Strength training four days a week, combined with lots of pool time was starting to wear me down as we headed to Sarasota for the Bumpy Jones meet last month, but I knew that this would pay off later in the season.
Despite our record-breaking Masters relay performances with my NC Masters teammates, my body was tired and sore. The fatigue was apparent in Sarasota with my 27.46 in the 50 free, but I know that it is all just part of the process.
Four days after returning from Sarasota, Eric and I left for Houston with my MOR teammates to compete in the Woodlands Texas Senior Meet. I hoped to drop my 50 free time, but knew it would be tough with so little time to rest and more travel.
During prelims in Houston, I swam a bit faster than the prior weekend with a 27.38. I continued to tweak my breathing pattern and decided to take one breath during prelims like I had done in my last couple of races. While doing so, the coaches noticed my tempo slowed going into and coming out of taking the breath. The resulting inefficiency can be critical in races where hundredths of second count. Although I was anxious about it, I decided not to breathe in finals. It seemed to work since I finished in third place overall with a 27.20. This race gave me confidence to return to my no breather 50, which I had used in the past. I have swum several 50 free sprints in practice with no breath since then with good results. After Houston, I was looking forward to getting back into my routine and catching up on my rest.
In addition to being able to train more, an added benefit of taking 6 months off from work is the ability to participate in more community activities. On June 28 I participated in a fantastic swim clinic. As most of you know, we recently lost our dear friend and fellow swimmer, Brian Goldman, to colon cancer. In support of his Mudpuppies swim team and to support the continuing fight against cancer, a Swim Across America fundraiser and swim clinic was held to honor Brian. I volunteered for the clinic along with Olympian Sue Walsh; UNC Swimming Head Coach Rich DeSelm; Duke Head Coach Dan Colella; NCSU Coach Gary Taylor; Olympian Charlie Houchin and open water champion Ashely Twichell. We had so much fun with the kids and enjoyed sharing our knowledge with these young athletes.
As part of our Raleigh Area Masters partnership with the City of Raleigh, our team volunteers to help with City swim meets. Most of the swimmers are just starting in the sport and it is great to see their excitement. My favorite is watching the 6 and under kids swimming to the 15-yard rope. Most are very anxious and stop several times to grab onto the lane line, but the joy on their faces is priceless once they reach the finish line. The parents are so incredibly supportive with their cheers of encouragement while taking pictures and video on their cell phones.
Back to training. Since taking off from work in February, my first training goal was to establish a strong base of strength and endurance with lots of time in the pool and weight training. After four months of hard training, my focus is now on sprint and speed work. This includes short resistance training with chutes, fast bursts of speed work, 25 and 50 sprints, and sprints with tubing. Recovery and fine-tuning technique are now key heading into a long stretch of meets in July and August.
Eric and I head to our alma mater, The University of Georgia for Senior Sectionals next week on July 8 along with MOR. This meet will be a prelim/final format and includes amazing competition from the southeast. Two weeks later, we head to Greensboro for Senior Champs. I’ll also race just the 50 free at Tar Heel States at UNC the following weekend before heading to Ohio for Masters Summer Nationals the first week of August. The next month will be a whirlwind of meets and travel, but I’m excited to see how my hard work pays off.
Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!