Before I forget, don’t forget to check out our swim camp schedule! Click here for that!
I came into this meet purposely in somewhat of a hole. I wanted to put myself in a position where I was going to meet frustration, where I would not be at my best, where I would need to be open to exposing some of my weaknesses.
Because I wanted to see how I would handle that. I wanted this meet to expose me, to me. I wanted to walk away from this with a list of things I could do to help me become my best. I refuse to sit around and wait to that time when I am in top shape, tapered, rested and 100%. I don’t learn anything from that, and to be brutally honest….. if you wait for that day you do nothing but put it off. You have to embrace the imperfect, you have to let yourself get EXPOSED. And I mean exposed to YOURSELF. You have to be tough enough to take a good long look at yourself and make HONEST assessments.
Goals are easy to set. Big goals are the easiest to set. My goal is to qualify for USMS Nationals. That’s a pretty easy goal to set because it’s a bar that’s high and Nationals are not until April. Big goals that are far away are easy to write on Facebook, they are easy to talk about, they are easy to commit to.
What’s hard, is the day to day. The 1%. The little bricks you have to lay down on the ground, where it’s dark, and muddy and not instagrammable. When the sun hasn’t risen yet and when the floor is cold. When it’s you and the black line, and you two alone at dark o’clock in the morning. When your body doesn’t feel 100% and a slight runny nose makes pulling those covers over your head so tempting. When you are SORE. When you don’t LIKE what’s on tap. It’s not about what you LIKE, it’s about what you NEED. I don’t always LIKE doing pull-ups, but in swimming…. I NEED TO DO THEM. Period.
Nothing has EVER come easy for me. I wasn’t a high school swimming star and I didn’t swim my last 2 years of high school. Just when I began to start to hit my stride in the world of college swimming my career was halted, stopped and I ripped it from myself due to an eating disorder (which is why all this dental surgery now is happening!). In the world of triathlon it took years and years of the 1% to win anything much less qualify for Kona. The amount of work it takes for someone like me to achieve anything is …. a whole hell of a lot.
And right now, it remains true. I am used to that, ready for that, and I embrace that.
I purposely put myself on the starting blocks EXHAUSTED. Dental surgery on Tuesday, a full polyester suit, not having practiced one single start, full training load, and more. Still I felt pretty good as I got up for my events.
I was super happy to see Dana and Bruce, two longtime friends and former teammates of mine. Dana is the queen of swimming and I think she broke 2 MORE records. If she doesn’t own all of these records in the Niagara District, then she soon will. I was hoping she and Bruce would be there, they just make me feel … I don’t know….. comfortable.
One of my Coaches Mike was there as well, which really meant a lot. Coach Mike is coaching two kids who have qualified for Olympic Trials next summer and sure as hell doesn’t need to have an old lady like me as a priority on a Sunday morning. His time and coaching are so appreciated. I can’t say that enough. My husband and son came too and it was fun for Luc to see me swim. He was critical of my stroke, which shows he’s been paying attention to our swim camps!
My events went fine. I am about 10 or so seconds off National qualifying times in the 500 free, 200 free, and a little more in the 1,000. I swam the 400 IM and I swear to GOD that was a one and done deal. That event can go to HELL!!!! I am pretty far off in the 200 IM but something about that event intrigued me. I never felt sharp, I felt happy and I knew I wasn’t 100% (but as I have said, that was the plan).
We walked away with some really good focus points for me. The 1% things that I need to clean up, that afford me easy seconds off my times. Some of those are:
- Breathing every three strokes. Yes for balance in my stroke but also because my left arm slips as I breathe every stroke.
- I will stop breathing INTO my turns. That’s a good chunk of time to waste.
- Continuing to improve my kick.
- Improve the tempo of my stroke
- Improve my turns. They were just plain sloppy.
- My starts. I was on the edge of a solid false start a few times.
- My walls. Walls and turns mean everything.
Swim meets like this can be tricky. There is always a lane open to cool down and warm up. In swimming, as opposed to triathlon or even running…. the events start and stop. There is a trick to keeping moving and fresh the whole time. I need to do a much better job at that. Next time I will have a planned set for cooling down after each event and warming up for my next one. That’s a huge dial I need to turn.
My mental focus was too relaxed as well. I got caught up in chatting with some folks I haven’t seen in a while, meeting some new ones and I need to get more caught up in the focus of what I am there to do. These meets don’t have big crowds and it’s truly just you against the clock, so focus is a big dial to be turned.
More dials to be turned: nutrition (day to day), strength work, and yards. I am swimming about 20K per week right now and that needs to be increased to hit 30K. I build that up slowly, so by the time I need it to be there, it will be.
I went into this meet with a big dose of curiosity. Has this general swim plan I have been moving through yielded me anything? The answer was YES. A LOT. My Victor Masters Coaches Brett and Mike seem to design the right kinds of sets, apply the right kinds of workload to us, and give us the right kind of guidance.
I came out of this meet knowing what it is I need to work on. I have a big list. Prior to this meet it was all a big question for me. So it’s time to begin to turn them.
I came out of this realizing that USMS Nationals is not a pipe dream. It’s reachable. By April? I think so. But if not I am prepared to go a another round. I have actual things to work on rather than wondering where I am missing the mark. That…. is what I love. I want tasks, targets and focus points. Game on. This is far from a done deal, in fact the work that is ahead is tough. And that, excites me more than anything. In fact I am probably back in the pool as you read this!
Goals are easy to set. Big goals, that are far away are truly the easiest to set. It’s the day to day targets that are the hard part. Staying the course. Putting in the small of work on a day to day basis. Adjusting to life without giving up and giving in. Keeping your eye on the prize. Allowing exposure and failure to happen.
It’s not so much that we are afraid to fail in front of others, but to ourselves. It’s not easy to take a good honest look at ourselves.
So while I encourage you to set the big goals….. focus intently on the 1%. Because at the end of the day THAT is what will get you to where you want to go.
BIG thanks to my coaches Brett and Mike of Victor Masters. Thanks to my teammates at Victor Masters also! Thanks to TYR for the great suits I get to swim in every day, thanks to our athletes and friends at Valor Triathlon Project for your incredible support!
Thanks most of all to my husband Curt and son Luc, who live this stuff with me, willingly and excitedly!
And thanks of course…… Dave Alexander. The wind beneath my wings.
Don’t forget to check out our swim camps! Click here!