Masters Swimming allows us to return to the sport we enjoyed in our youth. Eric and I, along with many of my Masters teammates travel all over the country enjoying the camaraderie of our fellow Masters swimmers who make up over 60,000 swimmers as part of U.S. Masters Swimming. Upon returning to competition as a Masters swimmer, most of us find that our competitive spirit never died! This competitive fire led me and and three fellow NC Masters teammates (Jen Stringer, Kerry Lindauer and Alicia Uhl) to get together in an attempt to break five FINA Masters relay world records in Sarasota in the 160-199 combined age group. An interesting fact that we learned about our relay is that all four of us are only children.
We headed to the Bumpy Jones Classic in Sarasota last Thursday. Shortly after checking into our hotel, we quickly learned that this was the hot spot in Sarasota as the locals enjoyed the Tiki Bar and live music around the pool. Lucky for us, our room was just a few steps away from the action! In true Florida fashion, the weather was incredibly hot and steamy. After warming up under the summer sun on Friday evening to prepare for our 800 free relay, a siren went off indicating that lightening was in the area. Unfortunately, the Friday evening session was canceled due to storms and so the 800 free relay had to be rescheduled to early Sunday morning. Since the four of us are all sprinters, we desperately wanted to have the longer relay behind us.
By Saturday morning the stormy weather was gone and the hot Florida sun was starting to heat up. The first relay on Saturday was the 200 free relay. We knew this was going to be a tough record to break and that we all needed quick starts. Although we missed breaking the record by just .89 hundredths of a second, we swam fast and felt like we were positioned to take down the other records in our sights. Our next relay was the 400 medley at the end of the Saturday session. I led off backstroke, Kerry Lindauer on breaststroke, Alice Uhl on fly and Jen Stringer as our freestyle anchor. Although I loved being outdoors and enjoy the sun, it is not your friend when doing backstroke because you are looking straight into the sun and it is disorienting. As a result, I banged into the lane line several times during my swim. By the end of my leg, I was happy to have Kerry to take over on breaststroke. This time we succeeded! When Jen hit the wall, we had broken the world record by over 5 seconds!
After a quick breakfast, we headed to the pool early on Sunday morning for a quick 30-minute warm up to get ready for the rescheduled 800 free relay. As sprinters, we were all feeling a bit anxious about swimming 200 meters each. I had convinced them it would be worth the extra pain at the chance to get a new record. The Sarasota Masters created a fun environment during the meet playing upbeat music during the sessions. Fellow Masters swimmer, Steve Robling and his wife, Melanie, led a coordinated dance to the music on the deck with pom poms to cheer us on along with Kerry's daughter, Sophia, Jen's husband, Sean, and my husband, Eric. This made us all forget the pain of getting ready to swim an 800 free relay. By the time Kerry hit the wall as our anchor, we had smashed the previous world record by 14 seconds!
Next up was the 200 medley relay. We each swam the same strokes as in our 400 medley relay the day before and we knew that this was going to be the toughest record yet. We knew we had to have aggressive exchanges and great swims in order to break this particular record. Unfortunately, missed it by only .09 hundredths of a second.
Our last relay was the 400 free. This relay started just 10 minutes after we all had just competed individually in the 50 free. Although we were still breathing hard, we were ready to tackle our fifth relay. We were next to the Sarasota men's relay and they really pushed us during the race. Kerry anchored the relay again and touched first ahead of the Sarasota men. And with her strong finish, we celebrated breaking our 3rd relay world record by 11 seconds.
It was an incredible weekend shared with these amazing women. We had so much fun and are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from our friends, family and the swimming community. A special thanks to Eric and Sean for capturing the weekend on film.
Next up for me is focusing on dropping more time in my 50 free. Eric and I leave this Thursday for a USA-S meet in Houston with Coach Silver's Marlins of Raleigh. This meet will be a prelim/final format....and it will be indoors.
Below are two articles published about this past weekend's meet.