The New England LMSC Short Course Yards Championship, affectionately known as "the Harvard Meet," attracts close to 900 people each March to the Boston area for some fast swimming in a great pool. This year there are a total of 854 swimmers from across New England and beyond. The meet is spread out over two weekends, with Distance Day in the middle of March on a Saturday offering either the 1000 or 1650 for both sexes, and then the regular meet the following Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I have never competed on the distance day and last year didn't swim at all, so with my weekend off this weekend I signed up for the 1650 this year.
I was able to schedule a trip to Boston, my favorite city just three hours to the east of home, with my family and also squeeze in a swim at a pool I always look forward to swimming in. With our my daughter unable to attend and Jinho in Guatemala on a missions trip with the school, I rounded up my wife, Preston and Lina to join me. I also arranged to meet up with my aunt Pat, who lives a a few towns north of the city, to help show us around - she is apparently immune to the humid environment of the pool and tries to watch me swim when I am in town.
We headed out Friday and checked into our hotel in Cambridge after an easy drive in. I had requested a parking pass, but they were out; fortunately I was able to get street parking within view of the room for the overnight period. We took the T into Government Center and explored Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, deciding to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe for pre-race nourishment. While chilly, the moon was shining as brightly over the lights throughout the area and we had a wonderful time.
The next morning, I woke up before 8am in order to drive the car to the Harvard athletic area and park for free for the day. I walked from Blodgett Pool to Harvard Square to catch the T back to the hotel for breakfast. At this point I was able to get a parking pass (oh well, at least I would be covered for after the meet), and we headed out to meet my aunt at Park Street. We checked out the Old Granary Burial Grounds and Statehouse before making our way through the Commons, past the Ducklings and the Swan Pond, and down towards the finish of the Boston Marathon. We continued west on Newbury Street before getting back on the T to head up to Harvard. We farted around Harvard Square for a bit (there is the newstand with media from around the globe and checked out Newbury Comics before grabbing a quick bite at Subway (those new Flatizza things are tasty and not to heavy) before heading on to the pool. (I've been wearing a pedometer and so far had logged 11300 steps!)
How long is it going to take to squeeze into this?
Checked in, warmed up and waited. I was asking around for a counter, and met Matt from RI who was swimming in the heat before me in the shallow end so we counted for each other. Harvard has the main competition pool, 5 lanes in the diving well (29 yards), then 6 lanes in the shallow end. For distance day, you can opt to swim in the shallow end with an in-water start and save $2 on your entry fee; since this is my first 1650 (I did the 1500 scm at Riverton a couple of years ago) and my training has not been focused, I choose to swim there [Really, I'm just cheap ]. Matt had a great swim (his first mile, too - way to go, Matt!) and I quickly went from the turn end, grabbed my goggles and cap and hopped into the start end for my race.
My plan going into the swim was to string together 3 x 500 then finishing out with a strong 150 to complete the 66 lengths required for the race. I maintained a comfortable pace and lead over Jon in the lane next to me for the first 500, working on two dolphin kicks off the wall and 13 stroked per lap. I increased to a strong kick for the first 4 strokes off the wall in the middle 500 and was able to stay ahead of Jon. I felt tired in the final 500, and around 47 Jon caught me as my upper back/shoulders tightened up, actually sneaking ahead in the mid 50's. I decided to pick up the tempo at 59 (a little earlier than I planned) with increased turnover and a stronger kick, battling back and forth with Jon. I gunned the last fifty and just touched out Jon, coming in at 19:38.89! What a race! I ended up taking first in my age group for the event.
(rx in the green cap FTW!)
Event 4 Men: 35-39 1650 Yard Freestyle
1 rxleakem 36 Bennington-NE 19:57.75 19:38.89
32.49 1:06.14 (33.65)
1:39.93 (33.79) 2:14.82 (34.89)
2:49.73 (34.91) 3:25.51 (35.78)
4:01.03 (35.52) 4:37.08 (36.05)
5:13.64 (36.56) 5:50.09 (36.45)
6:26.14 (36.05) 7:02.19 (36.05)
7:38.81 (36.62) 8:14.97 (36.16)
8:51.13 (36.16) 9:27.72 (36.59)
10:04.57 (36.85) 10:41.70 (37.13)
11:18.35 (36.65) 11:54.62 (36.27)
12:31.42 (36.80) 13:07.75 (36.33)
13:44.25 (36.50) 14:20.92 (36.67)
14:57.90 (36.98) 15:34.06 (36.16)
16:10.23 (36.17) 16:46.25 (36.02)
17:22.62 (36.37) 17:56.84 (34.22)
18:32.58 (35.74) 19:08.21 (35.63) 19:38.89 (30.68)
*Note that twice I had the same 50 split, something I have always found awesome in others swimmers.
The second occurrence was back-to-back; a combo bonus!
** So I swam: 5:50.09, 6:04.53, 6:02.22 plus 1:42.05. Probably took the first 500 out ever so slightly too fast.
After a quick warmdown (totaling 3774 yds for the day), we brought the car back to the hotel and took the T into town for dinner at Jacob Wirth/'s German Restaurant, in honor of our exchange student. I refueled with Wiener Schnitzel. We had a great time, capturing this photo before saying good night to my aunt after an excellent day:
Preston (yes, he is 16 and that tall now), Auntie, Rx, and my beloved.
This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took the long way home on Route 2, driving through Lexington and Concord to check out the pivotal starting points of the Revolutionary War along the Minute Man National Historical Park. We took some pictures at The Wayside, Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott penned Little Women), Emerson House, and finally Walden Pond, which is on my bucket lists for an OWS.
Another most excellent swimming adventure!
Updated March 16th, 2014 at 10:18 PM by rxleakem
Just back from another great weekend of racing in Boston at the New England Masters scm championships. I really like the Boston University pool, even though I spent a lot of time in the outside lanes. Ahh, OUTSIDE SMOKE! (there was some inside at the hotel, you'll get there if you keep reading).
Here is what I entered and how I did (seed times were either PB or "I think I should be able do this time." I'll update splits another night:
06 100 SCM IM 1:11.62
- Strong fly and back, felt like I didn't lose ground on the breast, then sprinted home. Felt really good. This one gets a
08 200 SCM Breast 3:13.31
(43.84, 49.72[1:33.56], 50.03, 50.09[1:40.12])
- Gridge #1 of the day - I was one person shy of swimming with AZTimm, and he beat me, as expected
- Race was good; I had to choose at the 100 if I was going to really start hammering or not, and I really didn't, opting to continue another 50 of "ride the glide." Happy with the time.
12 200 SCM Back 2:24.82
(34.19, 35.44[1:09.63], 36.01, 36.04[1:12.05])
- Super duper psyched with this swim. I put a lot of effort into working the underwaters more and staying in control for the first 100, then hitting the accelerator. My wife taped it - my left hand is doing something funny on entry, so I need to address that. Slipped on the wall at 125, and I probably don't have to remind everyone that this event is perhaps the most painful of all since it is so kick-driven. My quads were screaming the whole rest of the meet, but I loved the pain.
18 50 SCM Fly 0:31.20
- Mimicked Fort (not really duplicated since I don't think she swam it) and blasted the underwaters. Popped up a few meters shy of the yellow line going out, and took 10 SDK's off the wall on the way home. This was a really fast time for me.
20 200 SCM Free 2:14.30
(31.01, 35.15[1:06.16], 34.45, 32.37[1:06.82])
- Another fast swim with a slightly altered strategy from my normal 200. Felt strong on the front half but need to really start grinding it out earlier in the second half.
Day 1 done (flogged 1350 meters and 1500 yards), and off to dinner with my wife, son, SwimStud, Fortress, and AZTimm at a Mexican place across the street from the pool. Glad the day ended somewhat early as the joint was hopping when we left. Excellent dinner and conversation, although I have to say that chicken chimichangas are off the menu during weekend meets from now on, I don't want to repeat the gut rot anytime soon.
Got to the hotel shortly (didn't stay at meet hotel, but found another one close to Fenway that had breakfast) after 6pm, so lots of time to relax. Was debating on taking an Ambien to help sleep and I was pretty wiped out so fell asleep by 9:30ish on my own. Good thing, as right before 3am the fire alarm went off. First time in a hotel that this has happened, apparantly due to some people smoking pot a few floors above us. Left most of my stuff in the room (save goggles and suit in case save a reply of Backdraft loomed), and around 3:45 we got the all clear to leave the lobby and go back upstairs. Finally got back to bed closer to 5 and up at 7:30.
Back at the pool for Day 2, my aunt Pat came down to sit in the sauna on her day off. I see her a few times a year, and just like when we were kids she makes a point to be a cheerleader for us. <3
30 400 SCM Free 4:45.57
(31.85, 35.02[1:06.87], 36.05, 36.54[1:12.59,2:19.46],
36.79, 36.62[1:13.41], 36.50, 34.46[1:10.96,2:24.37])
- This was gridge number two, the five-way parlay looking for greatest time drop. That Guy, can you get the results posted for us? Q-brain was the winner I believe.
-Was 8 seconds faster than last year, and I felt in control. I am still weary of inflicting too much pain at this distance, and could have stepped it up a notch around the 225 mark, but didn't. The gridge (as always) really forced me to put a lot of effort into swimming faster than normal, so I am much obliged, gentlemen.
- I counted for Tim's great swim and he reciprocated the favor - thanks again, Tim.
34 100 SCM Free 1:00.43
went 58.22 (lane 10)
- :fistpump: I wanted to get under 1 minute, and was surprised at a low 58. I went old school splitting on this: 25 strong (87%), 25 build, 25 SPRINT, 25 whatever is left. Worked out well; I don't mind the pain on the 100's.
38 50 SCM Back 0:31.15
went 30.64 (lane 10)
- So I thought that there were 10 heats, but there were actually 8. 7 was in the water and I was still farting around behind the blocks, then the timers shout my name and I to the water. The judge mentioned "worse than the 8 and unders", but I think he was talking about my start.
- with Fort - I SDK'd 12 going out and came up even closer to the yellow lines than yesterday's fly, slipped on the turn, SDK'd 10 and churned home. I think I won this gridge by two tenths of a second.
- Apparently in the warmdown lane I "cannonballed" SwimStud, as all of a sudden, in my weakened state, he grabbed my ankle and dunked me. Sorry Rich, but good times in the warmdown pool nonetheless.
44 200 SCM Fly 2:43.33
- Saturday night I was strongly trying to persuade myself to swim this wonderful event again, and after the "Cyprus Hill gathering" way past my bedtime I decided to skip it. I swam it a month ago in Maine, and I wanted to focus on my last event. Sorry to let the Butternuts among us down. :TargetShootingPracticeOpen:
48 100 SCM Back 1:07.75
- This one gets a
- Reverted to old school 100 splitting again, and went 32.83, 32.93. Was able to keep my SDK's off the walls as planned (8,6,6,5) and although I jammed the first turn the final time was excellent.
(Flogged 2150m and 800yds)
So, nine swims and nine PB's (many multi-second drops), great times with my family as well as swimming friends (including ones not on the forums), first near missed swim and false fire alarm at the hotel, exceeeded max number of images in blog post and needed to edit, and dinner with ice cream from Friendly's on the three hour ride home. Can't wait for next year!
Updated December 31st, 2012 at 05:02 PM by rxleakem
Dear Charles River Swimmers, the water quality looks great and we have received permission to hold the race tomorrow. Water temperature is 73 degrees.
I swam in the Charles River during the fourth one-mile event! Testing out that Dirty Water. Tomorrow we'll see if any strange skin conditions result!
The race started at 8am this morning, and I decided that I did not want to drive three hours this morning so I stayed overnight in Leominster at a Motel 6 right off route 2. I figured that I had an hour more to travel this morning, so I left at 5 and arrived at the Alewife T station just before 6 to catch the Red Line to Charles/MGH. I got off the train and walked to the Espanade , getting to the registration tent around 6:40am. Oh, did I mention that it was raining? Yep - steady drizzle with some stronger showers the whole morning.
I checked in and decided to repack my bag before checking it after getting marked up. I took off my sweats and put them into a plastic bag with, keeping only my warmup pants and jacket (and wet shoes) on. By 7:30, I was feeling cold as the wind picked up a bit, shivering and the like. At 7:45 we had our pre-race meeting, and I stripped down to my suit - the field was split roughly in half with folks wearing wetsuits and not, with me not wearing one. I donned my yellow cap marked "3" and headed to the dock with my fellow racers as the gray sky hung low above the skyline to this glorious city.
"No diving into the water because we don't know what's in there - we don't want anyone landing headfirst into a shopping cart."
We all hopped in after being warned and enjoyed the warm water, although viability was not much farther than arms reach in the murky greenish water. After treading water at the start buoy for about a minute, the race was started as we took off west towards the Harvard (Mass Ave) Bridge. I noticed that my shoulders were tight, likely from not doing enough kinetic stretches before the event. After rounding the first buoy towards the Cambridge side of the river, we entered into the roughest chop on the course, powered by a steady wind coming out from the city center. The second buoy came much quicker, and after rounding that we made our way on towards the Longfellow Bridge. Here is where the taste of oil and gas entered into my senses, and I flipped over and swam backstroke for about twenty cycles. I was able to increase my stroke rate and catch a small group off the lead after the last buoy, and motored to the finish line.
I am pleased with how I sighted the race, having only to make two major corrections throughout. I lift my head for a quick sight and rotate my head into a breath, usually every five or six arm cycles, until I get closer to a buoy. One of the things I love about OW swims the ability to watch as a mass of swimmers enters the water, and then take a peak during the race and see arms stroking just above the water. I didn't notice the water falling during the race, but the precipitation never let up. Maybe all of that acid rain helped to counterbalance the river water?
After the race I made my way back to the tents and sampled some of the vendor's treats before getting some coffee and bagel. Due to the rain there were very few spectators and the swimmers just packed up and headed out shortly after finishing. I walked back to the T with my wet warmups and dried off before going up to the station's platform, as my repacking kept my dry clothes mostly dry. I met some other swimmers (not too many other folks walking around with numbers on their skins) on the train back to the station, and we talked of the swim and our need for a very thorough shower! They laughed as the Harvard stop went by, opting out of joining the master's group there for their Saturday morning practice. I got off at Alewife and took the long, raining ride home.
So, how did I do? Not sure yet! I forgot my watch, and at the finish only our race numbers were shouted out to the timers. I checked with some of the folks I finished near, but they were fine with just getting to the end point. Once I get the info, I'll update this entry. As for now, I am happy that the event went off and I was able to take the plunge into the murky, I mean, mighty Charles. I would recommend this swim, as it was safe, well organized, and you can join me in 'going where humans should not go' (according to a friend).
*** Addendum: Results for the swim are up, and I finished in 23min 56sec. If you have the facebook you should be able to see my picture album here (nothing too exciting). ***
Just a friendly reminder to turn on your lights while driving in the rain for everyone's safety. Oh, let the little ducklings cross the road, too (I did this twice).
Updated June 11th, 2012 at 11:10 PM by rxleakem
Just pulled into station from our trip to Boston for the weekend. Another excellent meet with fast swimming and plenty of time for socialization with the other 887 swimmers from New England and abroad. I spent most of my days hanging out with my adopted team, Cape Cod Masters, but was able to check in with fellow bloggers [ame="http://forums.usms.org/member.php?u=4899"]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] and [ame="http://forums.usms.org/member.php?u=5129"]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]. I also met some new folks, including the Kosiorek brothers, who I went to UMass (Amherst) swim camp with way back in the day, and Justin B, who is battling the GTD with me (at least we always seem to be neck and neck). I was able to better all of my Masters best times, so it was a very successful meet for me.
Friday, March 16
#10 Men 50 Freestyle Time: :24.37
WENT: 24.22 r:+0.92
This swim felt good. I was a tad slow off the blocks and didn't start attacking it quickly enough - need to work on breathing less and just powering it.
#12 Men 200 Backstroke Time: 02:11.88
31.27 1:04.28 (33.01)
1:37.15 (32.87) 2:09.15 (32.00)
I split this really well and was happy to swim it during the first day of competition this year. Two second time drop, still need keep at those SDK's off the walls - went 7,5,5,4,3,2,1 and streamlining, which fell apart in the last 75. Still, first place finish for my age group.
#14 Men 100 Individual Medley Entry Time: 01:03.18
WENT: 1:02.88 r:+0.83
28.24 1:02.88 (34.64)
Dropping time, which is the goal. Felt really good, not too much to comment on here.
** Early night - at the hotel by 4:30ish. Took a nap, had supper, and then went to the planetarium (Boston Museum of Science) with my daughter to watch a flick about the universe - amazing stuff.
Saturday, March 17
#24 Men 50 Butterfly Entry Time: :26.84
WENT: 26.48 r:+0.75
Played with more SKD's - helped a little. Good swim.
#26 Men 200 Breaststroke Entry Time: 02:55.14
WENT: 2:52.84 r:+0.84
38.89 1:24.37 (45.48)
2:08.62 (44.25) 2:52.84 (44.22)
Wow, I actually gave a some fruit to the 200 breast? Yuppers - my goal for a FIRST EVER EVER 200 breast was to break 3 minutes. I focused on LONG underwaters (just about made the 15m mark the first four), swim an easy 125 then rock it home. Was a good swim (I've been working pull and kick from my Cape buddy Jim), and Rich suggested tossing the kick at the end of my pull after he swam. You'll recall my slow pace put him into a trance and the announcer had to call "SwimStud, wake up and get on the block." It was as if St. Nick was dashing down the stairs at Harvard, as I saw him spring onto the lane 3 platform then rocket off to a PB. Dude is awesome.
#32 Men 200 Freestyle Entry Time: 01:57.19
WENT: 1:56.62 r:+0.77
27.55 57.50 (29.95)
1:27.68 (30.18) 1:56.62 (28.94)
Felt really strong, and I used a forceful two beat kick for the first 50, then gradually added legs after each turn. I waited until the 75 flip to really pick it up, and I will start a little sooner next time and attack the 3rd 50 more.
#34 Men 100 Backstroke Entry Time: :59.45
29.18 58.78 (29.60)
Finally under the 59 mark, and based on the swim I need to take this out faster - I think I can hold on the back end. Dan from Pittsfield noted that I was not driving my shoulders enough, so I will work on that.
** This was not only my long day, but the meet's, as we got out around 6:30pm. That was a lot of swimming - I just ate supper and went to bed.
Sunday, March 18
#42 Men 200 Individual Medley Entry Time: 02:22.47
WENT: 2:14.31 r:+0.80
28.14 1:00.99 (32.85)
1:44.72 (43.73) 2:14.31 (29.59)
Wow! I went 2:22 in January, so this was a SIX second drop for me - still hard to fathom it. I stayed strong on the fly, worked the shoulder rotation (with less kick) on the back, then busted a long while shifting my kick for the breast before bring the free home. Jim noted that I did not lose time on the Breast, which I have always done before. It felt awesome, so it is getting the Chiquita®.
#44 Men 50 Backstroke Entry Time: :27.76
Happy with this swim. The only thing I will note, without a hint of whining, is that in lane one the flags do not fully extend over the lane - they are clipped to a plastic line. I was really far from the finish when I pulled out the "Leake Lunge," and could have short stroked it for a quicker time. Still, I was happy to get a little faster.
#52 Men 100 Freestyle Entry Time: :52.60
WENT: 52.14 r:+0.79
25.23 52.14 (26.91)
This was a good swim, and I was right next to Dave F. from the Cape on this one. I swam it 25 strong, 50 sprint, 25 last swim of the meet ... probably could have gone out with more intensity on the first 25 and gotten under 52. That will have to wait until next year.
*** Beautiful day in Boston, 70 degrees, St. Patty's Day parade (which the family took in). I feel really blessed to be able to swim in this neck of the world, and to have this great facility and meet to dive into. For the 3 hour ride home I always take Rt 2 back to Vermont, driving through Concord like Paul Revere, past Leominster (birthplace of Johnny Appleseed) and Gardner, the furniture capital of New England before you get to the the toilet paper factory in Irving. Lot's of history here. A great meet, and our prayers for save travel and competition were answered. Now, I am going to complete my warmdown for the day with a dip in the hot tub, then .
Updated March 18th, 2012 at 10:01 PM by rxleakem
I headed out this morning spot on 6am for the 3 hour drive to Boston, with my daughter as copilot for the meet at BU. Having messaged aztimm and others yesterday, I texted him to sign me in for the 400 FR as this closed at 9:15. Good thing, as I got to the pool about 5 minutes later - thank you very much, Tim!
I got in an easy warmup, as my goal for this meet was in line with this season - get times by not to duplicating events and see how close those scy -> scm conversion tools are. I did:
200 FR/200 bk/100 Fly drill, some 50 swim/kicks, two sprints from blocks and another 200 at the end (around 1000m).
I met up with aztimm before after warmups and thanked him again for checking me in. I think I ran into Fort and Stud after the 400, then slknight dropped in before noon and said hi. I also said hi to mrubacky (missed him at the Riverton meet) along with some of the folks from Maine, Cape Cod, and Pittsfield that I have met at other meets.
The meet is being run through swimphone here:
http://www.swimphone.com/mobile/meet....cfm?smid=3514 so you can check out everyone's results. I have linked my results below:
400m Free: Goal: 4:55.Swam: 4.51.57
- Felt really good. I tried not to go out too fast and settled into a strong two beat kick with DPS strokes. I was hoping to obtain consistent, even splits but that did not happen so much! I has happy to negative split it, and it was nice that someone counted my laps for me - still not sure what kind soul did that.
100m IM: Goal: 1:13. Swam: 1.11.62
- I had a strong underwater with the start, and even stayed under 5 more meters than I planned. In typical fashion, I had a strong first 50, then tanked the breaststroke leg. My buddy Jim from the Cape shouted at me to "stretch" but I still struggled through. Someday I will invest the time to figure that stroke out ...
(100y w/d, a long couple of hour break, then a quick 100y w/u before...)
50m Free: Goal: under 27. Swam: 26.88
- This felt good, but I had a bad turn and didn't stay underwater past the flags on the final lap. Oh well, I am still really happy with this.
200m Back: Goal 2:25. Swam 2:24.82
- I had a decent start and good underwaters for the first 100. I was definitely searching for the walls at the 25y mark, as I seemed to float forever into the wall. I tried to ramp it up heading into the half way point, but I could not get my turnover turning over. My turns in the second half were lackluster, proving I need more conditioning for this distance. But I am super excited about this time!
(100y w/d, then out)
(1750scm, 700 yds total for the day)
My meet is over for now, as I am back in Vermont and getting ready to hit the hot tub before work tomorrow. Overall I felt very fast and happy I made the trip down today to swim, and watch some other really fast swimmers. My daughter met up with a friend and checked out the school more than our tour this summer allowed.
Again, it was great to meet more of the forumites and check in with other friends at the meet, especially a great 200 Breast between aztimm and Stud and Susan rocking the 200 Fly. Everyone is helpful in answering my questions about training and competing. I am turning my attention to a "squad meet" this coming Tuesday at my home pool that I will be running - trying to get other swimmers in the area to "catch" the competition bug like me for next year.
Updated December 11th, 2011 at 11:28 PM by rxleakem