my hands and feet were getting a little numb. So I did, and was able to get dressed before the shivering and teeth chattering set in. Neither was too violent today, but it did seem to take a long time to warm up—probably because there was no sun helping with the process. But eventually the shivering worked its warming magic, and I was able to enjoy a bit of time on the beach before heading back home on the subway. I love winter swimming!

    Good luck to everyone swimming in meets this weekend!
  17. Fun Friday

    This morning I enjoyed a fun Riverbank workout with Rondi, Hannah, and John. It’s a quick turnaround from Thursday night diving, which ends at 10pm out in the far reaches of Queens, and the 6:30 am opening of Riverbank in West Harlem, but the chance to swim with friends this morning and breakfast after was worth the abbreviated sleep. Here’s what I did:

    300 lcm warmup

    5 x 200 swim > kick pacman: 200s, 50k/150s, 100k/100s, 150k/50s, 200k [These were more like 175s for me, as I took the opportunity to practice my mid-pool turning technique in order to keep up.]

    IM reunion set
    800, done as 4 x (150 fr / 50 st), with st = IM order
    600, done as 4 x (100 fr / 50 st), with st = IM order
    400, done as 4 x (50 fr / 50 st), with st = IM order
    200 IM
    [Took 10-20 seconds rest between swims. I was finally feeling good in the water by the end of this set.]

    Then came the belated birthday set: a 47m backwards (feet-first) IM. I led this set! It was fun watching everyone’s progress as they worked their way down the pool. By the time we finished there were swimmers in the adjacent lane trying to swim backwards, and the lifeguard was just shaking his head, as if we had contaged the entire pool.

    300 warmdown + play

    Diving last night was a blast. I learned two new skills. I fell off the 3m springboard backwards—on purpose! I’d been doing this forwards for several practices, and we learned the reverse version last night. Basically, you stand backwards on the very end of the board with your heels hanging off, then rise up on your tippy toes. Keeping your body rigid, you fall backwards. Once you reach horizontal, you put your hands above your head, and end up entering the water in a nice hollowed-out diving position (“hollowed-out” being to diving what streamlined is to swimming). It worked almost perfectly for me the first time. Our beginner group also graduated from doing simply tuck dives to pike dives off the 1m. And the timing on my hurdles (approaches) is definitely getting better. Onwards and upwards!
  18. Un-birthday workout

    Today’s my birthday, but I decided to forego the obligatory 47-themed workout for the following mellow swim at the Y. I wasn’t sure I wanted to swim at all—morning workout plus late diving practice on Thursdays can bookend a looong day—but in the end I decided I did want to get in at least a few birthday laps. Here’s what I did:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 d/s)

    4 x 75 k/d/s @ 1:20, IM order

    20 x 100 FR:
    4 @ 1:35
    3 @ 1:30
    2 @ 1:25
    1 @ 1:20
    4 @ 1:30
    3 @ 1:25
    2 @ 1:20
    1 @ 1:15

    300 warmdown + play

    That was it! Looking forward to diving tonight!
  19. Mid-day IM interlude

    Today I enjoyed a mid-day solo workout at the Y:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200s, 200d/s)

    8 x 75
    2 x 75 FR @ 1:15
    2 x 75 FR/FR/BR @ 1:20
    2 x 75 FR/BK/BR @ 1:25
    2 x 75 FL/BK/BR @ 1:30
    All freestyle = moderate pace with bilat breathing; on other strokes, on odds aim for pretty, on evens go fast

    100 easy

    IM set
    1 x 50 FL, fast, @ :50
    1 x 200 IM easy-mod @ 3:30
    2 x 50 BK @ :50, desc.
    1 x 200 IM easy-mod @ 3:30
    3 x 50 BR @ :55, desc.
    1 x 200 IM easy-mod @ 3:30
    4 x 50 FR @ :50, desc.
    1 x 200 IM easy @ 3:30
    [Goal was to descend each set of 50s to 200 IM race pace. I went :37, :36, :41, :32. Once I did the math and discovered those added up to 2:26, which is probably way faster than I could go right now, I was happier with my swims here.]

    300 warmdown + play
  20. Riverbank morning

    I had a nice swim at Riverbank this morning. The water was cooler, and I got to share a lane with Rondi and Andrew. Here’s what I did:

    1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d/s)

    10 x 50 FR: 3 @ :55, 3 @ :50, 3 @ :45, 1 easy

    200 FR @ 3:30
    1 x 100 FR @ 1:30
    200 FR pull w/paddles @ 3:30
    2 x 100 FR @ 1:30
    200 FR pull w/paddles @ 3:30
    3 x 100 FR, odds @ 1:30, even @ 1:35
    200 FR pull w/paddles @ 3:30
    4 x 100 FR, odds @ 1:30, evens @ 1:35
    [I was hoping to do 1:30s on all the 100s, but that turned out to be a little too ambitious.]

    200 easy swim
    100 upside-down IM

    10 x 50 (25 sprint, 25 easy) @ plenty-of-rest, sprinty parts done 3 fly, 3 back, 3 breast, 1 free

    350 warmdown + play

    I signed up for the Asphalt Green mini-meet this coming Sunday evening, opting for a lineup of it’s-good-to-be-a-masters-swimmer events: 50 FL, 50 BK, 50 BR, and 100 IM. Should be a fun time, and a chance to finally see some of my meet buddies who swim for other area teams!
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