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  1. Thoughts from the Past Few Days....

    by , July 12th, 2011 at 12:04 PM (Year Three: The Road Back)
    Life just gets really busy all of a sudden, doesn't it? Sorry I haven't posted anything since last Friday....

    On Saturday, I did my very first Open Water swim. Our team had an open water practice that began with one of our coaches going over open water tips and techniques (including drafting and sighting) before letting us loose on the lake. I must say, I liked the open water swim much more than I had anticipated - and am really looking forward to the next open water practice. Then, in a really dumb move, I ended up going to the team's pool practice - and spent much of the afternoon napping. Two practices in one day - haven't done that since the February Fitness Challenge ended. It definitely tuckered me out. All told, it was about 5100 meters (not much to some of you... a bunch to me ).

    When Monday rolled around, I headed to the pool as always, but was slightly disappointed to find it still set up for SCY. Today's workout focused on IM - and I decided to wear my fins for a lot of it, but I did take them off for the backstroke at the end. Then, during my cool-down, I worked with my coach on my breaststroke kick for a few minutes. There must be hope for me yet because he keeps saying "almost there" - I just doing go anywhere yet. Oh well, here's what we did on Monday:

    300 Warm-Up
    2 sets:
    - 1 x 150 Kick
    - 1 x 200 Swim (1st as free, 2nd w/ fins as 50 Breast/50 Free)
    8 x 50 Drill/Swim on 1:05
    6 x 200 IM (w/ fins)
    4 x 50 Back (w/o fins) on 1:05
    4 x 50 Free on 1:05
    300 Cool-Down
    Total Yards - 3300

    Today (and for the rest of the summer), the pool will be set for LCM. YAY! Today's practice was distance focused, but I shortened some of the distances and did a bunch of stroke instead. Here's what I did today:

    200 Warm-Up
    1 x 500 Free on 10:00
    1 x 300 on 5:00 (50 fly, 50 sdk, 50 back, 50 back kick, 50 breast, 50 free - w/ fins)
    2 x 250 on 5:00 (50 fly, 50 sdk, 50 back, 50 back kick, 50 breast - w/ fins)
    1 x 500 Pull on 10:00
    2 x 250 on 5:00 (50 fly, 50 sdk, 50 back, 50 back kick, 50 breast - w/ fins)
    1 x 500 Pull on 10:00
    1 x 300 on 5:00 (50 fly, 50 sdk, 50 back, 50 back kick, 50 fly, 50 free - w/ fins)
    300 Cool-Down
    Total Meters - 3600

    It was just fun today. I am really enjoying doing stroke and wanted to focus on that. It was, however, absolutely exhausting and my shoulders are definitely still feeling my efforts in the pool hours ago.

    Oh well... live, learn, and swim!
    Swim Workouts
  2. Tuesday workout

    by , July 12th, 2011 at 11:14 AM (Pete's swim blog)
    Not much special today. Worked a lot with breast stroke pull. Trying to get a good feel for where my hands need to be.


    600 Free/Stroke warm up
    300 Kick

    600 IM Order down/free back

    12 x 100 Odds IM order drill down/Stroke back, Evens free
    4 x 50 Stroke (2 Easy/2 hard)

    Three times through
    * 2 x 50 Stroke (#1 Fly, #2 Back, #3 Breast)
    * 200 (#1 Pull, #2 Kick, #3 Drill)
    * 2 x 50 Stroke (#1 Fly, #2 Back, #3 Breast)
    4 x 50 Free (2 easy/2 hard)

    3 x 200 Breast Smooth/Fast work on walls

    9 x 100 Pull - Odds Breast, Evens Free

    200 IM Cool down

    (6000m total)
  3. Tue Jul 12th 2011 LCM

    by , July 12th, 2011 at 10:43 AM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    Tue Jul 12th 2011 LCM

    weighed 216 after practice today

    Doubled yesterday
    did straight 200's on the 4 x 50 repeats,
    on 2nd round dove &
    went 2:21, 2:20, 2:21, 2:18
    got out after 2nd round of 4 x 50's
    skipped the 2nd 400 to make an appointment

    This past Sunday I found out my gym closed.
    I'll start lifting at another place.

    South Central LCM Zones: DAYS AWAY
    I leave for Houston next Thursday.
    meet starts Friday at 4:00

    Subscribe to Ande's Swimming Blog

    Whitney Coached
    UT, main pool
    6:00 - 7:30 dove in 6:08
    wore FS PRO legs
    swam with Chris, Todd, mike, & Nate
    beside Larry & Jim

    4 x 200

    Main SET: LCM

    4 x 100 fr on 1:25
    4 x 50 on 1:00 done 25 fly fast 25 k on bk

    rest 1:00

    4 x 100 fr on 1:20
    4 x 50 on 1:00 done 25 bk fast 25 k on bk

    rest 1:00

    4 x 100 fr on 1:25
    4 x 50 on 1:00 done 25 br fast 25 k on bk

    rest 1:00

    4 x 100 fr on 1:20
    4 x 50 on 1:00 done 25 fr fast 25 k on bk

    assigned: 900
    did: 5 x (50 easy, rest 1:00, 50 easy speed smooth)

    50 fly easy speed
    went 28

    50 easy


    2011 South Central Zone LCM Championships INFO
    Fri Jul 22 - Sun 24, 2011 in
    Shenandoah (Houston), TX
    South Central LCM Zones: DAYS AWAY
  4. Grateful to have swimming in my life

    by , July 12th, 2011 at 08:23 AM (Workout Swimmer)
    On my own today:

    800 back/free; breast/free
    4 x 200 pull on 3:10
    4 x 100 kick w/zoomers on 2:00
    200 easy
    5 x 200 IM - 2 w/zoomers, & last 3 w/out
    200 easy

    Total: 3400 LCM

    Commentary - having a hard time staying focused in the pool today - for starters - I was basically on my own, no little feet to chase, no coach looking over my shoulder. For seconders, the arches of my feet kept cramping up - weird. And lastly, they fired my MA yesterday - in fact 6 people were let go at my soon to be ex-employers office & I just really didn't want to come in to work today. Glad I only have 5-6 weeks left myself. Last day is August 26th, and between now & then I will have a vaca in Cancun, and 4 days in Auburn - Thank Goodness. Need to get more focused tho. I think after Nationals I will be really getting into the dryland thing - weights, maybe running (at least on the tennis courts) - something to add more oomph to my swimming. I probably won't enter a pool meet until October or November, so I'll have plenty of time to get used to the extra work. Oh - I do have the 10 mile river swim in Chattanooga, TN on Oct 8th - but that's more an endurance than speed thing, the way I look at it.
    Must say, I'm grateful to have swimming in my life. With all the ups and downs with my job, my kid's drama's, Church stuff, swimming is my escape - it's the one thing (other than my wonderful husband) that is stable in my life.

    Went back to the pool at lunch today - got in another 2000 - it was soooo nice to swim in the sunshine!!

    Updated July 12th, 2011 at 08:00 PM by Celestial

  5. Sprint attempt

    by , July 12th, 2011 at 07:29 AM (Mixing it up this year)
    I tried to sprint today. My Free felt great and strong but my fly felt uncoordinated. I know what I have to work on.

    The Aquatic center put in the blocks but in the wrong lane so I only have acess to them twice a week, since another group uses that lane M, W, F.

    400,300,200,100@:10R Free
    500 Fly kick w/fins
    10x50 from dive alt free/fly sprint 25 then easy free back
    400 Free w/snorkle, paddles & bouy
    100 Free EASY

    total 2500 meters
  6. 07/11/11

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 06:10 PM (Workout Swimmer)
    Mondays are getting boring - but I had my share of humiliation today - Reisa R was swimming circles around me on the 300's - pretty fast little girl considering how often she turns around in the middle of the pool.

    600 back/free
    600 pull
    400 kick
    8 x 100 stroke/free on 1:40 (I did back free for 4, then breast/free & did NOT keep a 1:40 on the last 4)
    200 easy
    4 x 300 on 5:30 descend 1-4
    200 easy

    Total:4000 LCM

    Had a lot of fun watching the kids at the meet this weekend - got to see Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkay, Gemma Spofforth, Connor Dwyer, Shaune Forster & lots of other Olympic Trials qualifiers - and some from Brazil who came up and were definite Olympic contenders as well. This one guy, Fernando something, did a :50+ on his 100 m free - he left everyone so far behind, you kinda wondered how they ended up in the same heat! And it was the FINALS heat. Wow. So inspiring!
  7. Monday, July 11

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 04:48 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)

    Warm up:

    600 various
    6 x 50 single arm fly/free/back
    8 x 25 shooters

    Speed Work:

    3 x (4 x burst 25) -- hand speed
    torque drill
    back spin drill
    breast pull w/buoy
    doggie paddle drill

    100 EZ

    10 x burst 25 w/fins -- leg speed
    -- 12 high cycle fast kicks + cruise
    odds = dolphin kick on back
    evens = dolphin kick on belly

    100 EZ

    8 x (25 AFAP w/fins + 75 EZ) @ 3:30-4:00
    6 free/2 breast

    5 x 50
    25 torque drill w/paddles + 25 easy back kick

    50 EZ

    Total: 2950


    Just worked on raw speed today. And despite the low yardage, I'm a bit tired! No rest for the weary though -- I'm about to go officiate a Monday night meet.

    I adore summer though. And I have much more free time than I used to with Mini driving now and being able to drop Lil Fort off at the pool solo now that she's 10. The other day she was there for 8 hours between a meet and playing with her friends.

    I've decided to sign up for the meet in the hairball pool -- 50 fly and 50 free. (No backstroke outdoors.) Jazz mentioned that a couple of the blocks looked completely broken. That should be interesting ...

    Attached are a few more pics from Villefranche.

    Updated July 11th, 2011 at 05:05 PM by The Fortress

    Swim Workouts
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  8. Monday, 7/11/11

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 11:43 AM (A comfort swimmer's guide to easy swimming)

    Warm up (800)
    200 swim - free
    200 kick - in streamline on back
    200 drill/swim - back and free, drills were 1 arm and fist
    200 pull/scull by 50's

    Set #1 (600)
    12 x 50/1:00
    1 drill - 1 steady build - 1 blast 1st and last meters
    - 1-3, 7-9 were free, others were back

    Set#2 (600)
    6 x 100 #1 50 1 arm drill/50 back swim/2:10
    #2 backstroke/2:00
    #3 reverse IM/2:10
    - went 2:00 on the drill/swim, 1:40 on the backstroke, 1:50 on the rev IM

    Set#3 (800)
    800 swim with fins (goal -1:35 base)
    - all free, went 11:50 (ave. 1:29's)

    Warm down
    100 easy free & back

    Total: 2900 meters
  9. Mon Jul 11th 2011 LCM

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 11:29 AM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    Mon Jul 11th 2011 LCM

    Fri lifted, did not swim
    Sat did not swim
    Sun did not swim or lift, found out my gym closed, now what?

    Zones is getting closer. 10 days away.
    leave for Houston next Thursday.
    meet starts Friday afternoon

    Subscribe to Ande's Swimming Blog

    Whitney Coached
    UT, main pool
    6:00 - 7:30 dove in 6:02
    wore FS PRO legs
    swam with Tyler, Todd, mike, chris & jason
    beside Larry & Jim

    3 x 400

    Main SET: LCM

    20 x 50 fr
    done 4 on a fast interval, 1 easy kick
    pretty much did 200's straight ave 2:25
    on 2:00 strong best ave

    400 fr easy

    20 x 50 fr
    done 4 on a fast interval, 1 easy kick
    pretty much did 200's straight ave 2:25
    on 2:00 strong best ave

    400 fr take 50 breaths

    50 on 40 right into
    100 on 1:20 right into
    150 on 2:00 right into
    200 on 2:40
    made em

    100 easy


    2011 South Central Zone LCM Championships INFO
    Fri Jul 22 - Sun 24, 2011 in
    Shenandoah (Houston), TX

    Updated July 11th, 2011 at 06:44 PM by ande

  10. Monday Workout

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 08:52 AM (Pete's swim blog)
    Felt awful this morning. Out of breath and sluggish. Kind of shook it off after a couple thousand meters and felt fine the rest of the way through.


    200 Free
    200 Kick
    200 Free

    200 Drill
    200 Free
    200 Drill

    4 x 100 Breast down/Free back
    4 x 100 Kick
    4 x 100 Back down/Free back
    4 x 100 Pull
    4 x 100 Free down/Fly back
    100 Easy

    3 x 200 Free Descend
    3 x 200 Kick Descend
    3 x 200 Pull Descend

    400 IM
    100 Easy
    300 Breast w/ paddles
    200 IM Easy cool down

    (6050m Total)
    Swim Workouts
  11. Distance Day but still no energy

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 07:46 AM (Mixing it up this year)
    Managed to do a great set but it started out slow and had its moments.

    500 Free
    500 Free kick w/fins every 3rd 25 fast
    15x100@1:40 Free w/paddles & bouy went 1:32, 1:32, 1:31, 1:31, 1:31, 1:31, 1:31, 1:31, 1:31, 1:30, 1:29, 1:28, 1:27, 1:29, 1:28
    6x50@:10R as 15 meters Kick fast w/snorkle rest easy free
    200 Free easy

    Total 3000 meters
  12. Week 2 of the Return

    by , July 11th, 2011 at 01:12 AM (Elise's Fitness Fun)
    Second week of trying to be consistent. To some degree I have kept moving even though I missed my weights this week. My appetite has increased resulting in a 4 lb. weight gain. Can't say I am happy with that, but I imagine it will drop off as my metabolism picks up in the next few weeks (at least I am hoping or perhaps wishfully thinking). Anyway, here is what I have done this week:

    Sunday, July 3
    Biked an easy 14 miles, averaged 17.2 mph.

    Tuesday, July 5
    Intended to go to the Y and lift weights and run on treadmill, but spent the later part of the afternoon looking for my dog who got out of the pen. Figured out I walked at least 4 miles looking for him. He didn't show up until two days later.

    Wednesday, July 6
    I am having a love affair with my bike. Did the 4 mile loop in reverse this week 3 times. The reverse way is rolling hills with very slight decline. Had a slight wind against me. Here is how it breaks down:

    2 mile warm up

    Loop 1: Averaged 18.1 mph
    1/3 mile recovery

    Loop 2: Averaged 20.1 mph
    1/3 mile recovery

    Loop 3: Averaged 20.5 mph
    1/3 mile recovery

    3 mile cool down

    Total of 18 miles. I think I started out too hard or the heat got to me a little. I was hoping to average 21 mph on the last loop.

    Thursday, July 7
    Got talked into running 4 miles with a group at 6:45 AM. Not an easy course and humidity was out the roof. I felt fine until the last mile which is all up hill. Lagged in a little behind the group and came in about 38 minutes, so about 9:30 miles. I have a long way to go on my running.

    Friday, July 8
    Hit the pool and did 1600 yards as follows:

    200 Reverse I.M.

    3 x 300 free with paddles on 4:15

    100 easy

    200 dolphin kick on back (with fins)

    4 x 25 fly on :45 with fins

    100 easy

    Saturday, July 9
    Biked a moderate 14 miles, averaging, 18.1 mph. Did this solo on course with rolling hills. No significant wind.
  13. Sunday Sprint Workout

    by , July 10th, 2011 at 09:44 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Today I went to the Sunday Sprint/Distance workout (pool split between you guessed it! Sprint workout and distance workout!).

    500 warm up WITH FINS! I rarely wear fins, but today I just felt like it!

    4 x 150 100 swim/50 kick
    15 sec rest, but we took more. no complaints from me!

    8 x 50 on the 1:10
    25 strong/25 easy

    200 recover - WITH FINS!

    8 x 50 on the 1:30?
    25 fast/25 easy
    37.5 fast/12.5 easy
    50 fast
    50 easy
    round 1 free, round 2 fly

    100 recover - WITH FINS!

    8 x 50 on the 1:30
    odd fast
    even easy

    The End.

    To clarify for previous comments, my SCY MEET SEASON spans 6-8 weeks, ending by early to mid December. In that time, I can swim at least 5 USA meets and 2 USMS meets, and only one is a travel meet! That is bang for your training! I plan on a break after that.

    I am focusing on the 50's and 100's. Mostly the 50 free, then the 100 fly/free. It's what I am going to race the most. If I go to the Chesapeake Pro Am again this year, it also makes the most sense to do 4 x 50 free sets - because of the shoot out (I tied for 10th in prelims last year; you have to make top 8). Plus, for our local masters meets, you are swimming 4 events in about 1 1/2 hours.

    Congratulations to JEFF COMMINGS on qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials! My sister bought my tix and selected our hotel:

    Element Omaha Midtown Crossing:
  14. Sunday, Starlight Meet Results (USA-S) LCM

    by , July 10th, 2011 at 09:10 PM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Well...I'm exhausted. This day was tough, even though I only had to work 4.5 hours beforehand.
    My legs are just shot. I have no cardio. I'm starting to sound like a sprinter... But I did suck it up and swim all my events...not the greatest, but I did swim them. I think I may have swum about 10-12 times since my last meet a month ago also...

    200 Free - (2:15.47) 30/34/36/34 or so
    3 seconds slower than my meet 4 weeks ago in Corvallis, though it was good enough for a 10th place ribbon (and NO there weren't only 10 people in the event...) My legs hurt so bad on the 3rd length.

    100 Back - (1:14.99) 36/38
    This was my first time in the 100 Back LCM as a master swimmer, so a best time! Yippie! I actually felt good, and the clouds came out just in time for the backstroke races!!

    50 Free - (27.91) about a 1/2 second slow.
    I'm not a sprinter. At least I was first place among all athletes over 20 years of age.

    200 Fly - (2:43.57) 34/40/43/46**
    **SPECIAL NOTE: I did stop at the 150 point and hang on the wall for 10 seconds to talk to the official about the my last 50 split was approx. a 36 or so. A much needed rest though. I knew I was going to do something like this ahead of time, just not sure when and how often or how much break time. But as long as you hang onto the wall, you can't be DQ'd.
    I'm actually surprised that I showed up at the blocks for the race. My "coach" wouldn't allow me to skip it, said I had to be a good role model for the age group kids on the local club team.
    It was also good enough for another 10th place ribbon (out of 13 athletes).
  15. Saturday, July 9, 2011

    by , July 10th, 2011 at 09:08 PM (A comfort swimmer's guide to easy swimming)

    500 easy swim
    10 x 50/1:00 descend 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10 easy

    Main Set
    7 x 500/@ 8:40
    - swam these at 8:20-30, on #'s 1,4,7 swam with the TYR Freestyler paddles

    12 x 25/:45 choice
    - did these IM order, even breaststroke

    4 x 75/1:45 back, strong
    - 1:12-14 on these

    Cool down
    100 easy

    Total: 5200 meters

    Updated July 10th, 2011 at 09:18 PM by poolraat

  16. Sunday, July 10

    by , July 10th, 2011 at 05:57 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)

    RC exercises
    hanging straight leg raises, 2 x 15
    back extensions w/25 lb plate, 2 x 15
    extreme angle step ups w/ 20 lb DBs, 3 x 10
    HS hi row, explosive, 140 x 1 x 10, 130 x 1 x 10, 120 x 1 x 20
    push press, 50 x 3 x 10
    knee tuck jumps, 10
    altitude drops, 2 x 10

    Swim/SCM/Solo @ Gym

    30 minute slow continuous swim a la RA



    Took yesterday off completely; I was even too wiped out for yoga. Had to save my energy for a birthday dinner with friends and fam. And I got a huge huge shock as I walked out the door -- a new convertible. Sweet ride!!! I literally had no idea. Now Geek will be forced to stop making fun of my mommymobile Durango, which is almost ready for retirement. After some birthday champagne and wine from Provence that we brought home, I was ready to sleep in. And although the gym would not be my first choice of activities on my birthday, I dutifully dragged myself in. Hope to do a speed workout tomorrow. It's going to be a busy week with summer league meets on Mon-Wed-Sat. -- boys v. girls meet, divisional relay championship and our weekly A meet.

    I've attached a few pics from Villefranche, France. The third one is a covered street from the 12th century called the Rue Obscure, which was very unique. And a cute pic of Mini and me from last night. She has chipmunk cheeks form her wisdom teeth surgery (and still very valiantly swam in the meet sat am for her team). And lastly a pic of my new ride. It makes driving around in the traffic here so much more tolerable!
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  17. Saturday, Starlight Meet Results (USA-S) LCM

    by , July 9th, 2011 at 11:36 PM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Well...this was an interesting day for me.

    Started off at 5:00am with work as usual...except today I got pulled away to do a semi-full rebuild of one of the machines for another department in another of our facilities. It was fun to say the least. I got done with this about 3:00pm.

    My first event was starting about 5:30pm, and I had no warmup aside from a few lengths back and forth in the deep tank pool which I can cross in about 5-6 strokes.

    400 Free 4:47.68 - best Masters time by 2 seconds. also a new LMSC record (previously mine)
    Splits held very nice, though it hurt like hell from my (lack of) conditioning over the past month. I was surprised when I asked the timers my time, as I was painfully gasping for air/seeing stars/near blackout/etc.

    I had a 1 hour window here between events, so I headed over to a "celebration of life" party for Peony Munger and her late husband. Peony is the woman featured on the USMS homepage who did the 1000 miles of butterfly. She was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the following day after the news, her husband passed away. This was too much for her to happen all at the same time. It was a very nice party, and almost everyone who has ever swam with our Masters group was there.

    Made it back to the pool at 6:40pm with 2 heats to spare for my next adrenaline was pumping as I came into the pool and heard heat 1 of my event on the blocks (I was in heat 3)

    200 IM 2:33.12 - this was just 2 tenths of a second off my best.
    My fly felt great, back was okay, breaststroke was good till about 1/2way down the pool, and then my muscles gave up, and coming home in the free was just a thrashing motion.

    Literally 18 minutes later was the:

    100 Fly 1:07.9 Ouchy in all different ways you can think of.
    My muscles just couldn't recover that quickly, especially on the lack of training I've done lately. It was 2.5 seconds slower than my last time in June.

    Afterwards, I went back to spend some more quality time with Peony at the party. She is such a caring, loveable person. In leaving I told her I would see her again in the pool soon. She replied with "if I'm still alive". I told her that she'll always be there with us. Apparently she doesn't have much time left with us from what her doctors have been saying. She will be missed greatly by all.
    I will one day soon do a 1650/1500 fly at practice in her honor.
  18. 50 free: 28.33

    by , July 9th, 2011 at 10:04 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Today I was able to swim the 50 free! I took the girls to early summer league practice, then did some work before going to the meet.


    Commentary: Another 28.3 for the pile! Very pleased with a solid time, and a gutsy swim. Yours truly was keen on winning a ribbon today!!

    Given this summer's "interim" swimming phase, I am very satistfied with the way I approached the swim, mentally and especially a relatively strong finish at the end (for me, that is!), plus staying under auto sectional cuts.


    The suit: I have been wearing my middle-oldest LZR Racer Kneeskin all summer. I see no reason to wear my 2 newest, nor the 2 oldest. So this suit has gone through 6 summer swims, plus about 3 other meets in SCY. It has lasted a long time! It is at the perfect not-fully-stretched-out-but-easy-to-get-on-and-wear-for-non-championship-meets stage.


    How to improve? From Rich A's definition of 3 systems, the one I am deficient in is the Race Speed. While I have raced quite a bit this summer, I will need to add a dedicated day of Race Speed workout (I'm thinking once per week) NOW, so that when I begin my 6-8 week SCY "season", i'll already be well into Race Shape, and not starting it from the 1st of those 6 weeks.

    I'm thinking:

    4 x 50 on the 5 minutes;
    10 x 100's, every 1, 4, 7, and 10 fast with the 2 in between as recovery; from fast swim to the next fast swim at 10 minute intervals.

    But ultimately, the gut-check is: if I were asked to do a get out swim, would I embrace it or would I dread it? The times I am in really great racing shape, i'd think to myself, "Pick me! Pick me!".
  19. Frogs, bugs and pretty views

    by , July 9th, 2011 at 09:21 PM (Pete's swim blog)
    I'll swim just about anywhere I'm invited so I was happy to oblige my fellow HSA swimmers when they scheduled their workout at Monte Sano pool for this morning. The Nat was in use for the city meet and my other teammates were getting started too late for me to get a workout in.

    Monte Sano is a mountain that lies on the eastern edge of Huntsville. I grew up at the base of the mountain. It was literally my back yard. The road up it, Bankhead parkway is a winding 4 mile 1000 foot ascent. Prior to swimming 2 years ago, I would ride my bike up it every weekday at lunch. That's one of the few things I enjoyed about cycling over swimming. Hard work was always instantly rewarded with a massive adrenaline rush racing back down any mountain you climb. The bigger the mountain, the bigger the rush.

    It's probably been 30 years since I was last at Monte Sano pool. I had forgotten how nice it was. It is set up on an overlook facing eastward. This morning, fog settled in over the valley and the view as the sun rose was surreal. Most of the neighborhood pools in Huntsville were built in the 70s. All but a couple were 25 yard long pools. Monte Sano is one of the rarer 25 meter pools.

    Outdoor pools in relatively unpopulated areas attract all sorts of interesting critters. As I was cruising along, something fairly large flashed in front of my face and disappeared. After the set, someone said "hey, did you see the frog?" George went and caught it. He said he didn't mind the frog being in the pool but the frog was beating him on the last 25 of a 200 swimming. He was swimming free style; the frog was swimming breast stroke. It was a pretty big one. About 8-10 inches with its legs extended. As I got out of the pool, I found a rhinocerous beetle hanging on the side. We get all sorts of bugs this time of year but those are kind of rare. Suprised we didn't run into any snakes.

    Between all the fun with the frogs beatles and views, here's what we did:


    400 Free
    400 Kick

    2 Times through
    * 200 IM Drill Down/Swim Back
    * 200 Free
    8 x 50 IM Order

    400 Pull
    200 IM
    200 Free
    4 x 50 IM Order
    8 x 25 IM Order

    4 x 100 Pull
    200 IM
    200 Free
    200 IM
    4 x 100 Free

    200 IM Cool down

    (4800m Total)
  20. Success!

    Yesterday was Stage 1 of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. I was 1 of 7 swimmers attempting the 18.3-mile stretch of river, from the Rip van Winkle Bridge (connecting Catskill and Hudson, NY) downriver to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. The challenging thing about the swim—apart from the distance—is that this part of the Hudson is not so much a river as a tidal estuary. Simply put, that means it flows in two directions rather than one--the current shifts with tidal cycles every 6 hours or so. Our swim was timed to start at the end of the flood stage, when the river was still flowing slightly north, and to last through the south-flowing ebb stage, when the current would be with us. If necessary, we could run slightly into the next flood stage, before the current became too fast to swim against—the race timeline called for pulling swimmers “at end of ebb tide or when they can no longer make headway in flood.”

    Going into the swim, it seemed like this stage would be doable for a swimmer maintaining a 30-minute per mile pace. At 6h09m, the ebb window was a relatively long one (they vary significantly by stage, depending on a ton of stuff I don’t understand—tides are really complicated!). And the maximum ebb current was predicted to be fairly fast, at 1.7 knots. Still, the river’s flow doesn’t always conform to predictions, and things like strong winds from the south can slow progress substantially. So going into the swim I was facing two uncertainties: Would I be able to swim continuously for 6 hours or so? (My previous longest swim was 2.5 hours.) And, if I managed to do that, would I reach the bridge before the tide turned?

    The day started off well. I travelled to the stage’s loading area near Catskill with friends and fellow swimmers Rondi, Lisa, and Gilles. Dave was already there organizing things, and we started sunscreening up and getting our gear ready. Our other two swimmers arrived, kayakers started trickling in, and our big escort boat pulled in and tied up. (Each of the 7 swimmers would have an escort kayak, plus there was a large boat and a zippy little zodiac-style boat to provide support to the field throughout the day.) Dave passed out 5-gallon buckets that we could store our feeds in—the buckets then fit into a molded depression on the sit-on-top kayaks being used for the swim. I stashed my various thermoses and solid food containers in it, then found met my kayaker and went over my feeding schedule with him. Soon we were ready to get underway. We loaded our gear onto the boat (the kayaks and zodiac were already on board), boarded the swimmers and kayakers, then all headed up to the bridge that marked the start of the swim.

    It was an overcast day and a little cool. It took about 20 minutes to motor up to our start point, which gave me time to start feeling a little nervous. Now that everything was ready to go there was nothing to think about except for the swim ahead. When I looked downstream the river stretched on and on, yet I couldn’t even see the bridge we were swimming to, and I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into. But while I wasn’t at all sure I would be able to finish the swim, I knew that whatever happened that day I would get to spend a good long time in the water I loved, and that at the end of the day I would end up on a comfortable boat with friends who would be supportive no matter what. That was reassuring.

    The boat stopped a touch past the bridge, and I huddled downstairs near the engine room with most of the other swimmers while the kayaks and kayakers were unloaded. Once the kayakers were in place, we determined that the tide was still pushing north, but getting close to changing. Dave said a few words, we each jumped off the boat, and positioned ourselves under the bridge. The water was pretty warm—mid- to upper-70s. There was a brief countdown, and we took off swimming.

    The journey down the river was really pleasant. I made sure I started off stroking very easy and comfortably—I was going to get to do plenty of swimming, so I didn’t want to get all excited and swim hard at the beginning. My kayaker was soon beside me to my right, my preferred breathing side. I planned to feed every 30 minutes, and the only interval that seemed long to me the entire day was before my first feed. After that one, I kind of knew how it would go, and trusted my kayaker to keep track of the time and signal me when it was time to stop and feed. It’s funny, I bought a wristwatch with a stopwatch function before this swim so that I would know how much time had passed, and how long to my next feeding, but I think the only time I looked at it during the whole swim was at 0h21m minutes in.

    As for feedings, for this swim I wanted to experiment around with having more solid foods, and more real food, than I had taken in during the MIMS relay. Before the swim, I experimented around with different stuff, and even tried making my own GUs, which I put into freezable push-up popsicle molds. I charted calories and sodium content of various stuff, and ended up with a feeding schedule that seemed more like an extended picnic on the river. I kept my tried-and-true liquid feeds (a juice mixture, and heavily sweetened tea) on the hours, and used heavier stuff (solids, purees, or chocolate milk) on the half-hours. My kayaker also offered me water at each stop.

    Here’s what my 14-course Hudson Valley tasting menu ended up looking like:

    0h30m Raspberry/apple/orange juice
    1h Herb tea w/ agave nectar
    1h30 Chocolate milk
    2h Juice
    2h30 Peanut-butter & jelly pop
    3h Tea
    3h30 Chicken sandwich pop
    4h Juice
    4h30 Yogurt drink, Pear puree
    5h Tea
    5h30 Chocolate milk
    6h Juice
    6h30 PB & J pop
    7h Tea
    7h30 Yogurt drink

    These worked out well for me—I seemed to tolerate everything well, I felt energized after each feeding, thought they were all yummy, and looked forward to the next one. My favorite was the pb&j pop. The chicken-sandwich pop took the longest to eat, and tasted kind of bland. I ended up drinking less than the planned 8 oz of the liquids each time, which means I got less than the 250-290 calories/hour I had planned, but I ended up feeling strong and having good energy throughout the swim, so I don’t think that was a problem.

    Between feeds I stroked down the river and had a very enjoyable day. The Hudson Valley is gorgeous. I passed some landmarks I recognized, but a lot of the swim I just watched pretty wooded riverbank pass by, with some small mountains in the background to my right, and some sweet houses and little towns dotting the landscape every now and again. I chatted with my kayaker some during feeds, and we both agreed how beautiful it would be to do this stretch of river again during foliage season. Sometimes my elbows and wrists felt a little tired, and about 3-3½ hours in all my muscles—upper arms, forearms, lats, neck, upper back—started feeling achy. I thought about asking my kayaker for an ibuprofen on my next feed (I had packed some in my just-in-case bag, along with extra cap and goggles and extra food and cookies). But I didn’t, and eventually the achiness subsided and I started feeling good again. When I talked with Dave afterwards he said that is common on long swims.

    For a while I could see other swimmers in front of me, but they soon got out of sight. After a couple of hours Gilles and his kayaker came into view, and we swam near each other for awhile. There was little boat traffic on the river, but whenever anything big or interesting passed by I turned over to do backstroke and look at it. I saw various birds flying around above me, and sometimes indistinct shapes swimming by below. It was pretty mesmerizing just stroking along and occasionally noticing the sun being further along in its journey through the sky. I never really felt tired or lacking good energy, just a little sore in my muscles. Whenever I started dwelling on that, I would try changing up my stroke in some way—increasing stroke rate, kicking a little more, exiting earlier, rotating more, letting my head hang more restfully in the water. That seemed to help, either by using the muscles a little differently, or by focusing my attention on something other than the soreness sensation until other thoughts drifted into my head.

    After a while I spotted the Saugerties lighthouse to my right, and I felt confident from then on that I would be able to finish the swim. That must have lifted my spirits, because from there on I felt really great and light in the water—my stroke felt smooth and long and effective, and I wasn’t achy at all anymore. Once I could see the bridge ahead, it was tempting to keep on looking up to see how much progress I was making, and I did that for about the next 100 yards. But I knew from our boat trip on this stage that you can see the bridge well before you get to it, so I managed to be disciplined after that and not look up at it between my feedings, and was rewarded by how much closer it seemed after 30 minutes of steady swimming. Finally during the 5h30 feed my kayaker told me he thought I would make it to the bridge before my next feed—we seemed very close at that point. And I did, finishing the swim in 5h50m. I turned over and did backstroke so I could see the bridge overhead as I finished, and blew it a kiss as I crossed under.

    After I finished I floated around in the water, did a couple of back flips to stretch out, then climbed up onto the boat. Rondi, Dave, and Lisa were waiting for me and all gave me hugs and congratulations. Very soon after Gilles climbed aboard. Out of 7 starters we had 5 swimmers who finished the stage. Forumite Leonard Jansen got very close but was done in by the changing currents. Our seventh swimmer, Bill Dailey, swam strong for several hours before retiring.

    On the boat afterwards, Rondi said the day’s swim was equivalent to a 13-miler unassisted by current. I still can’t quite believe I swam that far! We had close-to-perfect conditions yesterday, with cloud cover for most of the day (the sun peeked out a few times just to say hi), little wind, and mostly flat water that was very easy to swim in (there was a bit of gentle chop when the current was at its strongest). My kayaker Teddy was really wonderful and encouraging the entire day long. In fact everyone involved in the swim—from Captain Greg, Richie, and Amanda on the Launch 5 boat, to Clare and Mary as the swim’s boat crew, and all the swimmers and kayakers—was incredibly positive and supportive. I ended up feeling very grateful that I had such a terrific setting for attempting my first extended swim.

    Today I am at home resting. I did an easy swim at the Y this morning—1200 yards—just to stretch out and get blood flowing to my tired muscles. I am amazed by Dave and Rondi, who are swimming again today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, etc. I go back upstate on Monday to be part of Stage 4. Tomorrow I’ll review my feedings and decide what I want to do differently the second time around—maybe more solids, and definitely a second pb&j pop!