Sunday, January 30, 2011

My first 1,650 swim

Yesterday my Masters Swim Team conducted the 1,650-yard freestyle mail-in Swim Meet. Usually we compete against other numerous other teams in the area, but we have a large organization and it takes a long time to swim a mile, so the 1,650 race is done at each team's home pool and the results are then sent into the central office for tallying. Teams have until March 7 to send in their results, so I won't find out how well I did in comparison to others in my gender's age group until after that date. No matter, though. I did not swim this event to compete with others. I swam it to see if I could do it. And I did. Until yesterday, I had never swam continuously for more than 800 yards, and I had never swam more than 1,400 yards in a single workout.

As you might have seen in my previous post, my goal was to swim 750 yards all at once, and then swim sets of 100 yards until I was done. This goal was based on the fact that during workouts on my own, I often rest for a minute at one end of the pool between sets of 50 or 100 yards of swimming.

I blew away my goal yesterday. I swam the 1,650 yards continuously and completely. I did this in 29 minutes and 30.04 seconds. This is not a fast time, but like I said before, this is a monumental feat for me anyway.

I can't say that the experience was enjoyable, but it wasn't miserable, either. I swam well and without fatigue for the first 675 yards. Then I started thinking "this swim is taking forever and I haven't even gotten to the halfway mark." After another 200 yards of mentally fortifying myself with phrases like "I know I can do this!", I started getting a cramp in my right foot. Getting a cramp in my foot or leg is fairly typical when I've reached the point of fatigue. It is usually triggered by an overly-enthusiastic flip-turn, and once I get a cramp, the pain and deformity might subside for a time, but the sensation remains and won't go away until after I leave the pool. So here I was, halfway through my mile swim, and I was getting a muscle cramp in my foot. For a few minutes I feared that I would have to cut my swim short. But then I simply concentrated on relaxing my leg muscles and swimming more with my arms and torso. I also stopped doing flip-turns and instead gently pushed off the wall at the end of each lap. In a way, the foot cramp was a helpful distraction, as I soon reached the 1,250 yard mark. My foot cramp had subsided by then, and I knew at that point that I would finish the race without stopping. My teammates on the pool deck cheered me on.

I was the last person in my heat to finish the race, but there were very few spectators, and no one seemed to be watching me as I did a flip turn and began to finish lap 33. To celebrate the end of my race and the success in doing more than I ever thought I could do, I swam the last 25-yards at top speed. As I said, no one noticed this little display of bravado, but it generated a great sense of accomplishment to know that I still had energy to sprint at the end of a endurance swim. Mile be damned! I could have swam farther.

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