Long Beach Grunion's Holiday Invitational
by, December 11th, 2009 at 02:38 PM (2554 Views)
I'm very pleased to report that this was my 10th Holiday Invitational at the Belmont Olympic Plaza pool. For the last decade, I have flown from New Mexico to Southern California for the final meet of the year. If you have not gone to this meet, it is very well organized and run. It was the largest SCM meet in US and many Grunion volunteers and officials worked very hard to successfully run this fantastic event.
One of my goals for this year was to reset the mens 55-59 age group backstroke records. For the first time in my 44 year old swimming career, I did reset the 50, 100 and 200 meter short course meters world and American records. These swims were done in a full length Blue Seventy. I feel justified in my belief that my 50 and 100 meter swims were the best. The former record holder for the 50 swam his race in a B70. For the 100, I was one second faster than Tim Birnie's old record. Tim swam his time before the advent of the swim skin and I have heard estimates that the swim skins provide about half a second per 50. In the 200, I was 1.2 seconds faster than Jim McConica's mark, but his swim was performed before the B70. I know because I swam next to him when he broke the mark (and we were both in fast skins). So I can't fully justify the 200 backstroke mark and would like to give Jim the credit. He is a great swimmer, an Olympian, a member of the swimming hall of fame and the driving force for building the Ventura County aquaplex.
If you have read my previous posts, you may know that suffered a significant personal tragedy - my partner of 10 years and the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, decided to cheat and then ended our relationship one week prior to a major swim meet in Toronto. I had high hopes for that meet (to reset a number of SCM age group records). She seemed to time the announcement and betrayal to maximize the amount of suffering. And she was very successful. I lost 15 pounds in that week and was exhausted during the entire meet. Fortunately, the good lord opens other doors -I made friends with both Karlyn Pipes and Don Graham - who sheparded me through the most difficult meet of my life.
Now - after my performance at Long Beach (and at National Senior Games at Stanford this summer), I finally feel that I have accomplished some of my personal goals and thus, regained my self respect. My message is that swimming can help you overcome major life tradegies and that the friends that you make thru swimming will be there to support you.
I've stayed in contact with Karlyn over this year and as I have said before in my blog, she is a really wonderful person. You may read about her amazing swimming accomplishments and be somewhat jealous, but let me tell you, she is much, much more than just a famous name. She is the real deal - she has a great heart and a great mind and embodies what a masters champion swimmer should be. If you get a chance to participate in one of her clinics, you should! She really knows swimming and she really understands the psychology of a champion athlete.
Back to Long Beach - it was great hanging out with the Mud Sharks - Eric, Billy (goat), Don and Doug. It was great to see Cokie is swimming fast and building a great team. It was good to see Lucy Johnson - the original meet director. I had a chance to talk to Jim McConica after my 200 back and express my admiration for his championing the sport of swimming. It was wonderful to see Ande and Jeff swim so bloody fast. They are great guys out of the water and very willing to share their knowledge of swimming.
I met a number of fellow masters swimmers - Bob Strand - who is absolutely one of the funniest swimmers on the planet. Gotta love his joy and energy. I made friends with a number of Rice swimmers (Rick Kammerer - a fellow backstroker) and with a number of Manatees (Allan, Juliet and Sarah - but missed seeing the fastest moustache in masters swimming - Jim Clemmons).
I've already organized our crazy holiday swim - 111 x 100 @ 1:45 - and passed out invitations to the local teams, the high school and as many masters as are in the area. I don't know how many takers we will get, but it should be fun - as long as I don't mis-count.
My plans for 2010: Atlanta, Puerto Rico (everybody I've talked to wants to go to the PR (and PR)). And of course, Long Beach.
Finally, my brother, who held the 50-54 age group record in the 400 IM for about a week, should be pleased that his 200 breast stroke record should hold up for this year. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only two brothers to have simultaneously be in the USMS record books - and in the same age group. That is, until Long Beach. A fantastic swimmer - Jamie Fowler, rewrote a number of records in the backstroke and IM - and I no longer hold the 50 backstroke record (in the 50-54 age group).
Best wishes for the holidays!
See you in the water...
Philipp (aka Phishy)