The Koury Natatorium pool holds a special place in my heart for two reasons. I attended my first senior nationals spring championship meet here in 1989 as an age group swimmer at the age of 17. My dad and Coach Tim Firstbrook made the trek to North Carolina with me from Minnesota to attend the meet. I recall seeing Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders compete here as a very young swimmer. Although I only competed in the 50 free at that meet, it was a great opportunity to participate in this competitive environment and take home some college sweatshirts from UNC and Duke. Then, 23 years later, I qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in this same pool! As you can imagine, this pool is really special to me.
My good fortune in the Koury Natatorium continued this past weekend. I competed in the Quad long course meet with my MOR team. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to swim 50 fly on our MOR 200 medley relay and split 27.9, which gave me confidence about my speed work. Unfortunately, there is not a separate warm down pool when the pool is set up as long course so we walk around the pool deck to warm up and warm down. The officials allow for a few breaks during the meet for swimmers to pop in the water and this adds an extra challenge to the timing we are accustomed to when preparing for races during the meet.
My second event on Saturday was the 100 free and it followed immediately after the 200 medley relay, giving me only about 10 minutes before I had to race again. Although I was still breathing hard from the relay, I swam a decent time of 59.89 for my race. After the race, MOR Coach Brandon Hicks suggested I breathe every third stroke during the first 50 and then switch to every fourth stroke for my second 50, so I'm excited to try this new strategy in my next race.
I was fortunate to race the 50 free twice on Sunday. The first time was during the individual race and I posted a time of 27.02. I was excited when my timers shared with me that they timed me on their watches at 26.5 and 26.7, although my time on the scoreboard stood as the official time. My second opportunity to race came about three hours later at the end of the session. I led off the senior girls 200 free relay. As a lead off swimmer, I requested an official split from the meet referee. Although I made a mistake on my finish by taking an extra stroke into the wall, I was happy to see my time on the scoreboard as 26.87. That time was 5 hundredths of a second faster than Mesa...Making progress!
After the meet, I got a text from my friend, Jen Stringer, informing me that we had broken the MOR team record in the 200 free relay with our time of 1:51.45. That was a little extra surprise! Along with Jen and me, our other MOR relay teammates were Dominique Quintero and Grace Countie. After patiently waiting for the Sunday session to end, it was time to enjoy lunch in Chapel Hill at Mama Dips restaurant with Mom and Dad and Eric.
Our next long course meet is five weeks away at the Bumpy Jones Masters meet in Sarasota, FL. I am excited to compete with my fellow NC Masters swimmers Kerry Lindauer, Alicia Uhl and Jen Stringer. Together we are hoping take down five FINA Masters long course meters relay world records. We always have so much fun swimming together and these records would be icing on the cake!
With no competitions for the next several weeks, it's time to put in some hard training in both the water and the gym to get stronger and faster!