Going into this meet I knew things would not go my way. I’m out of shape, I traveled several times the last three months, but to me Masters is a team effort and a social event. As the coach & friend I felt I had to go, actually I wanted to be there for them. But as a swimmer I really wanted nothing to do with racing this past weekend.
I’ve put on nearly 20lbs since my Ironman in Aug. I’ve gone from four swims a week to two on a good week, but only 11,000m in Nov. And to top that I’m sick. I jinxed myself earlier in the week stating I hadn’t been sick since August 2012…
I wake up Friday morning with no desire to shave. That was the first major indicator on how bad it really was. I’ve shaved for all of my meets since 2007. During the morning we had a film crew at our house making a promo on our Environmental smart plus house, so I was distracted for the time being.
At 11:00 I pack up the van and head off to pick-up my teammates. All four of them… (Sometimes I think the decline in swimmers in my group gets to me more than I’m willing to admit. Last year we were 10-12 at each practice and upwards of 20 on Sundays. Our Nationals troop was 17-20 swimmers from 24yrs up to 57yrs with 6-9 relay teams. This year we had six swimmers at the SCM meet and only five at the LCM. Is it me? Am I not making practice interesting enough, or is it the normal cycle for Masters where life and work sometimes get in the way…)
After a little more than 2 hours of driving we arrive in Falkenberg just after 13:30, check-in to our hotel and then head to the pool.
During warm-ups I feel weak. Almost that feeling that I could pass out at anytime. But after about 1200m of easy swimming I feel like I’m ready to give it my best. First up was the 100 back. The first 35m or so felt great. I start to feel positive, then all of a sudden I start to get the feeling that the wall was never going to come took over. At the turn I’m only .2s from second. But I die with 15m left and fall to third. It’s amazing how many negative thoughts you can get in 15m. My teammate, Christine, won gold in her age group, so that was something to be happy about.
My second race of the evening was the 50 breast. Two heats, I’m in the second heat and I’m praying that I’ll be able to keep my stroke long and able to breathe. I dive too deep but manage to recover. I keep my eyes forward and focus on technique and power. I still manage to see that lane 4 is pulling away. But I maintain my focus. When I hit the wall and look back at the scoreboard I’m surprised to see I took second place.
The next and final event of the evening is the 1500, the only event I really cared about this weekend, the only event I knew before hand that I was doomed before the start. When I registered I had a goal of going under 19:30. Going into the final week I would have been happy with under 20:00. Before the start I was praying to go under 21:00. Nope not today. I had no power or focus. From the first 50 until about 850 I slowed down with each length. Finally around 900m I was able to hold 1:33/100 and the final 100 I somehow managed to push down to 1:20.6. To be honest I seriously thought of stopping already after 400m, but I knew I could get team points, so I swam through it. At the wall all I could do was think about striking myself from the rest of the meet. How could I swim 3 minutes over pers?!? Good thing I had time to reflect over dinner. My teammates also took a second and fourth in their age groups, so again I had reasons to be happy. After all if my swimmers are doing well, that means there isn’t too much wrong with our practices.
Thanks to a good evening with my teammates that had been swimming well I decided to stick it out and swim through my remaining five events. Nothing over 100m so how bad could it get, right?
Saturday morning, my nose is running, I am coughing and there is a daze in my head. after a quick breakfast we check out of the hotel and head to the pool. At this point I decide not to warm up, I need to save all of my energy for the five races.
I start the morning off with the 100 free. Ouch!! Out in 32.21 and back in 38.47… Ok it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a long day, but my teammates take two seconds and a third! Yeah us!
The 50 fly was next event for me. What could go wrong, yeah right. Four seconds over my seeded time! Good thing it was time for lunch… and even better that Gina took Gold and Fredrik snuck in to the top 6 for points.
After a nice three hour break from the pool and conversation on a beach front hotel it was time to jump back into the pool. This time I decided I need to loosen up and swim a few hundred.
First up the 50 back. An ok start, I managed to kick nearly 40m before having to just swim with my arms like I normally do and somehow I manage to take third. And a few minutes later I repeat that feat by taking third in the 100 breast too.
By this time I’m tired, and coughing and just want to go to bed. But with one last race, the 50 free, I collect myself and make my way to the blocks. 31.7…… Only 0.51s faster than my opening 50 of the 100. Thank god this meet was over for me. It’s the worst performance for me since Worlds in 2010 when I swam with a bad shoulder for 15 months because I was stubborn. During the entire meet I was 3-4s per50m slower in every single event. My teammates swam well and we finished 10th out of 45 teams, so that made the trip and my struggles worth it.
Now I have four months to fix what’s wrong before heading to Spring Nationals in Stockholm. I am hoping that I can get some swimmers back in the pool. We have so many in the area…