GOIN’ DOWN IN A BLAZE OF GLORY: POST-MORDEM

Although I only needed to complete one race at the St. Nick’s Dixie Zone Short Course Meters Championships this past weekend, I was determined to win the Georgia Championship Series for my (50-54) age group with an exclamation point. That’s just me; do it right or go home.

In my case, the only way I would have gone home early was if my bad hip wouldn’t have allowed me to complete the 10 races I had signed up to race. Fortunately, Dr. Andrachuk wrote me a medical note to give the chief official, so I wouldn’t get a DQ for not being able to kick breaststroke. Instead, I had to use an easy dolphin kick and basically let my legs drag behind me. Of course, eliminating the frog kick slows the stroke down to tadpole speed rather than frog speed, so I had a huge disadvantage in my 400 Meter Individual Medley Relay race. I lost a full minute having to pull my way through the breaststroke during the 100 meter leg of that race. As slow as it was, though, I completed it without getting disqualified, and the Georgia Championship Series was in the bag; signed, sealed, and delivered, it was MINE.

The remainder of the day was a blast! I managed to clock my worst times ever in the 100 Freestyle, 100 Butterfly, 100 Backstroke, and 400 Freestyle, but I sure had fun doing it! It felt so much better being horizontal in the pool rather than vertical on land. What a relief it was to get in and swim each time, even if I had to drag my right leg along for the ride as practically dead weight!

Sunday was a tougher race line-up for me: 1500 Freestyle, 100 Individual Medley back-to-back with the 200 Butterfly, and 50 Butterfly back-to-back with the 200 Freestyle.

Once I completed the 200 Butterfly, I was over the hump with my no-DQ race record intact! Not being able to kick butterfly, I wasn’t sure how long my shoulders would hold up, but I did it! It may have taken five minutes to do it, but I DID IT!!

By no means am I the fastest swimmer in my age group, especially now with my bad hip. There are other swimmers so much faster than me that it would be completely unrealistic to think I could ever by fast enough to beat them, even if I trained much harder than I already do.

That’s why I strive to win the Georgia Championship Series; it gives us slower gals and guys something to shoot for each year. Competing at all four meets doesn’t guarantee a win, but to have a fighting chance, it’s a must. It’s also advantageous to sign up for the maximum amount of races allowed at each meet to get as many points as possible. Two of the gals I beat for the series are not only faster than me; they are Top 10 swimmers IN THE WORLD. They didn’t compete in the open water meet though, so I gained 10 points (of a maximum 40 for the series) on them by competing in the 3K and 1K at the Georgia Games Open Water Meet.

Their goals are loftier than mine; they are racing national and world rankings. I’m not fast enough for that, so I thoroughly enjoy training and competing in the four different strokes and all of the distances. It also kills me to miss a meet, because I miss out on all the fun!

Today was my last swim of the year, and I enjoyed it with gusto (including a hefty dose of butterfly). Tomorrow, I undergo hip arthroscopy. My 2-1/2 weeks out of the pool will be my longest dry streak in more than four years, and I’m hating the idea of that!

My three-year Georgia Championship Series winning streak comes to an end due to being forced out of next year’s early meets, but I’ll be back in 2016!

Meanwhile, congratulations to my buddy Mark Rogers for winning the series in his age group. It’s been a fun year at the meets with you, Mark! Keep your streak going in 2015, buddy!

NO WALLS, NO BLACK LINES, AND NO LANE LINES- WOOHOO!

Ever since tackling my first open water race at the 2012 Georgia Games Open Water Meet, I’ve been hooked on racing in open water. Although it’s not as challenging as swimming in real open water like I used to swim in as a kid back in California, it’s still a greater challenge than racing in a pool. After all, the pool provides the security of lane lines separating each swimmer, and the visibility is perfect. Just follow the black line!

At Lake Allatoona, all I could see was my own arm out in front of me. Beyond my fingertips, I couldn’t see anything, including the bottom. At an estimated 84 degrees, the water was also much warmer than the cool 78 of a competition pool.

Seeing the buoys was also a challenge, because there were some blind curves of the land separating the 1K buoys from the 3K buoys which meant waiting until I swam around the point before sighting the next buoys I needed to turn around before heading back towards the finish line. Besides, it was so humid this morning that my goggles fogged up even after preparing them with anti-fog spray!

Don’t mistake these as complaints, though, because I couldn’t have been happier than when I was racing those 3K and 1K races today. As a matter of fact, as I was running up to the finish line of the 1K race, I said to myself, “Oh, bummer! This is about to end and I don’t want it to be over!”

I was truly in my element today and very happy with the results! Coming in at :49.35, I took about 12 minutes off my 2012 3K time. According to Rob Copeland who set the buoys, he said the two courses were accurate 3K’s. (Last year, everybody came in much slower, and Rob admitted the 3K course was longer than a 3K. At 1:17 for my 2013 3K time, I would have to agree!).

Although I was pleased with my 1K swim as well, I believe I came in slightly slower than 2012, but much faster than 2013. I’m not sure of my time today, because I saw the clock several seconds after I crossed the line. It was at about 20 minutes, but I’ll have to check the official results when they get posted.

Today’s fun was capped off with two silver medals to show for my efforts! The 3K gold medalist beat me by about three minutes, so I know I couldn’t have won. In the 1K, you can see from this photo that I didn’t lose by much. Pam McClure (in front) beat me by a relatively small margin; however, she swam the 1K fresh having passed on the 3K.

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My buddy, Mark Rogers did great today. He beat me in both the 3K and 1K, and he earned a silver and gold!

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One surprise today was running into a member of Sun City Peachtree’s Board of Directors, Ted Turner. As it turns out, he also won a silver medal in the 3K, but I happily beat him by around five minutes. 🙂

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The following photos show the conclusion of the 3K race:

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What a blast! Can I go back and do it again? Oh well, it’s time to turn my focus back to the pool to finish preparing for the 2014 FINA Masters Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada. After I finish on August 8, we’ll head to Quebec City for a few days before flying to Maryland for the 2014 USMS Summer Nationals at the University of Maryland.

In between competing and sight seeing, I plan to write when time permits. Stay tuned for more blog posts to come! (If you don’t see any posts before our return, they will be posted shortly thereafter!)

EDIT: Times are posted, and I came in 33rd overall of the 81 men and women who competed in the 3K race. In my age group, I came in 2nd of 7 women, and my time was 0:49:35.49. I also beat out 20 of the 33 women who were in younger age groups.

In the 1K, I came in 21st out of 69 swimmers, and I beat out 13 of the 22 younger women. My 0:20:13.39 time was four seconds out of first, but 2nd place of six women in my age group.