Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back in the Pool

I joined US Masters Swimming today for a small fee of $28.  I hadn't realized that it will expire 12/31/13 anyway so... my bad.  But I will have to put some meets on the calendar before then to get at least something out of it.

When I finished HS swimming ages ago in 2000, I was obviously at my fastest ever.  I was also a sprinter but I can tell now, I can hold up longer much better than ever before over longer distances.  I know I won't be around 23 seconds in the 50 Free or 50 in the 100, but it's an interesting idea to me to see what times I can push as I get more fit for swims over 1 mile.

While PA appears to be a barren wasteland for masters swimming, there is a meet in DC on Oct 12 where I may enter to get a few events in, then in NJ in Nov, a short course meter event.  Seriously, with the size of the greater Philly region, it's a shame there isn't more nearby.

My goals have changed since HS.  I'm watching my overall pace over several hundred yard sets and working to make it drop.  I started around 1:33/100 yds (short course) and am creeping down to the mid 1:20s.  I've also dropped about 10 more lbs from when I started swimming in May (although I'm not conditioned like I was back then nor rail thin like I was in HS.  I think I graduated at 150 lb).  I want to hold under 1:15 pace in open water swims > .5 mile.  This is reasonable and totally doable.  According to my race data, I think I'm around a 22:20 mile pace, which is a little slower than 1:20/100yds (and that's my attempt at removing the run portion of this leg).

I couldn't hold faster than 1:00 pace for over 200 yds back in HS but that's going to be my 5K version of swimming.  The 200 is a great distance to get used to understanding your basic ability, similar to a 5K in running; It's a great baseline distance on the threshold of spring and longer distance.  But one thing that really stinks about my HS career ending 13 years ago is I have no records of my best times for each event.  I'm mostly interested in my 200 and 500 yd free times.  I have ideas about where some times were but my race notebook is long lost in some landfill.  I did find some old district championship results that have a few best times: 22.81 in the 50 free and 50.32 in the 100 (and 49.36 relay split in our 4x100 free relay, unofficially broke 50!).

So I kickstarted my swimming in May at a YMCA close to work.  Slowly, my yardage per workout increased, my speed increased and even this morning I surprised myself with a quick 100 IM time, just to see what I could knock out on the fly.  Not a time to brag about but an in-the-water start and just cranking through it and knocking out a fast swim, I knew where I would have been quicker.  Sort of an "ah-ha! I can do this!" moment which is awesome.  I'm certain I'll put down sub-minute 100's again someday but the real challenge is getting to the point where I am consistently leading the pack into the bike stage.  I'll deal with my bike problems this winter...

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