Mary Eggers


19 Walls

“There are 19 walls in the 500 free.” Coach Mike called to me from the deck (I was in the pool), “there are 19 seconds right there.”

Referring to my long breath coming into my turn, I knew he was right. I smiled. In college Coach Alexander used to call walls “Walls of opportunity.” And that means I have 19 walls of opportunity.

Done right the flip turn is the most crucial part of the race. When racing I can get off the walls quick. I treat them like they are hot. I am off those walls first. I make sure of that.

Details matter.

I love this article by James Clear. In it he talks about the 1%. In it he states:

“It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis. Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.” 

He’s spot on. It’s easy to set the goal. It’s easy to make the commitment. It’s the small things, the 1% as he calls them, that add up to the big gains. It’s getting enough sleep, fueling properly, taking care of the strength, the flexibility…. the starts and turns. The streamline off the wall. The thoughts between your ears.

All of it matters. All of it adds up to big gains. As I am preparing for my push to USMS Nationals I am focusing on those. I am dreaming about swimming again. I am visualizing my flip turns, I am not breathing into the walls. Hell I am BENDING my LEFT ARM! And …. Ken… sit down for this…. doing fly.

We have had a coaching change on our Victor Masters Team. It happens in swimming. Especially Masters swimming. I have been lucky in my Masters career, actually in my whole career. I have never had a bad coach. I have only swam for the best of the best and trust me… Shane is one of the best and I do hope to swim for him again one day.

In the mornings it’s now Mike Murray and Brett Leader. Read about them here. They’ve got some 2016 olympic trials qualifiers under their guidance on their age group team. They have brought an interesting and intriguing dynamic to the team…. and I love it. I loved what we were doing before, and I love what we are doing now.

Monday Coach Mike invited me to partake in the age group team’s dry-land training. I spent an hour with some of the nicest, most gracious, great kids (they are like 16-18…. I call them kids) doing plyometrics. I even got to throw the medicine balls around with the young lady who has qualified for trials…. and I can’t say enough about how happy and healthy these swimmers are. I was so happy to have kept up!

But that’s part of the 1%, the dry-land. As athletes we are only as strong as our weakest link. I can put in as many yards as I want to all day long, but unless I take care of the 1%… the core, the flexibility, the shoulder mobility…. nothing will come out of it.

There are 19 walls in the 500 freestyle. That means there are 19 walls of opportunity. Not breathing into a turn, not swimming within the flags…. those are the 1% focus points, that make the difference between 6 minutes and sub 6. Remember: “Many small decisions over time” .

Brett and Mike don’t think I can break 6 minutes again. They believe I can break 6 minutes again. Which caused me to believe. Which caused me to start focusing on the 1%. Which began me falling into the rabbit hole of that 1%.

I didn’t finish my high school swimming career. I didn’t finish my college swimming career. I got sick. At this present moment I have the team, the coaches and most importantly the desire to take aim. Can I do it? Who the hell knows. Right now I am loving the process of finding out.

“19 walls of opportunity.”as Coach Alexander used to say. Time to grab it.