Tag: US Masters

Christmas Swimfest 2011

So today might just be the perfect day! You know when you occasionally have those days that are pure fun and stress free? Aren’t those the best?

As any blog reader knows I have become an active participant in Open Water Swimming and Utah Masters Swimming.  In a year full of trials this has been the greatest of blessings.  It has given me goals, a sense of accomplishment, made exercising fun and provided me with a whole community of friends and support.

Its really hard to imagine that I swam in open water on August 5th at the Deer Creek Clinic for the first time. After that fateful swim I said:

“I did it! I did it! I did it! I swam in open water for a mile and held my own with people who had all done it before without a wetsuit. This is the best day of my life!”

And what a crazy, wonderful 5 months of swimming it has been since that first swim!  What a crazy year it has been! With so many challenges, which this blog has dutifully chronicled, I am so grateful to have rediscovered swimming, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the encouragement and nudging of good friends (I swear Jim Hubbard got about 30 emails from me before Deer Creek I was so nervous but I made it through and then did Slam the Dam, then Masters Swimming.  What great experiences!).

Swimming has really been an unmitigated good in my life, and how often can you say that?

Every year I do some kind of Christmas party (usually to show off my tree, which I love).  This year I decided to do something different and give back to the swimming community that has so kindly nurtured me.  So I came up with the idea of a Christmas Swimfest. (For me half the fun of a party is in the planning of it and this one was no exception).  I found Christmas swim caps (they have tons to chose from on Swimoutlet.com.  I had enough people, 12, that I was able to get the group rate.) This is the one I chose:

Then to finish the plans I rented 2 lanes at the Gene Fullmer pool in West Jordan (something I’m glad I did because it was super crowded and only $15 a lane, so no biggee). I figured this was a good central location for everyone and it was close to the Golden Corral where we went for a brunch afterwords.  My friend Erin agreed to plan the workout, which was super nice given she had gotten like no sleep this week working on her papers for her PHD.  Thanks Erin!  (I was worried she might start sleep swimming but it was fine 🙂 ).

Aside from a mistake I made with the restaurant directions everything went great.  We had a wonderful time and a good workout too! 10 swimmers came, we swam sets, did relays (my favorite. I love racing and I’m very competitive!) and we even went down the large slide at the center.  It was really a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who came and for all the support this year.  Merry Christmas!

(ps.  There are already talks of more Swimfests.  It should be a great 2012!).


Today was the last swimming event of 2011.  😦  What a great year it has been!  I seriously don’t know how I would have gotten through all of the challenges this year if I hadn’t rediscovered swimming.  It has been the avenue to so many wonderful friends and (forgive me for sounding corny) but the emergence of a swim family in my life.  I am so grateful to everyone that has volunteered, encouraged, befriend and swam with me!

The meet today was in Bountiful at the South Davis Recreation Center.  What an amazing facility.  The pools (yes, pools) are massive and there are racquetball, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as fitness equipment.  Pretty great!  One nice thing about Utah is most towns have these rec centers and for a small fee you can use all of the centers in the county as much as you’d like.  I don’t know where the local municipalities get the money but they are fantastic!  (Talk about a great way to encourage athletic activity in your town!)

So, this meet was the biggest of the season and definitely the most crowded.  I think there were 5 or 6 heats for the 50 free!  It was great seeing a bunch of my swim friends; although, I wish more of the open water community came out for the meets.  We miss you!  I got to carpool up with my friends Kate and Erin.  I should have taken a photo but it was wonderful to visit with them. It was also fun to see Josh (and win a free cap) and meet Matt fro the first time. I even was able to introduce myself to some new friends.

I particularly love when people are swimming in their first race/meet.  I feel almost like I did as a missionary welcoming a new investigator to church.  I just want them to have a great experience and be welcomed by me, like I was welcomed by others.

This meet was special because my sister Anna came up for it from Provo.  She stayed the night in my guest room (which is open for any of you who want to visit!) and then she drove up for the meet.  It was one of the first time’s that any of my family have been to a swim meet/race.  Even in high school with a new baby it was hard to get family members out to my meets.  It really meant a lot to me to have family cheering me on. She said it was one of the first athletic events she has ever been to where she’s been cheering for someone.  I guess that says something on how athletic my family is! I was grateful for her presence.  Thanks!

I swam in 3 events and was nervous about my performance as practice has been quite brutal lately.  Between my business trip and the tonsillitis I had gone 2 weeks without a swim.  I was also taking a strong antibiotic called clindamycin which caused my blood sugars to be high and my whole demeanor to be low energy (not to mention my body was fighting off tonsillitis.

When I went for my first swim last Friday it was brutal.  My arms felt like weights, the water like glue.  It was so hard to even get through a 200 m.  Nevertheless, I pushed forward and swam/worked out every day this week.   I am proud to say I had a 4 swim/5 workout week!  I say this with particular pride because never were the routines more difficult to get through.   At times it was very discouraging but I persisted on.

I was still unsure whether I would have the energy to get through my races today.  I didn’t’ want to re-injure myself as I am just today getting off the antibiotic but I wanted to do my best.  Fortunately the first race was my 50 free.  I was unaware my heat was starting and had to dash to the diving board.  As I was climbing up they blew the whistle making me a few seconds behind on my start.  My ending time was 52 seconds which I am happy with given the circumstances (my best is 49 seconds which I think I would have matched without the slow start).

Next up was the 50 fly.  I really had doubts on my ability to finish a lap of fly but I pushed through and completed my swim 5 seconds faster than my previous time!

My last race was the 500 meters.  It is the longest race of the day and a huge challenge.  It may seem odd that a 500 would be hard when I’ve swam 1.2 miles.  The pace is much faster and the addition of flip turns, which sap energy, makes it actually a little bit more difficult in some ways.  Anna was my counter and I think I felt everyone’s encouragement.  Still, by about lap 13 my legs were burning and my lungs felt heavy.    I said to myself 3 laps left.  You can do this!

I would have been happy just to finish but I improved by about 20 seconds off of my last time!  I’m so thrilled!

this may be my favorite photo ever. I think it is such a genuine smile because I am so genuinely happy!

Originally I had thoughts of doing the 200 meters but after the 500 I felt spent and I didn’t want to push my luck.  Anna and I drove home and went to Cafe Rio where I downed a whole wheat chicken burrito (no rice, double beans!).  It was a lunch well deserved.  What a wonderful day with friends, family, and swimming.  Perfect!

I look forward to the QUAC meet in February.  Wish there was one in January but I’ll have to make do with practice.  Thanks again to everyone who helped with today’s meet and all of the Utah Masters and Utah Open Water  events I’ve participated in.  It is great!

USU Meet

I’ve been a bit delayed in posting about the meet on Saturday because I’ve been super busy and they didn’t release the results until today.  This was my second US Masters Meet and it was a good experience.  I really debated whether to attend or not because it required a lot of driving, but I decided that I need to take advantage of every opportunity I can to improve my swimming and test myself physically.  The meets don’t happen very often so you can’t let one slip away.  (I wish they would advertise the meets more.  It would have been so nice to carpool.)

Compared to all of the open water/masters meets I’ve attended previously the USU meet felt very collegiate, young and competitive.  Indeed, when they released my scores I was the only swimmer in my age group (women 30-34).  This means I technically finished first in all my races!  🙂

It really felt more like Utah State’s swim team and 10 of their friends and while I don’t participate in the meets to win, it is more fun when things are a bit more casual.  My friends Josh and Sabrina came and Josh posted good times, but aside from them there was nobody else to really talk with or get to know.

Anyway, it was still a fun experience.  I swam in 4 races the 200 meter freestyle, 50 meter freestyle, 500 meter freestyle and the 50 butterfly.  The latter two were the most difficult.  The 500 was the longest meet race I’ve done (last time was the 400) and it was tough!  It’s funny you wouldn’t think swimming 500 meters would be hard after swimming 1.2 miles but the pace is faster at a meet and the flipturns drain a lot out of me- especially towards the end when I am gasping for air.

However, I am proud to say I finished all my flipturns and made it under my goal time of 13 minutes with a time of 12 min 22 seconds.  This was particularly satisfying as my swim cap kept riding up my head until I ripped it off and threw it on the pool deck.  Thankfully I had my hair in a pony-tail underneath my cap or the situation would have been bad!   Still, I was proud of myself for maintaining my focus and not letting the cap incident rile me.

It was also funny at the end of the 500 I was at least 2 laps behind anyone else in my heat.  It seemed like the whole pool deck started cheering me on.  I felt like the underdog in a sports movie.  Never mind that they were cheering me because I was last- I’ll take what I can get!

Once I finished the 500 I felt spent and wondered if I could get through the 50 fly.  The meet went along at a fast clip and it seemed I was always rushing to make my heat.  (They didn’t have a loud speaker to announce which heat was going when and that would have been very helpful).  I just wondered if I would have time to regroup and get through it.  It had been since high school that I had competed in a butterfly competition and I knew even a 50 meters was going to be tough.

Never wanting to back away from a challenge or give up, I just had to do it.  Into the water I went and I pushed through the pain to complete my 50 fly.  I know I have tons of work to do but I was proud of my 1 minute 9 second time- only 3 seconds slower than I had done in practice.

My other times are 200 m at 4 min 31 seconds (better than my 4 min 57 sec at the last meet) and my 50 free was a personal best at 49.2o seconds- first time under 50 seconds!

If anyone is reading this and is interested in participating in meets look up the US Masters swim team in your area.  I really wish there was some way I could promote or advertise the masters/open water swim programs in my area.  I know there are people like me who would love to participate but simply don’t know about it.  If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, I will have to promote events from this blog- sending the word out in the best way I can.  My only wish about US Masters is that they had some kind of participation award or medal- like maybe something for a person who participates in all of the seasons meets? I like looking at my medals for the open water swims and wish I had something for the meets.  Plus, it is fun to show them off to friends and family! Oh well!

ah the self portrait.
Finishing a race
Before the 500

Masters Swim Meet

I am a Masters swimmer!

Today was another landmark day in my fitness quest!  It was my first US Masters swim meet.  I have not been in a swim meet since 1998 when I was in high school.  What a great thrill to be back on the starting block again competing!

I feel so blessed to have discovered the US Masters organization which lists as its mission statement “U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) is a national organization that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults aged 18 and over. Programs are open to all adult swimmers (fitness, triathlete, competitive, non-competitive) who are dedicated to improving their fitness through swimming.”

Now the question is why did it take me 12 years to find out about this great organization? I guess you find out about things when you are ready to embrace them in life.

Anyway, back to the meet.  Since I had been sick all week I felt anxious about whether I would be able to participate.  Even this morning I woke up with a sore throat, phlegm and a lot of congestion.

However, anyone who knows me, knows I don’t give up easily!  I decided I felt well enough to at least go to the meet, and at minimum, swim the 50 free (for non-swimmers that’s one lap in a typical pool).

The meet was held at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Salt Lake- actually called the Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center- that’s right Wagner!  I didn’t know Wagner was a Jewish name- pretty cool.

Anyway, there wasn’t a huge attendance but those who gathered were wonderfully encouraging and fun.  I have been so impressed by the swimming community in Utah.  There were even some college-level swimmers there; and they were really nice and welcoming.  In fact, one group invited me to join in their swims (its about 25 minutes away but I may get there!).

Everyone cheered on each other and it inspired me to do my best.  Congestion and all I swam all 3 of my races and did as well I could.  (I probably finished last but I didn’t care.)

The hardest race was the 400 meters (or 8 laps). By about lap 5 my lungs were burning and I wondered if I could get through but I pushed onward.  It was really hard but I made it to the end.  I even got almost all of my flip-turns and starts in (the diving platforms were much higher than I remember them being in high school- I would say around 2 ft up!).  Since I have only done about 5 flip-turns in 13 years I felt proud in pulling off so many.

It was a fun day and I think a day my young self would have loved. Its hard to explain, but I feel like in embracing swimming the way I have in the last few months I am now the best version of myself I’ve ever been.  I look great, feel healthy (I think I actually felt endorphins today!) and am having the time of my life!  It seems especially meaningful on a week where nothing went right and my body was fighting me all the way.  Hurray for completing goals!!!

Thank you to all who volunteered  their time to help put on the event on and all who cheered me on.

My times:

50 m- 51.18 sec

200 m- 4 min 57 sec

400 m- 10 min 24 sec

(One funny thing about my swimming is I’m remarkably consistent.  Despite my best efforts to go faster I seem to have about the same lap time no matter what.  The difference between my laps on the 200m and 400m is only 4 seconds!  Of course, the 200 was my last swim so that may account for some of it, but still consistency is my game!)

Here are some photos of the event:

My friend Erin and I

here I am coming out of a flip turn on the 400
swimming in the 400
some of the girls at the meet