been a long time since I’ve done a swim meet.
They’re always fun with the exception of the fact that you have to get
wet. And then you get cold. Then you get wet again. Cold again.
And by the time you get to the 200 free you’re really tired of being wet
year, to be a team player, I signed up
for the meet. You see, our masters team
has been state champion a few times. The
pressure to participate in the meet builds and builds until finally you either
give in or face the scorn of the entire team being labeled as one of those who did not swim at the meet. There are entire lanes of those people at our
practices. You don’t want to in there!
year, they alternate the 1000 free with the 1650. I’ve done the 1000 free a few times at the
meet, never impressed with my performance, feeling that when you take away the
draft of my big boys (I routinely swim with 3-4 men who are well over 6 feet
tall and each over 190 lbs), you take away most of my swim speed. After all, I am a self-proclaimed fake swimmer.
know fake swimmer tweets some of her finer swim experiences? Like the other day when someone in the lane
next to me said did you know that you don’t
roll your shoulders with backstroke?
Hmmm…. do you know that I only
lane line pull instead of backstroke?
Or when someone new enters our lane as says Liz, you haven’t led yet, would you like to lead? Clearly you do not understand how this lane
works. I do not lead! Or the time we
were doing our 200s on a descending interval which ended at the 2:30 – the coach
looked at me and said Liz, you realize this
set ends on the 2:30 which was her polite way of saying, Liz do you realize
there is a slim chance that you will actually make this send off so save
yourself now and go on the 2:40. My
response? I have paddles.
year, I signed up for the 1650 for the team, with no particular plan, no
expectations that I would swim any faster than I do in practice. When I seeded myself, I randomly pulled a
time that I recalled seeing in the past when we did a timed 1650 at distance
free practice. As the meet got closer,
Jennifer informed me that I sandbagged my time.
It occurred to me that I should do the math to figure out the pace I said I would swim and Jennifer was right
– it was a little slow. But not as slow
as the person I watched in the first heat who seeded herself at 40 minutes and
dropped a sub 19.
Friday night, my heat went off at 6 pm.
I warmed up 1400 yards, just like we do at masters. I talked to the coach before my heat, telling
her that I hadn’t dove in years and didn’t intend to dive tonight! To me, it just wasn’t worth it. The risk of losing my goggles over the course
of a 1650? Besides, what would a dive
save me, 2 – 3 seconds? The coach told me there would be 3 short whistles
and then one long whistle. When I hear
the long whistle, I would get into the water.
I know that for swimmers, me showing up in a pink swimsuit, not diving, not
flip turning at the state meet is like any of you showing up to walk a 5K with
your dog and a stroller.
As 6 pm
neared, I stood behind my block. Because
the 1650 was so crowded (and so long) there were two to a lane. The guy sharing my lane assured me that he
wouldn’t get in my way. I told him it
didn’t bother me! The guys I swim with create
a massive wake of churned water and lost paddles. I was actually looking forward to having someone
in the lane with me because it would feel more like practice!
starter called us to the blocks. After
one long whistle, I did what I was told – got into the water! Unfortunately, it
was NOT my heat. It was my lanemates
turn. And that is how I was told to get
OUT of the water at the state meet.
Fantastic start for the fake swimmer!
And not the least bit embarrassing.
Need I also
tell you that while everyone else was in a fast suit I was in a pink flowered
Dolfin Ugli suit?
in my heat, 3 short whistles, one long.
I hopped in. According to the psyche
sheet, there were a few women in my age group who had already swam and a few in
the wave with me. I knew that I needed
to beat every woman in my heat because there were no other women in my age
group swimming for the night. If I swam
fast enough, I could be state champion!
went off and I bolted!
was simple: 500 steady, 500 build, 500 strong, 150 all out! I felt great!
There are those times in the pool where you get in and immediately know
that you have it or you don’t. It’s that
elusive feel for the water. Tonight I
felt that. Soon after starting, I had
passed most of the women around me in the other lanes and then set my sights on
lapping them. I had no idea what pace I
was holding, I just kept trying to pick up the pace and gain more time. All of this while open turning! And, yes, several times, Timmy told my
counter: tell her to flip turn!
the wall over 40 seconds faster than my seeded time. When I got out, I saw some posted results and
was pretty sure I had beaten everyone who had swam in my age group. I cooled down with the glory of knowing that
fake swimmer could prevail! You don’t
need to taper, shave, flip turn, dive and wear a speed suit to come out on
top. You just need some luck (there
really was no one fast in my age group) and freakish endurance (I can hold the
same pace allllllll day).
alas, the glory was short-lived. When I realized
that someone in an earlier heat had seeded themselves at 37 minutes but ended
up going about 3 seconds faster than me.
I don’t actually understand how you can underestimate yourself by 15
minutes. That’s like starting the 5K by
the 11 minute per mile sign when you’re
fit enough to bust out sub 6’s?
seconds. And it goes without saying, those were the 3 seconds I spent not diving.
Fake swimmer, POINT TAKEN.
the end of the night, I ended up 2nd in state. My mom wants to know when I get my
ribbon. I told her I didn’t know. She also wants to know if I beat the guy in
my lane. Yes, my mom admitted she had no
idea what was going on during the meet.
It was confusing, there were
people swimming in every direction!
I know a
lot of triathletes out there get scared or frustrated by swimming. I used to be one of them! I’m certainly not the fastest in the pool but
over time I’ve made big gains. Swimming is
a complicated sport – it’s technical, it’s got its own language. Even going to a meet might seem very daunting
– how do you seed yourself, when exactly do you swim, what do all of the
whistles mean, what is a psyche sheet. Or
attending masters practice (no, you won’t be the slowest and yes, you will fit
in!). Don’t be scared to do something
because you think you’re not ready or don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have to dive, flip, fly to give it
your best. You just have to SWIM! Same
goes for trying a cycling race or running a track meet. You can spend a lot of time in life worrying
that you don’t have the speed or skill set to do something. But if you have the desire to do it – why not?
holding you back?
Jen Harrison & I are hosting a triathlon-specific swim clinic on Sunday, May 19th from 2:45-4:45 pm in Naperville. $39 per person. Each athlete will learn:
Three personalized observations to improve your
How to improve efficiency through proper use of
swim drills & equipment
Open water drills & skills to develop
confidence & faster swim splits
For registration, contact Jen at jhtriathlon at sbcglobal dot net