Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Second swim meet kicks my &$$

I joined a Master's Swim Team this year and I participated in my second meet on Sunday. I signed up for three races: (1) 25-yard freestyle, (2) 200-yard freestyle, and (3) 25-yard breaststroke. The first race was great. Wow, do I like the short distances! I can really power through them, skip the breathing, and be done in a matter of seconds. I am not particularly competitive because I'm new to swimming and in such a short distance a race is won or lost based on one's dive. My dives are rudimentary. Anyway, I submitted a seed time of 16.0 seconds and ended up with a race time of 15.87 seconds. Beating the seed time is the ultimate goal of this kind of competition; there are swimmers in other heats that swam faster than me, but much of Master's Swimming is all about beating your own records or expectations. Thus, my 25-yard freestyle was a successful race!

The 200 freestyle is a different story. My dive was bad (apparently my head was up), and this pulled my goggles down from my eyes to my mouth. During the first 25-yards I had these thoughts in succession: "My face feels funny; I wonder what that is about.....Oh, my goggles have slid off my eyes. Damn!.....Well, I'm swimming fine with them where they are, so maybe I can just ignore them.....[flip turn happened here]..... No, they are in my way as I breathe, so they must be moved.....I'll stop at the 50-yard mark and discard them......" And so that's what I did. After 50 yards, I stopped at the wall and attempted to pull them off my head and set them on the side next to the starting block. But they got hung up on the starting block and so I had to untangle them and place them next to the starting block. I then pushed off and swam hard to try to catch up with my competitors who didn't seem that far ahead of me at this point. In fact, I was probably the first to the wall at the 50-yard mark.

Two competitors in the 200-free have finished while I struggle on.
Well, after 100 yards of top-speed swimming, at which point I think I actually had caught up with my competitors, I was spent, and I had half the race to go. I couldn't keep up the pace. I slowed down and concentrated on long strokes and small flutter kicks. I skipped some flip turns as I ran out of energy and the concentration required to execute them. My eyes stung from the chlorine. My breathing was off my stroke rhythm.

I finally finished at a time of 3:12 (my seed time was 2:30), and as stopped at the wall and prepared to get out of the pool I realized people were clapping for me. That was a nice gesture, really. I guess everyone's been in my position before (goggle malfunction), and the folks were trying to keep my spirits up. I would have appreciated that a lot more if I wasn't completely exhausted and feeling extremely ill. I almost didn't have the strength or coordination to get out of the pool. I felt very drunk as I walked back to my friends at the other end of the pool, and then I sat down and concentrated on not vomiting and getting some blood back into my head. My friends were doing all they could to revive me but all I could do was grunt in return.

It took a banana and about 30 minutes for me to recover from my exhausted and confused state. Meanwhile, I missed the 25-yard breaststroke race. No problem there. Missing a race is better than dying in the pool! After I was back to normal and in the car with my girlfriend heading to a restaurant to meet some friends, I said to her: "You know, what happened today was the worst thing that can happen at a swim meet, and guess what? I'm OK. I'm not defeated. I can handle it!" And I was right. The following day (yesterday) I got back to business with my exercise routine. I ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill (some of that was at a 4% incline) and I lifted weights in the evening. And today I had swim practice with my coach for an hour. I swam 1400 yards, the most I've ever swam in one workout. I'm a great athlete and I look forward to my next swim meet.

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