Another early start to the day. Since I ended yesterday’s post with some off-subject commentary I figure I’ll start today with some more for editorial balance. When I showed up at the pool yesterday I lined up at what I thought were the registration tables with the others already there but then saw they were merely handing out the preordered official t-shirts and other memorabilia all these events hawk. Having a dozen or so commemorative t-shirts still left over from my running days I turned around and headed into the locker room. No long afterwards I was looking for the place where I could pick up my copy of the meet’s schedule of events and discovered they were with the grab bags being handed out with the shirts, memorabilia, etc when registering. Back I went to pick up my bag and register. It turns out the bag had lots of stuff other than just the schedule of events. Some bottled water, hard candy, an energy bar, a commemorative latex swim cap, and ... a trophy. It was clearly a trophy. I recall it was rather a nice one with a roundel showing this year’s Championship’s logo with a medallion of our provincial association at the bottom of the circle, the combination backed by a coppery stylized maple leaf (we’re Canadians, eh?) all on a short squat stand. The only thing missing was the inscribed plaque on the stand telling what marvelous accomplishment this keepsake was awarded for. But every participant got one. Now I understand in today’s society we feel it’s important to give our children a sense of self-worth and therefore ensure everyone gets a prize, but I figure by the time they reach twelve or thereabouts they should start realizing hard work and talent are going to have an impact on their life and unfortunately God didn’t hand out the latter on anything like an equal basis (hint: work harder!). Are we now doing this for adults? Is anybody deluded by all this? Don’t we have enough junk cluttering up our homes as it is? If anyone reading this enjoys collecting these things please tell me why. I’m not criticising anyone (well, not much), I just don’t understand the attraction.
Anyways back to the swim meet. For Day Three I had three events lined up: the 50 and 100 back and, trying to fit in another event since 100 free wasn’t possible due to scheduling conflicts, I was swimming 100 breast for the second time this season. I led off with 50 back which was nice because even I can swim a fifty without worrying about running out of steam. No pacing decisions and with these Championships being short course meters only one turn to deal with. The race itself went well. After an OK start I quickly settled into the sprint concentrating on my stroke’s turnover rate and underwater technique. A good turn at the midway point left me with just having to bring it home. Other than a horrible finish where I touched with my elbow I was happy with the result as my time came in the lower end of my target range. Coach was pleased with the swim too (aside from my finish) so we were both looking forward to what I could accomplish in the 100 back. In between these two, however, was my 100 breaststroke. Breaststroke is far and away my worst stroke, even beating out butterfly which I’ve only just started to learn how to swim properly. It’s so bad I’m embarrassed about it. I swam this event last December (again due to scheduling problems) and I surprised myself with a time that, while not atrocious was ... well, it wasn’t atrocious. I figured if I could chop a few more seconds off I’d end up with a PB that I could actually verbalize. Course I didn’t want to go all out and possibly jeopardize my back race following only two events later. So my plan was to swim at a strong pace for the first three laps concentrating on technique and only in the last length go all out. The idea was with my now better technique and overall conditioning I’d be able to take off three or four seconds off my December time without exerting myself overmuch. The race itself didn’t quite go as planned though. First thing I almost broke into some dolphins off my dive, only realizing barely in time what I was about to do, and actually ended up coasting to the surface before I started swimming. I’ve been training really hard on my free and back starts/turns to incorporate a couple of dolphin kicks before breaking into my flutter kick and by rote just instinctively went there. I’ll blame this on my failure to ever actually work on my breaststroke start in practice. I’ll have to add that to my “when all those other higher priorities are dealt with and I’m not too concerned about all those other lower priorities either” list I use before deciding to practice breaststroke. A little discombobulated from the narrowness of my escape from disqualification (and starting from almost a full stop in the middle of the pool) I collected myself and by the third length had my technique in hand enough to finish off the last lap as planned. Of course I finished well over my target range, but still saw my time better December’s by a third of a second (which says volumes about the quality of my first swim).
After my narrow escape came the 100 back where I intended to follow Semiahmoo coach Dennis Caldwell’s recommendation of going out a little slower the first fifty to ensure my third turn’s quality and bringing it home as fast as possible in the last fifty. Unfortunately my pacing isn’t yet on the mark and I ended up going out too slowly and consequently negative split the race. No real problem here, difficulties in setting the right pace were and are expected because of my lack of race experience so I’ll simply take note and make changes the next time around. All in all the race went very well. My turns were decent and because of my slower opening I went into the last lap having some reserves in hand which was very nice. Coach noted my technique fell off from the form shown in my 50 back sprint which caused some wandering from side to side in my lane but nothing which can’t be addressed. Even better my time was on target, albeit on the high side. Better still the several seconds I took off indicates I have lot more speed left in me to find. And that’s why I’m in masters swimming after all.