Tag: masters swimming

Destination Swims

SLOW Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1

I am very fortunate to be the editor of the newsletter for our local open water masters swimming group Salt Lake Open Water or SLOW.

Each quarter I get the task of assigning articles and profiles to members and I enjoy making my little contribution to the community that has helped me so much.

This quarter I put myself in charge of writing an article on Destination Swims.  I think it turned out pretty well so I thought I would share it with all of you.  It is a great way to travel, make new friends and see the beautiful lakes and oceans with fellow masters swimmers.

Destination Swims by Rachel Wagner
One of the benefits of being a member of SLOW is not only meeting up with open water swimmers here in Utah but around the globe. With a little research and reaching out to new people we can have fun and rewarding experiences in the water wherever we travel.

There are several types of approaches to destination swims. Josh Green and Kate Pettipiece both met up with masters groups in Colorado (Grand Junction and Montrose respectively) when traveling there for other reasons so they could stay in shape and ‘not miss a swim’.

Other SLOW members have planned their vacations and travels around open water swim races and groups. Erin Jensen has done 4 swims as far distant as Florida and Hawaii:

“For all four, I knew that I wanted to go on vacation, but I didn’t care when. I wanted to make sure that there was a swim happening or else why would I go? The last time I had a destination swim was in Florida.”

Especially oceanic/lakeside vacations will often have established masters groups and open water swims and so it is easy to contact them and plan your trip without too much effort. Of her most recent swim in Florida Erin said:

“Using Google search, I looked up the different Master Teams websites. I found two in Florida, but on opposite sides of the state that worked within my free time. In looking at cost of the trip, I ultimately decided on which one was going to be cheaper for me to get too So, last May I swam the 2.4 mile Hurricane Man swim. It was fabulous and a wonderful experience”

Developing relationships with other open water swimmers can be particularly helpful when it is a location we often visit. I visit my parents in Sacramento area frequently but have never actually lived there. In 2012 I looked up ‘Sacramento open water’ on google and came up with a meet up group called The Sacramento Swimming Enthusiasts who met about 15 minutes away from my parents’ house at Folsom Lake.

destination swim

This proved to be particularly helpful in 2012 because I was getting ready for my first 5k and I did my first test 5k during that trip. They were all much better swimmers than I was and so not only did I have a great time but I learned some new techniques, got some tips, and trained hard while visiting my parents (plus got a break from the fam…).

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to meet up with them again because my visits to home have been brief and crammed with stuff but I hope to and really enjoyed my experience.
This May I am traveling to Tampa to visit a friend so I searched facebook for a masters group there and found Tampa Bay Open Water

Swimming and have already contacted them and plan swimming together. They are a new group so were very receptive to meeting me and learning about SLOW. I’m really looking forward to it.

There are many ways you can come into contact with swimmers when you travel. Social media platforms like facebook, twitter and meet up.com all feature clubs and races with a simple search. Google can take you to websites and blogs for groups and individual swimmers.

Also, the USMS website has a club finder section that can be helpful. In fact, that’s how I first heard about Deer Creek swim in 2011 and met Jim Hubbard.

So on your next vacation see who you can swim with. You will find it enriches your trip, produces meaningful relationships and helps you become a better swimmer.

DNF is Not a 4 Letter Word

For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life.  It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together.  She was new to open water.  New to swimming in fact.  She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults.  She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.

In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August.  The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.  I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun.  I figured why not?  (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).

So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement.  More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.

Tania and me.
Tanya and me.

Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer.  I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that.  I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me.  I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby.  If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.

That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along.  With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago.  These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam.  For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.

This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim.  The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes.  My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.

To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”  What does that even mean?  I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race.  I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental?  I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on.  To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)

They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist.  It honestly makes me sick inside.  Sick for my friend.  Sick for me.  Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating.  A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…

But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race.  My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).

50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish).  Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words.  It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor?  At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?

The funny thing is  the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’.  The only difference is me and my pride.  Kind of silly…

I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”

I don’t want to fail by default.  For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)

swimmingHow do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals?  Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control.  What are your strategies?

I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon.  If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it.  This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved.  Too bad really…

I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums.  Thanks everyone!

QUAC 2013

This won’t be a long post because I can barely keep my eyes open.  This morning I wen to the QUAC meet at Fairmont pool in Salt Lake.  It is a fun, casual swim meet, and it was my first major gathering of the recently formed SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) masters team.  It was fun to see my friends and get a swim in.

It has been a few weeks since I have made it to the pool.  With the move taking up so much of my energy it has been hard to find any time for swimming.  I’ve missed it a lot and couldn’t wait to dive in.  However, I hesitated in going because I’m so out of shape and its been weeks since I was in the water but I decided to go for it and I’m glad I did.

I ended up swimming 2 relays which were fun.  They were my first relays in a competition environment and one of them was all women which is awesome.  I was surprised so many wanted me to be on their team given my lack of training.  Grateful!  I also did my own 50 meter free and amazingly finished in 49.5 seconds.  My best time is 48 seconds!  I couldn’t believe I got that good of a time considering the circumstances.

Now I am just plain exhausted and am going to take a nap.

Before the meet
Before the meet
After the relay
After the relay
After my 50 free!
After my 50 free!
Laurie came and did awesome.  Her first meet!
Laurie came and did awesome. Her first meet!
SLOW swimmers
SLOW swimmers
Our SLOW swimmer teams
Our SLOW swimmer teams
SLOW swimmers
SLOW swimmers

Christmas Swimfest 2012

the whole crew
the whole crew

So we had a our second annual Christmas Swimfest 2012.  Last year I wanted to give back to the swim community so I invented this idea of a Swimfest with relays and games.  The purpose was to have fun, get a good work out and introduce people to our swim family in a non-threatening way.  Since then we have done 2 others, one at Valentines and another in the Summer.  The Christmas Swimfests have been the most popular and the easiest to plan.  This year was no exception.

In truth, I almost didn’t do it because I felt overwhelmed with my move and everything but there was enough interest and I’d done it enough times I decided to go for it and I’m so glad I did.  We met at Gene Fullmer Pool in West Jordan (the pools in Utah are THE BEST! Bar None!).  and ended up with 10 people which was perfect for even teams of 5.

The crew before our elves vs santa race
The gang before our elves vs Santa race

We had igloo caps this year, which I thought were quite cute.  Thank you Swimoutlet for getting them to us just in the nick of time.

My cousins Jaleah and Anne came which was fun and my friend Etsuko
My cousins Jaleah and Anne came which was fun and my friend Etsuko.  All sporting the igloo caps.
The treading water activity was a lot of fun. You had to hold your hands out of the water while jingle belling.  Josh, Sue and Sabrina lasted the longest
The treading water activity was a lot of fun. You had to hold your hands out of the water while jingle belling. Josh, Sue and Sabrina lasted the longest
Sabrina was an amazing treader especially considering she just had a baby! Wow!
Sabrina was an amazing treader especially considering she just had a baby! Wow!
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Everyone getting ready for the t-shirt relay.
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Swimming the candy relay
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Gordon swimming the t-shirt relay

Some of the other events we did are:  (Jim took more photos which I will add when I get them)

t-shirt relay with long sleeve t-shirts that made it a lot harder)

Santa vs Elves

treading water with jingle bells

Doing a lap and then eating a chocolate santa and then next person gets to go.

There is something else I’m forgetting.  The time went by far too fast!

Other one’s I had planned:

Push a plastic toy with your nose.

Plastic candy cane as a baton.

Rudolph antlers breaststroke race

Anyway, I love races and competition  and being with my friends.  When I was a little girl I always wanted to make a game or race out of what we were doing, so I guess this all goes right up my ally.  I had a great time and I’m grateful that Heavenly Father inspired me to go forward with a happy thing on a sad weekend.  He really does know what we need.

I’d love to encourage other masters groups out there to do their own swimfests and come up with their own relay ideas and pass them on.  Swimming (or life in general) doesn’t always need to be so serious.  We can have fun, let lose, and be happy.  It’s Christmas after all!

Merry Christmas!

To read about my other swimfests see:

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/?s=swimfest

Ho Ho Ho! Mrs Claus swimming!
Ho Ho Ho! Mrs Claus swimming!

SDRC 2012 Swim Meet

After a rough week, today was just about the perfect day.  It was the first US Masters Swimming meet of the season at the South Davis Rec Center (SDRC).  First of all this building is amazing.  They have 4 pools, an ice skating rink, basketball, and rock climbing wall.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The Rec Centers, libraries and parks in Utah are without compare to any other region in the country (and all for one of the lowest per capita spending in country…hmmm).  Anyway, they are fabulous and I’m grateful for them.

I’m also grateful for all the people who volunteer their time to make Utah Masters a great organization and who put in so much effort to making the meet a success.  It was a great day of swimming!  It actually started Friday for the 1650 swimmers (Go Etsuko!) but I didn’t participate until today.  I must admit that I felt wholly unprepared for the meet.  While I’ve kept my exercise up I haven’t gotten to the pool as much as I’d like since my surgery in September.  Still, I signed up for 4 races (I was thinking I’d only done 3 but then it turns out there were 4).

I ended up with the 50 free, 50 fly, 500 free and 200 free.  Each one was hard in their own way and I am completely exhausted. I don’t know if I will be able to move tomorrow but it was worth it (things are going to be rough during the primary program tomorrow…).

All in all I had a great meet, much better than I anticipated! I bettered or came close to all of my times last year. My 500 was nearly 6 seconds better than last year!

50 free-  Time 50.05.  Would have been better but my goggles came off and were hanging around my neck.  This meant I was swimming without great visibility and couldn’t flip turn. (I hate flip turns).  They are new goggles and I guess I hadn’t gotten them quite tight enough.   For once Michael Phelps and I have something in common 😉

the goggles that caused me so much grief!

50 fly- Time 1:01.9.  This was a hair under what I’d done at QUAC in February but I have literally swam butterfly about 3 times since so I was thrilled with that time.  All of my races including this one gave me a lot of encouragement to rock it at QUAC this year (that’s the next meet).

500 free- Time 12:54.7.  I think my last time was 12:59.  Especially after just doing a 50 fly I was thrilled with this time.  My cap came off about half way through and I couldn’t see the lap counter until Josh stepped in and saved the day.  My plan was to just swim until someone told me to stop! It was exhausting but I finished and I’m super happy! My head felt like it was going to explode after but considering my lack of distance swimming lately I think it was a great to even make the attempt, let alone finish.  It’s funny- you would think if I can do a 5k, a 500 would be no sweat but I’m telling you the flipturns zap energy.  In some ways a day of swimming at the meet feels harder than the 5k!

200 free- Time 4:33.8.  I don’t remember what my last time for this was.  You have to go way back to JCC meet last September and I don’t have it written down.  Still, it felt fast especially considering how exhausted I was.  Its only my darn stubbornness that made me swim it.  I just can’t sign up for something and back down without some major fighting (all the trauma over Slam the Dam proved that…).

Mostly it was great to just be there swimming with my friends.  Everyone was so encouraging and as I was always the last to finish the entire room was usually cheering me on.  Who cannot be pumped up by that?  I love my swim friends.  Makes me very happy!

Etsuko and I went to Village Inn afterwards and enjoyed some yummy carbs.  It was great to spend time together and reward ourselves for a meet well swam!

After the 500
My friend Goody and me
My friend Josh and me. Josh, Gordon and many others do so much to start SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water Masters Club!)
Self portraits are so much better since I had the surgery
Kate sacrificed 2 days to volunteer as a time keeper for the meet.
Rah! I was pumped after this meet
Won a new safe swimmer. Great for swimming with friends this summer or maybe even in an open water date (that’s the dream!)
Etsuko and I at meet. She did a 1650! That’s like 65 flip turns…
LOVE THIS PHOTO!
Etsuko enjoying peppermint hot chocolate
Cheers for a job well done!

Back in the Pool

Today I am tired and sore but glad to be so.  As I was working on my diagnosis I didn’t want to muddle my chronic pain symptoms with exercise related pain so I held off of any hard training.  This means its been a few weeks since I did a serious swim- really since the QUAC swim.  QUAC was awesome but it was very tough to recover from.   I think because I was going through other stress and the gnawing pain in my ribcage (which in itself is a stressor) it made the recovery more difficult.

Anyway, I wanted to be able to tell my doctor for sure that the pain I was feeling was the chronic pain, not something from exercise.  Also with labs and doctors visits I had to be careful to get my work hours in and that left less time for exercising; however, after a promising week of results with  my thyroid medicine I felt like I was ready to get back to training. As much as I moan and groan about workouts I really do miss them when I can’t do them anymore.  Especially swimming.

Today I met with my swim coach for the first time in over a month (crazy how fast the time goes!).  He gave me a good workout- 1500 meters with intervals (250m fast, 250m slow, 200m fast, 200m slow…all the way down to 50m).  It was intense and my arms felt heavy but it was awesome!

Back in the pool! My face was so red after the workout. Something about these post-workout photos I love

There is something about diving into the water that I find so therapeutic.  There is a peace in the white noise of water that I love.  You can scream under water and nobody knows. I find the minute I dive in my mind becomes clear and the repetition of the strokes allows me to mull over the problems in my life.   Most importantly my body floats away, the pain with it.  I don’t feel like a heavy girl in the water.  I feel like I am flying!

It was great to get back in the water!  Tomorrow I meet with my trainer, thursday swim with my friends and Saturday I am taking boxing lessons!  I’m so excited about that!  Yes, I’ve always wanted to take boxing lessons!  There is a gym in Salt Lake that teaches boxing classes just for women.   http://www.boxingisforgirls.com. I think it will be awesome.  I took self defense at BYU and loved it. So, take notice and don’t tick me off in the future.  I will be trained! 🙂

I got my first bountiful basket this Saturday!  It was delicious! I’ve been enjoying the oranges this week and all the yummy vegetables.  I made corned beef and cabbage on Sunday and that was yummy (my fridge is now stuffed with crockpot meals I’ve made the last few weeks!).   Today I had a steak.  My mother can not make steak.  Cooks it to death.  Once I learned how to make it right I love it! Its expensive and high in calories but for an occasional indulgence Ok. Especially after my intense swim.  Don’t get too worried because with all my delicious veggies I made a massive salad to go with the steak!

There is something better about carefully selected produce.  You don’t really realize it until you try the good stuff and there is such a difference.  Yesterday I had dinner at Anna’s and she made ginger ice cream.  With the fresh grapefruit and orange sections the citrus and ginger combined well, creating a delicious dessert.

My friend Kate and I decided we will do the baskets every other week.  For $20 how can you go wrong?  (We split the box equaling $21.50 per person). This week they had special pineapples to order.  Hope they will have something like that next week.  Yum!

QUAC

Its been a few months since our last Masters meet but finally the QUAC meet arrived today. This is a meet sponsored by the QUAC swim group (Queer Utah Aquatic Club).  And I will just start by saying I have no issues going to a meet sponsored by a gay group. I think it is important to focus on the things we have in common rather than our differences.  How can a dialogue begin if we never converse on an equal playing field?

So, that’s that.  The meet was a lot of fun.  Thanks to everyone who helped prepare for the meet, scheduling the pool, administrators, volunteers and getting great goodie bags!  I appreciate all the effort that went in.

Unfortunately I was on a bad stretch with my fibromyalgia.  Three days of bad pain. (I had another reminder this week that enduring the pain is better for me than going the drug route. Its just too easy to fall prey to addiction and dependence).

I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to swim at all.  However, I am not a quitter so I swam my best and had a great time.  (btw, thank you to Doterra essential oils for getting me through the pain! I’m a preferred member if any of you want any oils.  They are the best for pain.).

The first race was supposed to be the 50 free but I missed the announcement and didn’t get to swim. 😦 .  The whole meet went by very quickly.  They started way late but once it got going it really clipped along.

So then I swam the 500m’s.  This is 20 lengths or 10 laps.   Thanks to Goody for being my lap counter.  Unfortunately I had forgotten my inhaler and I think that slowed my results. It was hard fought and just slightly under my best time coming in at 12 min 25 seconds.   With all the emotional and physical stress I’ve been under lately I was very happy with that score.

I got out of the water and felt like I was going to pass out.  I had a splitting headache and felt spent.  I wondered if I could make it through the 50 fly.  However, after a little rest and some nuts I swam the 50 fly and took 1 second off my last time!  Wahoo!

My friends all did great as well.  It was so fun to cheer them on and hear them cheering me on.  Utah swimmers are the best!

Now I am resting, putting hot and cold on my muscles and hoping I am not too sore for church tomorrow.  I should be fine but we will see. The thing that amazes me is this weekend is like a 3 day event for the QUAC members.  A bunch of them are going skiing tomorrow.  There is no way I could go skiing.  I’ll be lucky if I can walk! 🙂

There is nothing like being in that water racing.  Its like everything zooms up on you and all you can see is water.  It is the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done.  I just love it!  I’m not sure when the next meet is but I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks again to all who worked to make the day happen and for everyone that cheered me on.

Here are some more photos of the day.

Love this photo.
My friends Kate and Tracey. Most weeks we meet and swim. Love them!
Kate and I at the meet.