Three 50's in Chapel Hill

I am heading to my final long course meet this summer at U.S. Masters Nationals in Geneva, Ohio. Knowing I had Masters Nationals approaching, I decided to swim only the 50 free this past weekend in Chapel Hill.   I am familiar with the pool and it required no travel.  The meet was set up as prelims and finals, along with time trials.  It was an age group meet including 12 and under so I really stood out at 43.  During the race video at the end of this post, you can hear the announcer joking about our age difference.

I raced the 50 free three times on Saturday (prelims, finals and a late night time trial). The fastest of my three attempts was in the finals session with a time of 26.71.  Although this was a little slower than last weekend's time in Greensboro (26.57), it was good experience heading into this weekend  at Masters Nationals.  Since the meet was local, I had some friends from Golden Corral come to cheer me on.  They included Robin Lowe, Sue Carpenter and her husband, David, in addition to my mom and dad and Eric.

This week I focused on speed work, technique and continued rest to extend my taper.  Eric and I fly out to Cleveland tomorrow morning.  Although I've never been to this pool, I've heard it is an incredible, state-of-the-art indoor facility called the Spire Institute.  My individual events include the 50 and 100 fly, 50 and 100 back, and 50 and 100 free.  Our NC women are hoping to take down a few more relay world records, but we need to overcome a few injuries.  We bought these cute hot pink NC tank tops for our relay...North Carolina Strong!  

50 Free Race Video - 26.71 (Lane 4 - Blue Cap)

                                  NC Women tank top for U.S. Masters Nationals

                                  NC Women tank top for U.S. Masters Nationals

Shaving Off More Time in Greensboro!

This past weekend, we headed from Raleigh to a very familiar pool in Greensboro for NC Sr. Champs with my MOR teammates.  With my taper just starting, I was anxious to race after backing off of weights and training.  The primary focus for this weekend was my 50 free.  During Saturday's prelims, I dropped a little over .3 seconds with a 26.57.  This was my fastest time in three years and just .38 of a second from the current Olympic Trials cut of 26.19.  For context, I swam 26.60 when I first qualified for the Olympic Trials at age 16 in 1988 and 26.32 when I qualified again in 2012. So, I still have some work to do!  

I finished finals later than night 3rd overall and was very consistent with 26.59.  During both races, my finish was not quite on as I finished too short in the morning and then too long at night. Definitely room for improvement there to hopefully drop more time during my next race.  It was a fun finals swim at night as several NC State girls I know were also in the final heat in addition to my fellow Masters swimmer, Kerry Lindauer (age 40).  

In the coming weeks, I will continue to work on my stroke rate and increase my efficiency.  The idea is to slow my rate down while increasing the power of my stroke. I've made some improvement, but need to focus on this more in practice so that it becomes second nature in races.  

To top off the weekend, my sister and brother-in-law made the trip from Suffolk, VA to see me swim.  We also celebrated Jimmy's birthday together, making the trip even more special!   

This weekend I plan to race just the 50 free at Tarheel States at the UNC pool in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Aug. 1. It's a great pool that I'm very familiar with and just down the road from Raleigh.   

50 Free Race Video - 26.57 (Lane 5 - Blue Cap)

Celebrating my brother-in-law, Jimmy's birthday!

Celebrating my brother-in-law, Jimmy's birthday!

Fun Times in Athens!

This past weekend, Eric and I headed to UGA along with my MOR teammates to compete in Sr. Sectionals in Athens.  It was a competitive meet with several collegiate teams and Olympians participating including Ryan Lochte.  The 50 free was held on the first day of the meet and I swam 26.87 to make the C finals at night, which tied my fastest time this year.  Although I was disappointed to swim slower that night at 27.22, I planned to time trial the event a few more times throughout the meet to make some adjustments to my race.  

The following day, I participated in a time trial after the prelims session.  I stuck with my no breather race, but made some adjustments to my breakout in the start.  Additionally, I focused on "swimming bigger" to reduce my stroke rate slightly in order to sustain my speed at the finish.  My third attempt resulted in a time of 26.92.  

On Saturday morning, I swam the 100 fly.  I focused on taking the race out more controlled so that I could finish strong.  It worked and and I went a lifetime best time of 1:04.99.  I was encouraged now because I could see that my hard work was starting to pay off!  Following finals that night, I swam another 50 free time trial.  I really wanted to focus on my "swimming bigger" technique and not worry about the time.  Although I need to refine this new technique, my fourth attempt resulted in my fastest time of the weekend with 26.84.  

My final race in Athens before heading back home to Raleigh was 100 free.  Again, I wanted to take the race out more controlled and Coach Silver suggested that I breathe every third stroke the entire race in order to finish strong.  I went a 59.10, which was my fastest 100 free in several years and was further evidence that my training was starting to kick in.    

While we were in Athens, we also had the opportunity to see my former UGA swim team member and dear friend, Caroline.  Her son, Josh, also participated in the meet and we got to cheer for him during his races.  He is hoping to follow in his mother's example and swim for a top-tier college program. Eric and I also had lunch at Rafferty's, where we first met in 1993.  

Overall, I was encouraged with my progress after the meet.  Now, I am looking forward to building on this momentum with some rest and a strategic taper heading into Greensboro next week for Sr. Champs, followed by Tarheel States in Chapel Hill and then Cleveland in early August!  

Long-time UGA swimmer buds Caroline Horne and Erika

Long-time UGA swimmer buds Caroline Horne and Erika

Ready for Fast Swimming in July!

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.  

To view a news report about the event, click here.  If you are interested in making a donation to Swim Across America in honor of Brian, you may do so here.  

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!    

Pictured here with Swim Across America clinic participants. 

Pictured here with Swim Across America clinic participants. 

Fun in Sarasota and New World Records!

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.     

SwimSwam Magazine Article

Swimming World Magazine Article

Our group hug says it all!  (photo captured by Eric Braun)

Our group hug says it all!  (photo captured by Eric Braun)

Sarasota Bound for Bumpy Jones Classic!

After several weeks of hard training, the next few days will be about resting and tuning up for the Bumpy Jones Classic long course meet in Sarasota, Florida.  I am looking forward to competing with my fellow North Carolina Masters Swimming teammates!  In addition to enjoying the Florida sunshine at this fast outdoor pool, our NC women are attempting five FINA Masters World relay records during the three-day meet including the 200, 400 and 800 free relays and 200 and 400 medley relays in the 160-199 age group.  Masters relay age groups are a combination of the four swimmers' ages.

We are grateful to the meet director for arranging for the meet to be USA Swimming observed. This means that our times will count for both FINA Masters Swimming and USA Swimming.  In addition to our relays, I am swimming the 50 free, 50 fly and 100 fly.  This meet will be a great opportunity to gauge my training progress toward qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials since my last race in Chapel Hill four weeks ago.  In addition to cutting back a bit in the pool this coming week, I have several sessions scheduled with The Sport of Massage to prep my body for racing.   

Below are the current relay world records that Jen Stringer, Kerry Lindauer, Alicia Uhl and I will be chasing this weekend.  I will be sure to post updates and pictures from this fun weekend!

FINA Masters current long course meters world records

Training Hard & A Special Weekend!

What a week!  I started a new training technique to enhance my power and speed. Derek Armah, who works with Wade Harris at Raleigh Personal Training, introduced me to the Vertimax Raptor.  It is a resistance-based machine used by track, basketball and football players to increase quickness, agility and endurance.  

 

Exercises with the Vertimax include vertical jumps, broad jumps, box jumps and lunges.  We also use it to simulate swim strokes and kicks for added resistance. It is an amazing workout over the course of an hour! We decided to add an extra workout and go to 4 per week (2 Vertimax sessions and 2 strength training sessions).  

 

On Thursday, Eric and I headed to The University of Virginia for the weekend to attend my nephew’s graduation.  We were so excited to be part of the celebration and proud of his accomplishment!  We were fortunate to have beautiful weather and enjoyed some amazing meals with family and friends.  Thanks to Coach Silver's connection with UVA Head Coach Augie Bush, I was able to practice at the UVA pool on Friday morning.  Although most of the UVA team was competing in Charlotte last weekend at the Arena Pro Series meet, Assistant Coach Cory Chitwood trained me along with another UVA swimmer.  Coach Chitwood provided a couple of good pointers on my start, so I was glad I made the time to get a swim in during the trip.

 

In addition to the graduation festivities, a few other happenings made the weekend special.  My Mom’s birthday was on Friday and Eric and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday.  We even found time to cheer on American Pharoah to victory in the Preakness.   Can’t wait to see if he will become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown!  

 

 

Brooks's UVA Graduation Weekend - May 2015    Eric Braun, Macy Mears, Brooks Mears, and Erika Braun

Brooks's UVA Graduation Weekend - May 2015    Eric Braun, Macy Mears, Brooks Mears, and Erika Braun

UNC Chapel Hill Koury Natatorium...A Sweet Pool!

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!

 

UNC Chapel Hill - May 3, 2015

UNC Chapel Hill - May 3, 2015

Gearing Up for Chapel Hill!

Following the Mesa meet, I had two weeks in between my next long course meet, so it was back to speed and power work. Travel is not an issue this time this weekend because the NCAC Quad Meet is in Chapel Hill at UNC.  I am excited to race here with my fellow MOR teammates including my friend, Jen Stringer.  Jen is a fellow Masters swimmer and also trains with me at MOR. Because the meet is so close to home, I’ll have some extra support in the audience.  Eric, my parents, Cliff and Jane Bassand my strength trainer, Wade Harris, will be there to cheer me on in the 50 free on Sunday. 

 

This is another great opportunity for long course race experience although we have not yet ratcheted up our long course training.  At this point in the season we only train long course one practice per week at NC State University.  This past week, we focused on fast 50 sprints with 1-2 breaths in preparation for swimming with 0-1 breath in the actual race. My plan for Chapel Hill is to take one breath during the race at the two-thirds mark in order to have a strong finish.

 

During the past week we focused our strength training on gaining power in the legs. Wade has several wooden boxes he uses in the gym that everyone loves to hate. They are great for vertical jumps and lunges. As an added benefit," he places a 45 lb.weight on the box and I push it across the artificial turf floor to really get the heart rate up!  He wants me to finish fast pushing the box to mimic finishing a race with depleted oxygen supply. 

 

With this intense training comes sore muscles.  Sometimes, I stay sore for a couple of days.  So, one other aspect of my training routine is to accelerate my recovery through stretching and massage.  I am grateful to Suzie Bush, the owner of The Sport of Massage located here in Raleigh. I love their slogan, “Train Hard, Recover Smart.”  Although my massages with Rob Hicks are not exactly “relaxing,” they are just what I need to unwind and release the muscle tightness

 

Although we do not officially rest for this weekend’s meet, I will skip my normal 4:45 am practice with MOR and strength training on Friday. Instead, I will sleep in, eat a good breakfast and practice at noon with RAM

 

This meet is only one session per day with the 100 free on Saturday and 50 free on Sunday, with a couple of relays with my MOR teammates 

 

I look forward to updating everyone after this weekend!

 

Working hard with the box!

Working hard with the box!

Off to Mesa and the Arena Pro Series!

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!

Michael Phelps off the blocks!

Michael Phelps off the blocks!