Day 1 in Iceland
by, May 31st, 2012 at 04:33 PM (1823 Views)
I'm in Iceland! I arrived yesterday morning on the overnight flight, went to the pool, cheered on teammates, warmed up in the outdoor pool and relaxed in the hot tubs before exploring a bit and having dinner. It was was all made very easy--my teammate Elizabeth kindly picked me up at the airport and delivered me to the apartment I'm sharing with Hannah and Amanda, both of whom have been here a few days already and could give me a brief orientation to the neighborhood.
After a salmon-and-potatoes feast we made our way to the IGLA opening party at the Blue Lagoon. It was simply fabulous. The organizers had rented out the entire place, so 300+ swimmers, polo players, divers, and friends had the soothing warm milky-blue waters to ourselves. It was very friendly, and with so many New Yorkers here I kept on running into teammates I hadn't seen in a while. Very fun to get to catch up with them in such an amazing setting, plus a very mellow and relaxing way to meet those from other places. An in-water bar and deejays kept things festive.
Enjoying the lagoon with teammates Danny and Hannah--photo from IGLA Championships 2012 fb page
We stayed at the Blue Lagoon until late, watching the sun not set. (I think it dipped under the horizon for a few hours around midnight, but it really is light 24 hours a day here--I got home just before 1 last night and the street lamps were not on, or needed). On top of the ample sunlight hours, we've had brilliant weather here ever since I arrived--impossibly blue skies, temps in the high-50s or low-60s that don't cool off much at night, and not windy at all. I haven't needed most of the warm clothes I've packed.
After the late night last night the 7am warmups came far too early this morning. It was the second night in a row I hadn't gotten much sleep (the first being on the plane Tuesday evening). And it wasn't just the late night--it's just difficult to sleep when it's so bright out. I thought a sleep mask would do the trick--I always travel with one and have had success using them in other situations--but here even with one I find myself awaking too early, even when when dead tired. I'm hoping that an earlier evening tonight will help me feel more rested.
But even without much sleep this morning I was jazzed to be swimming at the wonderful Laugurdalur pool. It's a beautiful facility, and this morning the sunlight was streaming in the wall of windows and making the water super-sparkly.
Warmups were relatively uncrowded--the 400 IM was the first event--and I felt good in the water as I went through my paces. The one thing I wanted to check out was the ceiling--several people had warned me yesterday that the ribs and beams in the soaring roof made it very challenging to swim straight down the lane. That was indeed the case!
Imagine a big beach umbrella with striping that runs horizontal to the ribs.
Now imagine swimming under a super-sized version of that, about a third of the way from the edge. That's what the roof looks like--big beams that run the width of the pool connect sections that are longer on one edge than the other, and large metal sheets with corrugations running fill the spaces between them. The orientation of these corrugations to the lane lines shifts as you pass under each beam in the ceiling. It's pretty disorienting. Apparently after they built this pool, they realized this might be a problem for backstrokers, so they painted a navy blue line on the ceiling over the eight middle lanes. (The meet was seeded in 10 lanes for most events, but just in 8 for BK and IM).
Here the blue lines look straight and the ribbing looks curved, but somehow when you're underneath it seems the other way around. I think a video is necessary to truly capture the experience!
These lines don't help as much as you might think--it felt like trying to work out an optical illusion. I eventually settled on just watching the lane line peripherally, as I would do if I was swimming outdoors. It was a good thing I had my own lane for the first bit of warmup this morning while I worked this out!
After warmups I had some time to stretch and change suits, and then it was time for my first event--400 IM. I went 6:35.74, splitting 45/51/49/48/57/56/44/42. (Full results are here.) It was a fun race--I was swimming right beside Hannah, and we finished just .2 apart after seesawing the entire race and synchro swimming most of the second 50 of the backstroke.
I warmed down 700m in the outdoor pool before heading back in for my second event of the day, 200 BK. On that I swam a 3:02.95 (43.3, 47.0, 46.8, 45.7). I only brushed the lane line three times, so I consider the swim a success. It was a little sobering sitting in the ready room and watching the fast heats of guys crash into lane lines right before we hopped in to swim. I think eyes closed might be the strategy for the 100 back tomorrow.
After the backstroke I had a long warmdown in the outdoor pool and got to cheer on teammates for most of the rest of the session. Eventually my last event rolled around--100 BR on the women's 4 x 100 medley relay, with teammates Leila, Amanda, and Emma. After feeling like I swam my first two races today somewhat timidly, I resolved to be a bit more aggressive on this one, and managed a 1:38.06 (45.7, 52.3).
After the relay I headed out to the waterslide! I'd been hearing reports all day on how awesome it was, and it turned out to be the most amazing waterslide I've ever been on, and easily the highlight of my meet so far. Lots of twisty turns, a couple of completely dark sections, and a light show before finally hitting the water at the bottom. It was a popular post-swim attraction. On the first run through I was a little slow, and my teammate Ryan managed to cleanly pass Hannah, who was behind me, before colliding with me right before we tumbled out of the tube. (I heard him coming, as he was screaming all the way down!) It was a blast--I don't think I've laughed so hard in a while as we all did when we reached the bottom, then stayed in the warm pool to watch our teammates' exits from the flume. Of course we all had to go again. I decided I have to refine my slide technique, as the boys seemed to be much faster. Hannah suggested we use bodyglide tomorrow. I think practice is essential.
So--that's my first day and change in Iceland. Hoping to manage some sleep tonight, and looking for more of the same tomorrow!