After I had so much fun swimming the mile in April, I knew that I wanted to sign up for more meets. The schedule is a little sparse this time of year, but some Internet searching turned up the Maryland summer swim series and meet number two fit the basic requirements (nothing else scheduled that day and not too far away). Katie had some time in her packed post-Ironman recovery schedule and was up for the challenge.
The only slight complication was that the meet was being held in a 50m pool and I've only been training in 25 yds. I think I swam long course once last summer, maybe? This made for some completely random guestimated entry times. Fortunately there are time conversion calculators out there, so I made my best rough guess at what I could do in yards and wrote down what the calculator spit out at me.
The meet was held at UMBC, home of the Golden Retrievers!
We found the recreation center just fine, but wandered through the entire thing (and right through the middle of cheerleading camp) looking for the entrance to the indoor pool, which contained the exit that led to the outdoor pool. After a couple of loops around the field house, we found the right door and made it out to the pool in time for a super intense warm up and a few practice dives off the blocks before the meet started.
I was not expecting too much given my relatively lackluster swim training as of late, but was hopeful I could beat my totally made up entry times. Because that would show real improvement on my part. Or at the very least expose my total inability to judge my current fitness level and/or estimate swim times.
We both started off with the 200 freestyle and totally dominated our age group. I really have done very little speed work in the pool so I didn't want to kill myself in the first 100 (or 50) and totally die, so I held back somewhat. Definitely more of a tempo level effort than a sprint, as I wasn't comfortable going all out. I finished in a respectable 2:47 something (official results are yet to be posted), slightly off my predicted 2:45.
Next up was the 100 breaststroke. Back in the day when I was a "real" swimmer, this was one of my best events. I've been trying to get in a little bit of breaststroke in the last few weeks since leading up to the tri relay, I was only doing freestyle. I timed myself a week or two ago towards the end of a workout and used this for my entry time.
My strategy for this race was to be a lot more aggressive since it was only a 100. I felt strong, but my sprinting could use a lot of work. I finished in 1:34, significantly faster than the 1:50 I predicted. Oops. As a result of this poor estimate I finished well in front of the rest of my heat, but I really should have been in the next one. I ended up second in my age group, just two seconds behind the winner. Perhaps if we had been in the same heat, I could have beaten her!
Katie then sprinted her heart out in the 100 free, before we both lined up for the 400. Since this was the longest event of the day I approached it pretty conservatively. I tried to build my effort and get faster each 100. When I finished one of the timers in my lane told me that I had more or less equal splits for each 100. Not quite the negative split I was hoping for, but I'm pretty pleased with that. It's hard to avoid positive splits, especially since the dive typically makes the first 100 several seconds faster. I finished in 6:02, ahead of the 6:20 I estimated. Interestingly, when I convert this time to yards it works out to about the same pace per 100 that I swam for the mile in April. I know it's a significantly shorter distance, so I should be able to hold a faster pace, but I honestly thought my pace might be slower. I think I was in better swimming shape in April and May and have slacked off a bit since then. Results weren't posted by the time we left (it was the last event) and they aren't online yet, so we'll just assume that Katie and I crushed our age group again.
All in all it was a lot of fun. Clearly I will never get back to where I once was, but it's fun to be back in the pool and doing some "racing." The masters meets have such a great atmosphere, low key but supportive. And I am always so impressed by the people in their 60s and 70s doing events like the 200 fly and 400 IM. I know that as marathon training ramps up I will be tempted to let swimming fall off my schedule, but I'm going to make an effort to keep going, even if it ends up being only once a week.