The Arena Pro Series is a series of meets many of the best swimmers in the world attend. Michael Phelps made his return to competition after a six-month suspension for a DUI. Additionally, many Olympians from around the world also competed in Mesa, including Ryan Lochte, Elizabeth Beisel, Natalie Coughlin, Katie Ledecky, Katinka Hosszu, Matt Grevers, Lia Neal, Jessica Hardy, Amanda Weir, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Simone Manuel, Nick Thoman, Caitlin Leverenz, Conor Dwyer, Tyler Clary, and Cullen Jones.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Eric and I flew to Mesa two days early in order to adjust to the three hour time difference from Raleigh. It was a good decision since our early evening flight was delayed several hours and we ended up arriving at our hotel in Mesa at 3am EST! Needless to say, I was glad that I did not have to race the following morning!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Warm up and great food!
After enjoying a great southwestern lunch with Eric, I headed to the pool to get in a warm up and pick up my credentials for the meet. As frequently happens at these meets, several people assume I am a coach since I am a bit order than most of the other competitors…
I warm up in lane 6 and survey the markings on the bottom of the pool to help me plan my finishing strokes during my 50 free the next morning. I see an Arena sign on the bottom of the pool that I decide will be my marker to help with my finish. Later that night, heat sheets come out for the next day and I'm assigned to lane 1. So much for my plan to use the Arena sign as a marker since it is not visible from lane 1. This seems to happen to me so often that it has become a running joke. I guess I should be use to it by now.
Friday, April 17, 2015
My first race-If not successful...try, try again
Putting on a brand new race suit can be a challenge because they are very tight. With no one I knew to assist with my straps, you have to rely on the kindness of strangers. It just so happened that Olympian Lia Neal was getting ready next to me and was happy to lend a hand. Earlier that morning during warmup, Ryan Lochte blew past me effortlessly like a shark. Once I realized who it was, I felt a little better about how easily he flew by me.
At race time, I was ready to go in heat 5 in my outside lane. I committed to a no breather 50 and was feeling pretty good for the first 2/3 of the race. Unfortunately, I died coming into the wall. When I turned to look at the clock, I was 8th in the heat with a disappointing 27.48. This was so frustrating because I really wanted to see the 26's at this point in my training. I immediately hunted Eric down for cash so that I could register for a time trial after the prelims session ended that morning. I knew I could do better and decided to take one breath to see if this would make a difference in my finish.
After waiting over two hours in the Arizona sun, I gave it another shot and took my breath about 2/3 down the pool. This time, I turned to look at the clock to see 26.92 pop up. Finally, I posted my fastest time since the summer of 2013-making progress.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Time to Focus on Long Course Training
My second event for the meet was the 100 free on Saturday morning. As usual, I pulled lane 1 again! What are the odds? The first half of my race felt nice and controlled, but coming into the finish, I died and finished with 59.76. That was a good bit off of my best time of 57.99, but was certainly a decent time and great experience to race long course. Luckily, long course training will pick up in the coming months and I will work on my endurance and managing my energy and effort during these races.
Phelps and Lochte 200 IM and 100 Free Showdown!
Besides the excitement of my races, Eric and I had front row seats to watch two of the greatest swimmers of all time. Lochte and Phelps renewed their Olympic rivalry during the meet. We watched Lochte beat Phelps in the finals of the 200 IM. Clearly, Phelps was not going to lose to Lochte twice on the same night. Predictably, Phelps took Lochte out in the 100 free out touching him by .05 hundredths of a second. I hope you will take a look at the pictures we posted from the meet. It will give you a great sense of the intimacy of the event. There are not many sporting events where you can sit literally just a few feet from some of the greatest athletes in the world.
I made progress in Mesa and feel like my training is starting to show results. I am 2 months into my 6-month leave of absence from Golden Corral and starting to feel stronger and faster every day. Time to train hard for the next few weeks in advance of the Quad Meet at UNC in Chapel Hill on May 2-3. In 2012, I qualified for the Olympic Trials at this pool, so I am excited to return and race there!