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Meet Director's Path to Tranquility

Yes Virginia, The Coconuts Are Real

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"People seem to enjoy things more when they know a lot of other people have been left out of the pleasure."
-Russell Baker

On Sunday, we had a swim meet.

146 out of 189 attended. Usually, about 12-15 do not show up in a normal year. Subtracting those from the signup, we can assume 28 swimmers did not make it due to the snow. Most of them were out of towners - I do not blame them for staying home.

Here's how meet day went down:

I arrived at the pool around 7:05. The roads were mostly wet and a little slushy in a few places. The parking lot was cleared of snow. Jane and Michael already had the luau hospitality set up and roaring. The two rookie check-in people were there eager to receive their instructions.

Michael Boyle from RMST was the first person to show up around 7:15.

I requested that the pool manager turn off the underwater lights. These are an annoyance to us swimmers during our workouts there - they are like swimming into high beams on a highway.

First problem - equipment. Again. For a third year in a row. Our Mother Hen head timer stopped by a coach's house to pick up the sound system early that morning because he was sick and snowed in for evening setup the night before. The coach had never bothered to set up the equipment (or pack it up) at home and check things out before handing off to us. Setting up the speakers on meet day, we found there was no power cord for them. Mother Hen offered to drive back to the coach's house to pick up the power cord after a quick phone call to him.

Needless to state, the music program was obviously screwed up. No music for warmups, at least the beginning. She arrived back a half hour later at 8:00 in time to initiate our warmup music just as the sprint lanes began. Jimmy Buffet and Margaritaville would have to wait until next year.

Officials showed up on time, were given the timeline, and told that we needed to speed it up if possible. We use one minute between heats as per J-Rod's experience and suggestion, and have been a bit ahead of time in the past.

The check-in was going well. Teammates brought lots of donations - the luau hospitality room was well stocked. A group of swimmers posed outside in the snow with their swim suits and leis. One even did a start into a snow bank. I printed out the meet records and posted them in the hospitality room. I printed the meet seeding (with deck entries) and posted on the wall. My big meet director's surprise for the meet: our national anthem played on steel drums by the Trinidad and Tobago steel drum band to start things off. I remembered to set out the lap counter cards. We started 5 minutes earlier than the time line. Everything else from then on hummed along.

After about an hour, we realized that we were ahead of schedule. At the half-way break, we were about 20 minutes ahead. I breathed a sigh of relief. The results were being compiled in a timely manner.

A few coconuts were placed on the awards table to entice signups for the coconut relay. The reaction was amusing to me. Swimmers would walk up, curiously look at them, cautiously roll them on the table, touch them, pick them up, evaluate their weight. You would think they were looking at alien moon rocks. Yes, the coconuts are real.

Kelley Lemmon, 97 year old DC Masters member and inductee to the International Hall of Fame showed up and swam his 50 free. After prodding the crowd on the sound system, he received a loud cheer and standing ovation at his finish. He and his friends had asked me not to make a big deal or fuss prior to his swim since he was nervous about his first meet in over 20 years. He was appreciative of the privacy, and of his recognition after the swim. Inspiration was not in short supply.

The meet ended at 1:20 PM - 40 minutes ahead of schedule. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Several comments after the meet indicated swimmers enjoyed the meet. I will post them later.

But wait, tranquility is not here yet. There is more work ahead.

"I will post them later:"
Ray...you are a doll!! Thanks!
Glad some counties know how to clear the streets!!!! It is still a sheet of ice around here....and of course no school for the kids tomorrow!!!! Maybe I should take up ice skating!!
I do hope the meet was a success. I had heard that you guys put on a great meet and everyone has a blast....I am so sorry that I had to bag it.
Thank you for your assistance with the refund! (No t-shirt.)
Be safe out there and thanks again....hope to see you at the meet here in RH next month... Lisa


Hi Ray,
This was my first Tropical Splash ever ! I have heard of it for years, but I am not usually ready to compete in January ! It was tons of fun and of course, having Kelley there was remarkable.
I have really missed out all these years.
Thank you for everything ! I saw old friends and met a couple of women who were 60 + in their first meet ever ! They had a blast !
I am sorry I did not order a t-shirt. Are there any more? If so, I would come pick them up; I live in Arlington. Not sure if Kelley ordered one - I would get him one and one for me as well.
Thanks again for a beautiful, fun meet which has got me excited to train for National's !
All the best, Ann


Thank you for a great meet. The hospitality shown to those who managed to mush their way through the snow was awesome. The tropical theme reminded me of my younger days and brought a smile to my face. The competition was keen and the meet ran flawlessly, in fact I was a little surprised how swiftly it completed. Iʼm looking forward to next yearʼs event.
Thanks again,Bob


Hi Ray, So sorry , the weather didnt cooperate for us (MARY- team). We have always enjoyed your meet and the atmosphere it creates..Thanks for
emailing me back regarding the check...Fondly, Sue


Thanks for hosting a wonderful meet. We look forward to being there next year.
Have you considered keeping track of the coconut relay results as a part of the meet records? It's a fun thing for us to look forward to every year and it'd be nice to see progression, I think two teams broke 1:40 this year, which based on what I could see back to 2004 are the fastest times.
Anyhow just a thought.
Cheers, John


Hi - I just wanted to drop you a line and congratulate you on running a great meet! I look forward to TS 2011.
Best regards, Tony


Here are some photos I took at the Tropical Splash swim meet from my team. These photos are from the Arlington Masters swim team. I hope you like them. We had 9 swimmers from our team attedning and swimming in the meet. Thanks for hosting such a fun meet. I have swam in this meet for about 5 years now.
Ellen


. . . It is a great meet and lots of folks agree with me! It's all the little things you all do that makes it extra special.
My new swimmers are looking forward to next year (and want to learn to dive & flip now). Thank you so much for all you do! - Ann

Thank you for a great Tropical Splash meet! As always it is a fun meet and the little tropical touches and spirit of your team are
wonderful. Michelle

Ray, Thanks so much for the T-shirt and special attention at the Tropical Splash. I always enjoy swimming in Virginia and seeing my old friends.
The meet was just great. I liked all the extra decorations (flamingos, fish handing from the backstroke flags). I really liked the meet program, listing the new masters swimmers is a great idea. And how nice to see so many names!!
And the goodies were great. The Gatorade probably helped me swim better. I was hoping for 3:10 in the 200 breast, so I was really happy with 3:07. My days of under 3 minutes are long gone.
Thanks again. See you next time I swim in Potomac Valley. Joann

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Updated October 20th, 2010 at 11:14 PM by Rnovitske (meet comments included)

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