Two weekends ago I swam in a small, local long course meters masters meet. Racing under any condition is always a terrific opportunity to check in and assess. Here’s what I learned from swimming the 50 free, 200 back and 200 IM.
50 Free, 35.59 (Just missed the LCM QT* of 34.42 for my age group, vexing!)
I can see why people swim 50s—they’re over so quickly, and are kind of fun. I’m not about to become a sprinter though. Looking for differences among tenths, not seconds, would make me crazy. Especially as one of my childhood swim nicknames, “sticky feet,” is still appropriate today. But, I felt that I got off the blocks better than usual this time. My other insight? About 25 meters in I realized, “Huh. I bet I don’t have to breathe every stroke in a 50.”
200 Back, 3:11 (Way off the 3:07.97 QT, crumbs.)
I particularly wanted to try this event at this meet because it was held indoors—I could use the ceiling to swim straight instead of ping-ponging all over lane like I do when outdoors. Number one discovery? This is kind of a hard event! But it was fun to get a base time here to use as a yardstick to hopefully see future improvement. Second discovery? My walls really need work—my turns and finish were glide-y-drift-y slow. Third discovery? While not horrible, my start could benefit from more “spring” to get up and over the water.
200 IM, 3:04 (Solidly under the 3:12.68 QT)
I haven’t swum this in a few years, but the result was exciting for me as it’s the fastest I’ve done as a masters, and while unrested and at altitude. It’s a good indicator that I’m doing well building back from surgery last year, and bodes well for my 400 IM, especially as my turns felt decent for once.
–I’m pleased I completed all three events. There wasn’t much time in between my swims (just an EZ 200 and bathroom or water break), and typical for me, I was cold prior to my last event, the 200 IM. But I didn’t cave and scratch. Instead, I got motivated and gave that IM whatever I had left for the day.
–I’m pleased that keeping my head down off the blocks and turns has become automatic and not draining. It’s something that I’ve been working on in practice all summer.
–I really prefer cool water for racing and training. Such a temperature difference from the outdoor pool I’ve been training in this summer and the indoor one at the meet!
–This meet was perfect timing for me. I’ve been a bit un-focused this summer (it’s been easy to get a bit lazy with no taper meet scheduled. Think: showing up at the pool without any practice goals or even sets in mind!) Racing helped clear the cobwebs and get me re-committed to better practice habits.
–My Dolfin LTF Pro suit is a good match for this type of meet. It fits well (for me that means I’m not aware of it when racing), it’s holding up well over time, and being a step up from a training suit (but not my full body tech suit) it’s special enough that putting it on gets me into “race mode.”
–A shout-out to Coach Mark Johnston: His advice to pick one event to focus on then two “just for fun” works well for me at these short, fast, local meets. This time, the 50 free and 200 back were new to me, and thus relaxing. I didn’t have any goals other than seeing if I could make the QTs and get base times for future progress check-ins. The 200 IM was the event I wanted to work, which I approached with a few pace and tech goals in mind to achieve.
–Finally, I realized that I’m done with wrangling multiple bags at meets. I want to get one that’s large enough to hold everything. The worst was at Short Course Nationals this past spring, when I wasted so much time and energy going up and down stadium seating, getting this or that from this or that bag. Packing a padlock will also be the norm from now on because if day lockers are available, I can store whatever I don’t need (e.g. shower stuff, dry towel, day clothes/shoes, etc.) until the end of the day and thus carry much less on deck.
*One of my self-challenges this summer was to see if I could make all of the long course meters qualifying times in my age group for my “off” events, either during a meet or practice.
Next week: Summer Recap