I knew my body would take a beating at the two-day Georgia Tech Spring Splash meet (written about in my last post), so when I signed up for the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship meet, I didn’t have high expectations. After all, the meet was scheduled for less than three weeks after I would be racing an incredibly grueling event line-up in my first meet back with my newly repaired hip. If it hadn’t been for Nationals taking place just a six-hour drive away in Greensboro, North Carolina, I would have given it a miss. (Please note: The deadline for registration was long BEFORE HB 2 was signed into law!)
Since I didn’t make National Qualifying Times for this meet, I would be limited to racing three individual events, so I decided to race during just two of the four-day meet and enter races I knew my hip could handle after the Spring Splash. That eliminated sprints, and all breaststroke races which were my best events, but stressful on the hips. Since I love racing distance freestyle, I entered the 1650 Yard Freestyle (just short of one mile) on Day 1, and the 500 Yard Freestyle on Day 2. For my third event, I chose 200 Yard Butterfly, one of my favorite events, but also one I “race” slowly. In addition, I was placed in two freestyle relays on Day 2.
Racing the mile was more enjoyable (and faster!) than at the Spring Splash meet, because it was my first race, and I felt strong. It also helped having a cheering squad pulling for me. At the far end of the pool was my buddy Michael who yelled for me while Bruce kept busy displaying my lap count, and next to the starting block was Michelle, a USMS Discussion Forums “Forumite” who I hadn’t yet met in person. I couldn’t figure out who the heck that was bending down to yell at me when I hit the wall for a few of my turns! Although I do open turns due to having Meniere’s, an inner ear disorder that makes doing forward flip turns difficult without getting motion sickness, I try to do them as fast as possible. Still, I caught just a glimpse of Michelle a couple of times and thought to myself, “Cool! Somebody is cheering me on!”
At the finish, I looked up at the electronic board and saw I had beaten my Spring Splash time by 32 seconds! I also beat all of my practice race times since before my surgery. Medals are awarded for 1st – 10th places, so I was tickled to place 10th and bring home a nice souvenir from the meet.
Racing that mile must have worn me down, because I just didn’t have what I needed for a fast 500 Yard Freestyle race the following morning. I enjoyed the race, but my fatigued body was sluggish in the water, and I ended up with a time that was ten seconds slower than my race time at Spring Splash.
Later in the day, I (figuratively) hit a wall. One flight up the stairs to the bleachers where I met up with Bruce, and I knew my strength was zapped for the day. Racing the 200 Yard Butterfly that afternoon? No way, no how, no can do. That race requires all of my strength, and when I feel good, I love to race it, but when I feel bad, it is a living HELL. Instead, I gave it a miss and saved myself for the two relays at the end of the day.
The Good (again!):
Although our team’s relay coach, Donna, was aware I wouldn’t be able to sprint in the relays, there wasn’t another swimmer available to complete the two relay squads I was placed in. It was either take me as a slow fourth swimmer, or the relays would have to scratch. There was no way I would risk my hip by sprinting, and my body was fatigued anyway, so I did what I could do.
Although I was unable to give my swims 100% effort, I had a lot of fun with my teammates, and I left the meet happy.
Here is a link to a video Bruce shot of the 400 Yard Mixed Freestyle Relay. I swam the third leg, so look for me in the blue cap and flag-print suit:
Greensboro won the bid for the USMS Spring National Championship meet long before North Carolina enacted HB 2, the extremely hateful and discriminating bill that was signed recently by their Republican governor, Pat McCrory. How unfortunate, because U.S. Masters Swimming is an inclusive organization with many LGBT swimmers, including an entire team (Atlanta Rainbow Trout) here in Georgia.
Many of us who are against the bill felt conflicted about visiting a state governed by such hateful politicians, and from what I was told, there were about ten swimmers (of nearly 1,800) who canceled out because of it.
For those if you who think the bill is just about who is allowed to use which bathrooms, you might want to read this article:
If nothing else, at least read this:
The legislation doesn’t stop there, however. Tucked inside is language that strips North Carolina workers of the ability to sue under a state anti-discrimination law, a right that has been upheld in court since 1985. “If you were fired because of your race, fired because of your gender, fired because of your religion,” said Allan Freyer, head of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh, “you no longer have a basic remedy.”
Ugly? Definitely. In protest, one of the swim teams at Nationals wore these shirts:
This will be one memorable takeaway from the 2016 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship meet.
I will also remember the fun I had with my teammates: