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  1. Swimwear in Training and Competition

    by , June 4th, 2017 at 11:41 AM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Questions regarding swimwear seem to be a constant for masters swimmers.

    The latest issue of SWIMMER magazine features the ROKA SIM PRO II Buoyancy shorts (page 40). The article stresses its use for learning swim skills and training. It is great to know that there are products available to assist swimmers with these all-important skills.


    However, the article omits the all-important, specific statement that the suit is illegal for USMS competition and highlights the need to remind swimmers that there may be many products suitable for training, but not approved for competition.

    The swimwear rules are covered in article 102.12. Article 102.12.1D says that only suits complying with FINA swimsuit specifications may be worn in a USMS sanctioned or recognized competition. Suits are now tested and approved by FINA for the material (they must be made of textile materials), buoyancy, and permeability in order to ensure compliance with FINA standards.

    A complete list of FINA approved swimwear may be found here.
    http://www.fina.org/content/fina-approved-swimwear

    In addition, there are several important requirements specified in article 102.12 for all pool competition.


    • Swimmers are permitted to wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces.
    • For men, the suit may not extend above the naval or below the knee.
    • For women, the suit may not cover the neck, extend past the shoulders, or extend past the knee.
    • Swimwear may include a swimsuit, no more than two caps, and goggles. Ear plugs and nose clips are allowed, but armbands and legbands are not considered part of the suit and not allowed.


    Exceptions to these rules for verified medical conditions, religious beliefs, or other circumstances may be approved by the Rules Committee Chair on a case-by-case basis. With medical exceptions, we do our best to consult experts and determine the best solution for the swimmers. Therefore, swimmers seeking an exception are responsible for requesting such an exception and must allow enough time for an evaluation, which sometimes takes several days, up to a few weeks, depending on the circumstances. Asking for a medical exception the night before a meet is likely to result in disappointment!

    The rules for open water and long distance races are covered in 303.7.2 are similar for category I swimwear (i.e., no wetsuits). Men are permitted upper body coverage in open water races and the FINA list includes swimwear specifically approved for open water races. When category II swimwear is permitted, wetsuits, neoprene caps, or other heat-retaining swimwear may be allowed at the discretion of the event director if the water temperature is not greater than 78 degrees F.

    Articles 102.12 and 303.7.2 also mention the use of tape. There are many good products on the market to assist with training and recovery from injuries. But, again, many products that may be suitable for training are not approved for competition.

    USMS rule 102.12.1E (governing pool events) says that “Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee”. USMS rule 303.7.3C (governing long distance and open water event) also says that "Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee." The use of tape in competition is limited to situations involving verified medical conditions. The application of tape is intended to be for situations such as wound closure, taping of fingers or toes (no more than two), taping to secure medical devices, or other limited uses that would not provide any competitive advantage. The use of any kind of tape that purports to provide muscle compression; muscle, joint, or ligament stabilization; or other physical benefits, including therapeutic elastic tape or similar products, is never permitted in USMS competition.
  2. Major Changes for 2017

    by , October 29th, 2016 at 02:59 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Several rules were changed by the House of Delegates during the USMS Annual Meeting in Atlanta in September. Here is a summary of the major changes that will take effect on January 1, 2017.

    Continuous Warm-Up: In pools of five lanes or more, a separate warm-up area must be made available to swimmers during the competition. However, if the meet is a dual-sanctioned meet with USA Swimming, this requirement may be adjusted depending on availability of warm-up space at the venue by agreement between the LMSC and LSC host clubs. If a continuous warm-up/warm-down lane(s) or area is not available in pools of five lanes or more, the entry information shall clearly state the availability of warm-up for USMS athletes. Once the entry information is published, changes which further restrict the availability of continuous warm-up/warm-down space are not permitted.

    Events: The order of events must be published in the meet announcement prior to the meet. Events may be repeated with the same stroke and distance as different event numbers at a meet.

    Alternative Formats: All short course meters events, long course meters events, and national championships shall be conducted on a timed-finals basis. Other short course yards events may be conducted on a timed-finals basis or another basis (e.g., preliminary heats and finals).

    Time Trials: Independent attempts to establish official times (“time trials”) are permitted only in USMS-sanctioned short course yards meets other than national championship meets. Time trials are not permitted in USMS national championship meets, short course meters, or long course meters meets. If time trials are offered, the meet announcement must state the events being offered and the format for the time trials.

    Event Limits: A swimmer may compete in not more than six individual events per day. A swimmer shall not compete more than once in the same numbered individual event. Any nonconforming events swum shall be included in the daily event limit. If events are conducted in formats other than timed finals that require multiple swims (e.g., preliminary heats and finals), the limit is three events per day. For events that require multiple swims (e.g., preliminary heats and finals), all swims (e.g., preliminary heats) are considered as part of the same individual event, not as multiple individual events. If time trials are offered in short course yards meets, any time trial events swum shall be included in the daily event limit. A swimmer may repeat, as a time trial, an individual event already swum during the meet on the same day or in the same meet.

    Place Judges: One or two place judges may be positioned on the side of the course near the finish to judge the order of finish of all swimmers. Judging may not be used to change the results produced by ranking the official times.

    Official Time for Malfunction on a Lane: Timing system adjustments to backup times for individual lane malfunctions have been eliminated. In the event of a lane malfunction, the official time is calculated using valid times reported by the secondary timing system (or the tertiary system) in accordance with 103.17.3B and integrated with the accurate primary times in determining the results.

    Requirements for USMS Records and Top 10 Times: USMS records and top 10 times may be established with a three, two, or one valid semiautomatic backup time in the event of an automatic timing system (touchpad) failure. USMS records may be established with two valid watch times in the event of both automatic primary and semiautomatic backup system failure. USMS top 10 times may be established with one valid watch time in the event of both automatic primary and semiautomatic backup system failure. USMS records may be established with two valid watches if the semiautomatic primary timing system fails. USMS Top 10 times may be established with one valid watch if the semiautomatic primary timing system fails.

    Splits: The referee may assign additional watch timers to record splits for USMS top 10 times regardless of the primary timing system. The referee may approve automatic recording of splits, with the concurrence of the meet host, without the need for a written request with the exception of backstroke events or initial splits within a backstroke leadoff distance.

    Fresh Water: USMS records and top 10 times can only be made in fresh water. No records or top 10 times will be recognized in any kind of sea or ocean water.

    Health and Safety Regulations for USMS Competition: Article 106 (medical examinations, medical equipment) is eliminated.

    Age Determining Date for Open Water and Postal Swims: “In open water and postal swims, the eligibility of a swimmer shall be determined by the age of the swimmer on December 31 of the year of competition, except for 18-year-olds, who must be 18 on the day that they swim.” This mirrors the birthdate rule used by FINA and USA-Triathlon. The relay age rules for open water and long distance/postal swims (303.1.3B & 305.6) remain unchanged.

    Water Conditions: Temperature guidelines have been amended for swimmer safety in swims with very warm water. “A swim of 5 kilometers or greater shall not begin if the water temperature exceeds 29.45° C. (85° F.). A swim of less than 5 kilometers shall not begin if the water temperature exceeds 31° C. (87.8° F.).” This mirrors the FINA general standard of 31° C, and the USA-Swimming exception to that rule of 29.45° C for swims 5-km or longer.

    Swimwear: For Category I open water swimwear, clasps and zippers are now excluded. This mirrors the FINA swimwear rule, and will make it easier for event staff to identify legal swimwear at each venue.

    Officials: The roles and authorities of open water event director, safety director and referee have been defined, particularly the authority to postpone the start, stop a swim in progress, and cancel an event.

    Independent Safety Monitors: The requirement to have a USMS-approved Independent Safety Monitor at all USMS open water swims has been removed. In its place, as part of event supervision, each sanctioning LMSC should develop oversight procedures to assure that the approved safety plan is implemented and that adequate safety precautions are in place for existing conditions.

    Solo Open Water Swims: Because USMS no longer sanctions solo swims, all reference to solo swims have been removed from the rulebook.

    1-Hour ePostal (OHeP): The Long Distance Committee is extending the closing date for the 2017 and future OHeP events to be the last day of February. This will give more people a chance to swim and minimize the impact of major winter weather.
  3. Strait of Juan de Fuca: training, part 1 of 2

    by , June 8th, 2013 at 07:46 PM (Please tap on the glass)
    I’ve got a theory: anyone who says they cannot find the time or place to train is lying to themselves.

    Last year, I told myself I wouldn’t train for anything this year. Life being as unsettled as it is right now, how could I give the necessary effort to make any serious swim worthwhile? Look how well that worked out. This is Part 1 of 2 of my training for the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You won’t find any sets here. If you want that, check out USMS Forums, or ask a coach, or something. What you will find here are the basics of my approach to acclimatization, endurance, and how to do it without a permanent residence. In the next training post, you’ll probably see an explanation of how I’m scurrying to adjust for my plan’s shortcomings.

    Last December, when I moved to Seattle, I knew I’d be travelling a lot. As I write this, I’m about to board my 40th plane of 2013. So finding a home team was out of the question. Even buying a monthly pool pass would be a waste of money since I spend less than 45% of my time in Seattle. Also, pools are hot and crowded (and gross). So I took to the Sound. Always free, always open, always empty, and always the perfect temperature to training for a cold-water swim.

    The way I plan on accomplishing this swim is three-fold: brown fat, metabolism, be in shape.

    The brown fat (which we’ll say represents my level of acclimatization) I’ve been working on since I first jumped in Lake Washington in January. And I’m working on it three or four times a week when I’m not out of town. Hot showers are the worst, and I break a sweat walking to the car on a chilly morning, so it seems to be working.

    Metabolism also has three parts. First, stay fed. I quickly adopted a tow-behind water bottle filled with calories (maltodextrin and AminoX, mostly). Then, I started shoving a few Gu packs in my suit to snack on. During a typical training swim, I’ll consume about 500 cal/hr with more before and after. Second, vitamins. This might not be true, but I believe vitamin B boosts metabolism. Or at least, certainly doesn’t hurt it (and it’s miscible, so it’s very hard to overdose). Hence, my feed bottles contain crushed B-complex. I’d like to hear what my coworkers think when they see my crushing pills and mixing piles of white powder in the office lunchroom. My swim bag also contains gummy multivitamins and fish oil capsules. Third, move! When I move on land, I get hot quickly. Therefore, if I move fast in the water…you get the idea. Which brings us to

    Be in shape. To warm up, literally, at the start of my cold water workouts, I jump in and swim as fast as possible until the cold numbs my skin. And when I start feeling cold later on? Swim faster! The product of these two is a fast-paced, survival-based swim. And this works! Despite minimal interval training, every time I jump in a pool I find my pace to still be over 4 km/hr. When I do want to work on something, in or out of the pool, it is usually getting my stroke rate up from 59-60 to anything over 60. Moving more means more calories burned means more heat generated means less dying in July. Right now, I feel like I’m in nearly the same shape I was before MIMS last year despite a very, very different training “plan”.

    By the way, “Be in shape” is easier said than done when there is no coach, no workout, no pool, and no pattern to one’s life. This is where being opportunistic has come in. When I’m in Seattle, opportunistic simply means heading to the beach after work and on weekends. Everywhere else, it means exploration and adventure. Awesome adventure. There was the day in Abbotsford, BC where the wave pool was turned on for my entire pool workout. There was a 2.5k swim in Delta, BC when I high-fived snails for forty-five minutes because the water was so shallow (it was called Mud Bay, go figure). There was the gorgeous Kinsmen Centre pool in Edmonton, AB, and the time the fire department showed up when I took my to work out to the adjacent river. There were olympians at a pool in San Jose, CA, two-foot breaking waves in Lake George, NY., and instructions on igloo building from a stranger while warming up on a Vancouver beach. Opportunistic isn’t always convenient or ideal, definitely not repeatable, but it seems to be working. I could write a whole post on the merits and challenges of opportunistic training, but suffice it to say: it works for me for now.

    After all of this, six months of swimming every chance and place possibly, I can get out of 50F water after two and a half hours and feel great! I am in shape, I have some brown and white fat building up, I have no excess fear for what’s to come.

    I also have no idea where I’m sleeping Tuesday night, but today is Saturday and I know where I’m swimming in the morning. And it’s not in the same country I’m in right now.

    Fine, you win. Here’s your workout: 200 w/u LCM, 8 x 1,000 @ 15:00 200 c/d

    Updated June 17th, 2013 at 01:27 AM by andrewmalinak

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  4. To be an aquarium animal

    by , May 30th, 2013 at 04:34 PM (Please tap on the glass)
    Let me start by saying, coworkers if you’re reading this, I do not hate my job. It’s just, well, I feel I have a higher calling in life. It isn’t you personally, but the industry as a whole; construction companies really discourage swimming in the workplace. That’s why I mailed out the below letter a few months back.

    This letter, attached to my aquarium animal resume, was snail-mailed to seventeen aquaria in the US, Canada, and farther abroad hoping for a position as an aquarium animal. I didn’t expect much. I didn’t specify “Must Be Main Attraction”, or “Mammal Positions Only”. I was ready to start at the bottom of the food chain, literally, and work my way up.

    So far, it has not worked out. It’s been dismissed as a joke, or a clever joke, or an annoying joke, or some other kind of joke. The few (four) responses I received were all to the tune of “check our website for openings.” Mr. C.W., General Manager at the Vancouver Aquarium, called the effort “entertaining and innovative,” while Mr. CJ.C., the Seattle Aquarium’s Director of Life Sciences, acknowledged it is “certainly one of the most unique letters [he’s] ever received.” What more does an aspiring sea pen (S. bollonsi, perhaps) need to do to get hired by you people other than write an entertaining, innovative, and unique letter!? I’ve personally stared at your actual sea pens for hours, Seattle Aquarium, and never once seen them produce a work of nearly the same quality. They’re lazier than I am at my real job!!!

    Am I getting too intense? Can you not handle my passion for swimming and for being sea life? That must be it, because it clearly isn’t my qualifications that disappoint you. Confession, Seattle: in my free time, I stalk at your aquatic employees; I know their backstories, their scientific names, where they eat lunch. For example Ada, your sea otter. You want “found hypothermic on an airport runway”? I can do that. I’m hypothermic on nearby Alki Beach three or four times a week, just waiting to be rescued by you. Rescued from this dry, meaningless life they call geotechnical engineering.

    So, aquarists worldwide, have some compassion. I just want an opportunity to be a sea star. Or any other echinoderm for that matter. Give me a chance. You will not regret it.

    Here’s the letter:

    You probably do not receive many requests like this, I understand that most or your new additions are the product of a rigorous scouting program. However, since I fall outside of the usual candidate pools, I feel my exemplary qualifications may be overlooked and would like to inquire as to any opportunities you may have at [Specific] Aquarium.

    My interest in becoming an aquarium animal first came to light as a youth. As many young humans do, watching the sea lions at the Bronx Zoo filled me with the usual why-not-mes and dad-can-Is. It was easy to let others’ disapproval of the idea take hold, as I didn’t even begin serious aquatic-mammal training until the age of nine. After nearly two decades of work, I now possess more aquatic experience than many of your typical employees: five times that of an elderly Giant Pacific Octopus, twice as much as a male Southern Sea Otter, and an amount equivalent to a middle-aged Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. With my anticipated life-span, I could foreseeably become one of your most enduring exhibits.

    Aside from my proven experience as an aquatic animal, I have many innate qualities that would make me an excellent addition to your organization. I am diurnal and euryhaline, and will swim without complaint in waters between forty-five and eighty degrees Fahrenheit. I travel well without special equipment or handlers, from a crowded public bus to first-class international flights, and do not require special customs clearances. I’m able to draw a crowd to watch my performances, whether circumnavigating Manhattan or demonstrating an Endless Pool at the Seattle Home Show. What’s more, I enjoy sardines and can even make my own Vitafish! Try to get a bat ray to do that.

    Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I believe in the mission of aquariums and would excel at furthering public interest in aquatic life. In most exhibits I’ve seen in my lifetime, those on display rarely look interested in communicating with those of us on the dry-side of the glass; and never have I seen any ambition from the wet-side to inform or educate. Even the friendly seals and dolphins, stars of the show, often fail to show initiative or produce results without express directions by whistle or hand signal. Perhaps my most valuable contribution to your aquarium as an aquatic animal would be to clearly communicate both the rigors and beauty of life in the water with minimal managerial input and maximum client results. As a bonus, I can vocalize in both English and French.

    Please let me know if you have any openings, especially in the phyla Chordata or Mollusca (I’m still uncertain of my abilities to be convincing as a Poriferan or Cnidarian). I welcome the opportunity to fill any niche—Eltonian or Grinnellian, or Hutchinsonian—as you see fit.

    On a final note, you will not have to worry about “the Ryan Lochte problem” with me. Hygiene is something I take very seriously—I frequently bathe with soap or sterilize in a high-chlorine solution.

    Regards,
    Andrew Malinak BE EnvEng, BS EnvSci
    Full resume available upon request.

    Updated May 30th, 2013 at 06:07 PM by andrewmalinak

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  5. Swimming around San Francisco

    by , April 27th, 2013 at 12:22 AM (Please tap on the glass)
    Yes, that title is a bit misleading. Yesterday was my last day in San Francisco. Despite being sent for work, I managed to turn this mostly-paid-for trip into a great opportunity to do a lot of swimming in the Bay area.

    It began early Saturday morning. My first glimpse of the Bay, the first since my dad brought me on a whirlwind West Coast tour fifteen years ago, was gorgeous. The sky was rosy, the water sat flat, and Alcatraz looked close. Which was great, since at a few minutes past 7am, I jumped off the Aquatic Center beach with a handful of others to go out to, around, and back from Alcatraz with the Swim Around the Rock (hosted by Water World Swim). What a great start to seeing a new city!

    A swim report this is not, so I'll skip over how I got a bit lost, fought some currents, and had a generally scenic, uneventful swim. In the end, I made it back. Since January, I've been training almost exclusively in the Puget Sound at Seattle, no wetsuit, 45 to 47 degrees, so the ~53 water in the Bay felt perfect! Single cap, suit, and no ear plugs with only the slightest of shivers at the end.

    The swim was nice, but not the aquatic highlight of the trip. My father's old college friend, an OW swimmer himself, stopped by the race and we had brunch afterwards. Upon hearing I'd be working near San Jose later that week, he sent a text to his niece, a swim coach down there, asking where I may be able to jump in a pool to do a few laps. The rest of the weekend, swimming-wise, was uneventful aside from a trip to the Sutro Bath ruins.

    It was through her, my father's frat-brother's niece, that I found the Santa Clara International Swim Center. Sneaking out of work for a few hours (something I've gotten very good at), I arrived at noon to find an eight lane, 50m outdoor pool. Aside from the heat, both aquatic and solar, everything about this pool was perfect. A far cry from the public pools back in NYC, and for the same price of $3. It turns out that the pool only runs long course on Monday, but Tuesday's and Wednesday's short course sessions were offset by the presence of 22 lanes, one of which was all mine for a full 90 minutes.

    With work wrapped up Wednesday night and a flight not until mid-day Thursday, I drove back up to the Aquatic Center on my last morning for a visit to the Dolphin Club. In short, I need to go back, but with a guide. The history, tradition, and sheer awesomeness of the place was evident, but I feel I missed so much of it! Herds of swimmers in and out of the water and up and down the stairs, highways of wet footprints across the floor...yet somehow no conversations other than how to use the locker room and what a good swim course might be. During a few loops of the Aquatic Park, I found myself missing the cold, clear waters of the Puget Sound. And the friends to shiver through a post-swim cup of coffee with. Time to go home.
  6. Rowdy Gaines - Triple Olympic Gold Medalist

    New Dates added for Triple Gold Medalist, Rowdy Gaines - July 4th -8th. Ages 14 to 100 welcome to join in this week long swim camp. Experience Rowdy, one on one, face to face and elbow to elbow. You will never have a coaching experience like this one....space is limited to 25.

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9NimE7eK7s"]YouTube - Costa Rica Dream Swim Camps[/nomedia]
  7. Back to the pool

    Today I swam in a pool again for the first time in over a week. I spent much of the last week in Lake Placid, swimming in one of my favorite spots in all the world, Mirror Lake:



    Mirror Lake is the smaller lake around which the village of Lake Placid is built. It measures about 1.5 miles by .5 miles, has a buoy line set up that makes swimming straight very easy, and doesn’t allow any motorboats. All that combined, plus the 74-degree water temp (on the high side for this time of year, but still very pleasant), made it a very swimmer-friendly place to vacation. We’ve spent some time there most every summer since first visiting in 1994 for an open-water race.

    I didn’t do workouts per se or record yardage while on vacation (or blog), just got in and swam however much felt good a couple of times a day. This morning when I swam in the pool things like streamlining and turning definitely felt a bit rusty!

    Here’s the workout I did this morning with the Asphalt Green masters. Since I’ve started my taper for zones in 2 weeks, I modified things as needed.

    500 lcm warmup

    500 swim, every 3rd length catch-up free

    5 x 100 FR/BK @ 1:50 [held 1:31-1:34s]

    6 x 100 (75 Kick fast / 25 easy swim) @ big rest [practices bobbing and sinking in between]

    6 x 50 choice race pace to feet @ 1:20 [I did odds fast, evens 40 easy/10 fast]

    After this, there was a longish set involving various equipment. I instead hopped over to an empty lane and did the following bit before getting out early:

    2 x (virtual 200 IM + 100 easy) [For my virtual IMs, I do the first and last 10-15 meters of each length fast stroke, the rest easy free, while mentally rehearsing my keys for the 200 IM, a race I’ll swim at Zones]

    200 warmdown

    It was nice to have a princess lane where I could do my little taper IM set without worrying about dodging other swimmers.

    Over the next couple of weeks my plan is to swim as often as possible, while increasingly limiting the amount of hard yardage I’m doing. I like playing in the water a lot while I’m tapering, and August—when many people are away, and the kids team is on a more limited practice schedule—tends to be a great time to find the space to do that.
  8. Governors Island race report

    This morning I did the Governors Island swim. Governors Island is a small (172 acres) island in New York Harbor just a 5-minute ferry ride from the southern tip of Manhattan, and today’s race almost circumnavigated it (because of difficult tides/ferries coming and going/air vent for the Holland tunnel, we skip the northernmost tip of the island).



    Getting to the race start required checking in, getting a special 6:45 am ferry to the island, walking over to another dock on the island where we were to finish, checking our bags and getting chips, boarding another ferry, riding around the top of the island to the race start, jumping off the ferry, and lining up behind 2 buoys for an in-water start. There were 200+ folks in the race, so it took awhile for everyone to make it off the boat and to the race start, but there was beautiful scenery to look at while we waited. Finally everyone got into the water, they started us, and the race was on!

    During the first half of the race we swam down the western side of the island. There were great views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Last year this part of the race had some significant chop and waves, but this year the water was pretty calm, and there seemed to be a slight helping current. As we rounded the the southern tip of the island, we could see the Verrazano Bridge in the distance. Going up the Buttermilk Channel, the only challenge is to be sure to stay away from the 3 piers. On the right is the Brooklyn waterfront—very industrial, with warehouses and big gantry cranes, which is kind of neat. The finish is right before the Holland Tunnel air vent (that little protrusion to the northeast at the top of the island), and it is easy to miss—you actually have to turn left and swim underneath a gangway, before you can see the exit ladder. Last year I overswam it and had to turn back; this year I did a better job sighting and swam right to it.

    I was with or near a group of about 7-8 swimmers during the last portion of the race, and worked really hard the last 300 meters or so trying to pull away from them. I got ahead of all but one guy (who obviously had the same idea as me about sprinting to the ladder!) and finished the race as the second woman overall. That surprised me, since there were plenty of women in the field who are better distance pool swimmers than me, but open-water races can be unpredictable that way. (And just for the record, I’m thinking of myself as the women’s masters champ this year, since the first place woman was just 15!) Overall, this year's race probably had more favorable currents and conditions than last year's--my time was 42:04, compared with 48:06 in 2009. I'm guessing a maximum of 30 seconds of that difference came from swimming the race better.

    The highlight of the day was catching up with a number of my open water buddies whom I haven’t seen all summer. I would have stayed out on Governors Island longer and enjoyed the hammocks post-race, but thunderstorms were threatening. (I did get some hammock time yesterday, when I went out to scout out the race course and when the weather was gorgeous). Chaos was there and won his age group, and I was happy to get to chat with him a bit afterwards. He was on Sharpie duty during race check-in, and incorporated a smiley face into my race number which obviously brought me luck.

    One interesting thing that they did during this race was to have a number of “Swim Angels” wearing different colored caps who were designated as helpers/calmers-down for anyone having anxiety or distress in the water. They basically just hung out in the water and made sure people were comfortable and happy, gave directional/sighting advice, etc. I think this is an idea borrowed from triathlons. They also had some volunteers on land doing the same thing before the race.

    Tomorrow we head off to Lake Placid for a few days, and I’ll get to swim in one of my all-time favorite swimming spots, Mirror Lake.


  9. Wednesday LCM workout

    I went to the 5:30 AGUA workout this morning. Here’s what we did:

    500 lcm warmup

    6 x 50 FR (25 overkick, 25 dps) @ 1:00

    6 x 50 ST (IM order twice thru, 25 fast, 25 easy) @ 1:10

    1 x 300 pull
    2 x 200 pull
    3 x 100 pull

    1 x 200 kick w/ fins flutter
    2 x 100 kick w fins dolphin
    4 x 50 kick w/o fins breaststroke

    1 x 300 FL/FR/BK/FR/BR/FR
    2 x 200 IM
    3 x 100 choice

    200 warmdown

    Yesterday I went to the Y and did weights, and also got in a mini swim workout. Here’s what I did:

    800 scy warmup

    8 x 25 kick, odds very fast UDK, evens easy

    16 x 25 swim, odds very fast IM order, evens easy

    400 warmdown

    I entered the Colonies Zones meet—I decided to swim just 6 events (50/100 BK, 50/100 BR, 50 FR, 200 IM). I had thought about adding the 4IM and maybe a 200 stroke as well, but I’m excited about having a more focused group of events to concentrate on during the next few weeks of training. Plus, with the first day starting at noon, I’m guessing I'll end up swimming 5 or even all 6 of my events within 24 hours, and will be glad I haven't committed myself to more.


    I’m also looking at open water races in September and possibly on through the fall. I’ve always been bummed that LC season and OW season are at the same time—they’re my 2 favorite modes of swimming, and I always feel like I’m missing out on one by focusing on the other. This summer I’ve mainly done LC meets—I’ve only been out open water swimming once (although I do have a 2-mile race coming up this weekend). But once summer is over, I’ll be able to swim with the CIBBOWS group on weekends for as long as I want. They have a race at Coney Island on November 6th, and it would be really cool to swim that. So I’m toying with the idea of extending my open-water season through the fall as long as possible. It’s been a while since I’ve acclimated myself to cold water, but I know it can be done.
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  10. New Forum Pic + Swim Across America + What now?!

    Well - it seemed like a really good idea at the time and for once - it was!

    Swim Across America - a late night of softball (missed my party because it ran so late) where I tore up my left knee and leg sliding into home, followed by a drive to chicago where I slept for a few hours, and was up at 5:20 AM and down at Navy Pier by 5:40 AM.

    I actually got some really cool pics of the harbor that morning. You can check them out at my Picasa Web Gallery. I'll be adding more as I get the hi-res versions available. All the pictures taken early in the morning were taken with my phone though. I like how they turned out!

    The swim went decently! I learned a lot of neat things on Saturday as a result.
    Lesson 1: I LOVE wetsuits! I rented my $5 wetsuit, put it on and immediately took a walk in the water - I was incredibly buoyant! Each step my legs felt lighter and lighter as the suit made picking my feet out of the water easier and easier! During the swim - this would help fix my body position and put me in a great place to just coast my way through the middle half mile.
    Lesson 2: Drafing ROCKS! Getting in the water - I had no idea how the swim was going to go. So I immediately started in the back of the pack. When you have 15 people swimming in front of you and dragging you along for the first (roughly) 1/4 mile... it's AMAZING. I was putting in virtually no effort, and just swimming along. Before too long, I was passing people left and right and I think I found myself towards the front of the pack when it came to miler swimmers.
    Lesson 3: Those wet suits are very VERY tight. Seriously, I got out of the water tired, disoriented, dizzy, and feeling drunk - sans the fun of having drank. Within a minute of me finally pulling the zipper open on the back of my suit - my chest opened up a LOT and suddenly oxygen was rushing through my body. It was kind of a cool feeling! Although - pulling the plants off my head and body was rather annoying in my disoriented state. I remember having a conversation with Coach Catie as I tried to walk inland:
    Me: Did I win?
    Catie: Good job Mike!
    Me: Yeah but did I win? (trying to stand without falling)
    Catie: Sure Mike, you won..... Are you okay?
    Me: (Stumbling past Catie) Yeah I think so...
    It took me about 5-6 minutes to regain my footing, and once I was able to breath and on dry land I was in much better shape. Speaking of being in better shape - that new forum/profile pic I have posted is actually my taken right after I got out of the water - hence why I look like I feel like I'm going to die.

    So I've decided I'm not a huge open water fan. I might do Big Shoulders just so I have competition to swim for in September. I'm kind of undecided about it all. I'm not a huge OW fan to start. Things like plant life, choppy water, weather.... those things aren't really my most favorite things in the world.

    That leads me to the most important topic: What now?!
    Some important things to know: 1) Our season ends August 1st. Next season doesn't start up until August 12th(ish). I am NOT taking 12 (or more) days off. If anything - I need to ramp up my swimming even more. SCY season is going to be here and I need to be able to destroy my times from last year!!!!

    So I'm going to shift my training to Lake Forest High School pool. The resident annual pass is $260, so I may just buck that out. That'll get me through next summer of doing up to 6 days a week of swimming (and even 2/days!!!) Since my masters team doesn't practice nearly enough for my liking. I'll probably see if I can pull some of my teammates in with me.

    As far as dry land goes: I'm going to talk to my trainer tonight. I'm thinking I should adjust my training to be far more plyometric in nature. I want to be able to build my sprints as much as possible this year - so by building those fast twitch muscles - I'm hoping to finally build up the ability to sprint (rather than whatever it is you say I do).

    I'm also not going to be doing the extra sports from now on. I've kind of made the decision for now I just want to focus on swimming and only swimming. Basketball has been fun, as well as softball - but they get in the way of my dryland and swimming workouts - and that drives me NUTS!

    Wow - that was a novel of a post! If you made it this far thank you! You win a cookie:
  11. Swim Across America

    Swim Across America is tomorrow....HOLY COW! SWIM ACROSS AMERICA IS TOMORROW!

    I'm NOT prepared for this at all! I'm supposed to be doing my first OW tomorrow, swimming a mile in Lake Michigan, and I haven't even thought about anything aside from the fact that I have to be there to help set up at 6 AM tomorrow.

    I'm going to be jumping into this one like I tend to do the rest of my life - without a single extra thought. (Lets hope I jump IN the water, not too soon or I'll just be eating sand.)

    So here's my schedule for tonight through tomorrow:
    Leave work in about 20-30.
    Get to Runner's Edge so I can try on wet suits so I know what size to rent tomorrow.
    Go home, mow the lawn.
    Shower, Lift at the gym (if I have time, legs tonight!)
    6:00 PM Play two softball games
    Go home, shower (again, I know)
    Get to Milwaukee for a party I'm helping host (You should come! PM me if you're interested!)
    11:30ish PM: Head down to home, pick up Greg from his mom's house (he's dog sitting) and go to his place in Chicago so I can sleep.
    5:30 AM UP AND ATOM! Time to help set up for Chicago's very own Swim Across America!
    7:00 AM Rent my wetsuit!
    9:00 AM Swim
    10:00 AM Call for help while swimming
    6:00 PM Leave hospital.... Oh wait, scratch these last two.
    10:00 AM-11:30 AM tear down, eat lunch and head home.

    So you can see - things usually get interesting. I have this weird tendency to over-commit myself. I get it from my mom.

    See you all (or not) tomorrow at S.A.A! Hopefully I won't be drowning!
  12. Bastille Day Free(dom) Workout

    This morning I swam the early AGUA masters workout. Here’s how it went:

    500 lcm warmup

    600 kick (alt. FR/ST by 50s) w/ fins [I went barefoot and did 500]

    Monster free set
    Broken 400 (resting :05, :10, and :15 between 100s, each 100 faster than previous one)
    Broken 800 (resting :05, :10, and :15 between 200s, each 200 faster than previous one)
    Broken 1600 (resting :05, :10, and :15 between 400s, each 400 faster than previous one)
    [I have a low tolerance for long freestyle sets. I actually made it through doing FR on the 400 and 800, but switched to IMish on the 1600, doing 4 x (50 FL / 50 FR / 50 BK / 50 FR / 50 BR / 50 FR / 50ish FR w/ mid-pool turn to catch back up. That worked out ok]

    200 warmdown

    One of my lanemates, John, donned paddles and buoy for the last swim and transformed himself into a Mighty Morphin Power Swimmer, going from near the back to leading the lane (and even lapping some of us slowpokes). It’s funny, and a little jealous making, to see how much of a difference equipment makes for some swimmers—buoys slow me down, and paddles don’t help that much. It makes me wish I had swim toys that would give me superpowers. The closest I get to that is fins, which do give me a lot of speed as long as I’m kicking (especially underwater), but don’t make that much of a difference on longish distance swims.

    During the Giro, when it was rumored that Cancellara’s bike perhaps contained a little motor capable of generating about 100 extra watts on hard climbs, it reminded me a bit swimmers who count on pull buoys to get themselves through tough sets. (The Cancellara rumors were false, it seems, but led to a number of riders having their bikes x-rayed after the TdF prologue. No motors found.)

    I’m getting excited about my next swim, the Governors Island Race on August 1st. It’s a 2-mile circumnavigation of Governors Island in New York Harbor. The island is a former Coast Guard post that had been abandoned for years before it was reclaimed a few seasons ago by NYC. It’s in the process of being transformed into a park, among other things, and there are currently a number of art installations and performances that go on there every summer. My favorite section of the island is this large meadow on the southeast tip where they’ve placed lots of hammocks and Adirondack chairs. There are beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty, and it’s a very mellow place to hang out on a summer afternoon. It will be a great place for a nap once I’ve finished swimming around the island!

  13. The Oregon Trail

    <-- Love this!

    So I had decided to take a long weekend and travel out to Oregon to visit my friend! We had a white water rafting trip with her church group!

    I arrived Thursday night around 11 PM, woke up in the morning and we went out to the Pacific beach in Lincoln City. It was approximately 70-80 degrees outside and VERY foggy! The water in the ocean yesterday (so I was told) was 53 degrees!!!! I was totally prepared though; I wore my old lycra jammers that were a touch too large and my swim trunks over top. It was so cold that I actually went numb!!! I managed to swim in it for approximately 10 minutes though! I would walk out in the water until it was about up to my chest and then swim up the waves as they came crashing down on me. It was an awesome experience because as the water would be SO cold as it came over my head my whole body would tighten up and I couldn't breath at all! It was so much fun! Then when I would walk back on shore - I would notice that I couldn't feel anything in my legs and would sometimes be stomping into the ground or kicking into the slightly higher ground. (That's how I figured out my legs/feet were so numb!) After I finally got out and dried off, we grabbed a small bite to eat and took a hike up and down the coast. Around 4:30 PM the air and sky finally cleared and we were able to see the cliffs off in the distance.

    Fortunately - I'm already relatively tan from my earlier meets in the year (the P.R. 1500 and the Badger State Games) and I wasn't burnt too bad from the ocean. My friend however, was lit up like Rudolph's nose! Poor girl... we still had to do the White Water Rafting the next day!

    Today (7/10) We went white water rafting. I was up at 5 AM PDT (7 AM CDT, so it wasn't bad for me) and we got in the car and drove 2.5 hours from Salem to Maupin and the Sage Canyon River Co to raft down the class 2/3/4 rapids of the Deschutes River! We had a blast! White water rafting was NOTHING like what I thought it was going to be though. I fully expected to get in the water and have about an hour complete adrenaline and paddling my off until we broke the the other end of the rapids and were just done for the day!
    I was completely wrong. We ended up spending about 90% of our time just floating lackadaisically down the river. Then there was that 10% of the time where our boat was completely flooded, often times we were @ risk of being thrown out and we were trying to paddle amidst the serious waves. Those parts were a complete blast!

    There was one part - where after we rafted through it, we were told to get out of the raft, walk back up stream along the bank and then jump in again and go through this part called "Elevators" - what an awesome time! I did learn something though and I figured I'd share it with the rest of you:
    NEVER EVER WEAR RUNNING SHOES WHEN TRYING TO SWIM!
    It was a fun experience yes. The ride down the rapids was a blast. Then when I was trying to kick and swim my way back to the shore line (the water was some 15-20 ft deep) my shoes would just catch water and pull me with the current. If it weren't for the fact that they're my only shoes that I have here this weekend I probably would've just tossed them. It was VERY annoying!
    So lesson learned! Good times were had by all! Lots of water fights between rafts as well!

    As much fun as it was though. I'm not entirely sure that its something I'm going to go out of my way to do again. I did have a great time, its just not what I was thinking it was. I'm thinking had it been that 1 hour of super intense adrenaline pumping paddling and constant rapids, I'd be all about it. Spending a day on "lazy river meets occasional small waterfall".... meh... I'll save my money and go to a swim meet instead (I could be at the Carbondale IL meet this weekend!)!

    Thanks for reading!