The past few months have been busy at Golden Corral while I have been rebuilding my training following eight weeks of dealing with a stubborn upper respiratory infection. It is now crunch time as I continue to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials. The Olympic Trials time standard must be met no later than June 20. Fortunately, there are several meets this spring that I am registered for and where I can qualify. I am excited to take advantage of these opportunities. My next long course meet is next weekend on April 2 at the Speedo Senior Sectional zone meet in Richmond, VA. Although this meet is out of our zone for North Carolina, I received permission to compete as an out-of-zone athlete, which means that I am only permitted to swim in prelims. Luckily, this pool is incredibly fast as it was used for the 2008 Olympic Trials!
I continue to tweak my training and find ways to adjust to generate the extra speed and power that I need. Our Raleigh Area Masters Swimming coaches, Jonathan, Sue and Steve have added additional sprint training to our RAM practices. Additionally, Coach Paul Silver is focusing me on "punching" my stroke up front. In order to simulate this in our strength training sessions, my trainers Wade Harris and Derek Armah implemented boxing and resistance movements for strength in the front of my stroke.
Recovery during my training is even more critical at age 44 si I can get the most out of both my strength training and time in the pool. I'm excited to implement a new recovery system with CryoNC, which is a 3-minute nitrogen vapor cold therapy designed to reduce inflammation that takes the place of ice baths! In between long course meets, North Carolina is hosting this year's U.S. Masters Swimming spring short course yards national championships in April located in Greensboro. More updates to follow on my progress.
Since returning to work at Golden Corral following my six-month sabbatical or as Coach Silver calls it...my "swimternity leave,"the time has flown by. It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner! My Golden Corral family really made me feel appreciated when I returned to the office in August. I immediately fell back into a routine, including final preparations for our annual convention, executive compensation planning, and initiating several different recruitment strategies. The time I spent away from the office focusing on training was invaluable because I am still benefitting from intense strength training and the increased focus on my technique that was made possible because of the time off.
During the Olympic year, we are fortunate that many meet organizers offer long course meets in the winter so that swimmers have more opportunities to qualify for Trials. In non-Olympic years, winter meets are short course yards races and those times do not count for the Trials cuts.
Earlier this month, Eric and I traveled to the University of Minnesota to race in the Arena Pro Series meet. It had been over three months since I had a long course meet and I was anxious to see where I was in my training. After three attempts in the 50 free, I was happy to get my time back down to 26.58 in a time trial. It was a great experience. In addition to having a good meet, we also got to watch Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Simone Manuel, Ryan Lochte, and Katie Ledecky race.
I have worked hard keeping up my training schedule. Istrength train 3 days a week and swim 4-5 times per week before and after work. I try to get in 1-2 sprint resistance workouts each week to keep my speed work tuned up. The most challenging part of my training is consistently eating healthy meals at lunch. I have also found several great protein bars for snacks in the mornings and afternoons before practice. Planning ahead is definitely the key to eating better while working full-time.
On Sunday, Eric and I leave for Seattle to attend USA-S Winter Nationals in nearby Federal Way. We are taking a few extra days to visit and explore the area and enjoy the incredible seafood. As the clock starts to wind down on the opportunity to qualify for the Trials, many swimmers will be at the meet chasing their Trials cuts! At this meet, I will focus on lengthening out my stroke and "swimming bigger" up front in my race as opposed to my fast turnover rate. Another great opportunity to work on shaving more time off my in 50 free in pursuit of that 26.19!
For the last official long course meet of the summer season, we headed to Geneva, OH, located on Lake Erie for the U.S. Masters Nationals Long Course Championship. The Spire Institute provided a beautiful facility including a fast and deep Myrtha pool. Although only a small group from North Carolina made the journey, we had a great time participating on relays with our teammates from all of North Carolina. We even took home 4th place overall in the meet as a regional team with our small team presence.
Although our NC women were aiming for two additional relay world records, we were faced with some struggles and missed both records. Among the group, we had strained backs, bronchitis and asthma attacks. Nevertheless, we persevered and were national champions in both our 200 Free and 200 Medley Relays. It is always fun swimming together and cheering each other on.
I swam the 50 free three times during the meet, including the individual race, relay lead off, and official 50 split in the 100 free (26.71, 26.53, and 26.59). Although I did not hit the Olympic Trials qualifying time of 26.19, I was encouraged with my progress this summer and excited to drop a little more time at this meet. I am now only .34 hundredths of a second away!
In addition to lowering my 50 free time a bit, I swam lifetime best times in the 100 back (1:08.81) and 50 back (31.38). The 50 back time was also a new national record. My 50 and 100 fly times were near best times with 28.41 and 1:05.75. Masters Nationals is always so much fun because we compete as a state, rather than our local team. We also get to meet and compete against swimmers from all over the country. It's so motivating to talk with other swimmers about what brought them back to the sport. The level of competition is always great, even in the 90+ age groups!
I returned to work with past week at Golden Corral. I'm so grateful that Golden Corral gave me the opportunity to train over the last six months. I will continue the journey and look forward to working with my coaches and trainers into the fall and winter. The qualifying period for the Olympic Trials continues through June 2016. There are several long course meets this winter and spring going into the Olympic year, so I will continue to chase that 26.19!
Race Video: Women's 200 Free Relay - 26.53 Lead Off Split