Friday, February 1, 2008

swimming - masters style

Last weekend, I was a swimmer. Well, my times might not scream “swimmer,” but I did officially race 5 individual events and 4 relays. Myself, 3 other women, and 2 men represented Team Greenville at the Sunbelt Championships in Charlotte, NC…. And we had a blast!
*special thanks to my friend, Amy - host for the weekend. Everything was wonderful, especially the Pizza. Thank you!

Triathletes: listen up… Check out the USMS website, find a meet in your area, sign up, and go for it! Swim meets are so fun, very social, and a good way to test your times… or try racing a different stroke (if you’re brave). And, it’s really fun to dive off the blocks! Btw, they “seed” you… therefore, you’ll swim in heats (starting groups) with people that entered similar estimated times. Do not worry about being creamed by some ex-collegiate all American… they’ll be in a faster heat.

Most triathletes are type A, competitive… making it hard for them to enter (race) in an unknown venue. Well, let’s get this cleared up: do not be scared! Lucky for me, I grew up in a “swimming household.” We had (actually, I think my parents still have) a downstairs bathroom dedicated to swimming & waterpolo. There are 20+ swimsuits, stretch cords, goggles, goggle pieces, ultra swim shampoo samples, towels, towels, towels, polo balls, bags, swim caps, kick boards, zoomers… the bathroom has a permanent chlorine sent.

My Dad has been swimming masters for years – and my sister inherited the swim gene. They are the official swimmers in our family… but Mom and I try to look the part ;) To tell you the truth, I just like triathlons… swimming is part of the game. Wait, I take it back – sorry Jen: I LOVE TO SWIM!

Many of you think of swimming as: being in the water for an hour to 90 minutes. You get the yardage in… you do intervals, and sometimes perform drills with toys. Eh, it can be fun… but, I promise you that it doesn’t compare to a real meet.

All Master’s Meets have the following:
- a man/woman in the 85-89 age group swimming 200 fly… and there will be a huge cheer from the crowd when he/she finishes (survives) the final 25.
- “older” people wearing speedos that are way toooo small.
- An “older” man wearing a speedo that is way toooo big (too loose, you catch my drift).
- A competitor who belly-flops off the starting block, creating a nice slap, followed by a tsunami wave.
- Adults… yelling team cheers and sporting team temporary tattoos.
- A man who shows up for the 50 free… posts a speedy time… and leaves.
- Swimmers strutting around in their $200 skin suits… which really just suck in excess “skin”.
- The ex-olympic/NCAA Champion/college hot shot… who will still be kicking my butt, even when they are in that 85-89 age group.
- People who take the meet very seriously.
- People who are there for fun (me)… just to race their own times.
- Everyone talking about where they’re going to drink beer after the meet.

That all being said, Master’s meets make swimming HARD… exciting! With triathlons or road races, you can socialize before/after the race. During the race, however, it’s a solitary effort. At a swim meet, you’ll find yourself racing for a few minutes… then hanging out, chatting, making new friends… until your next event. Oh right, be sure to keep up with what event/heat they're on… I almost missed the 50 back chatting with the girl who posted a 5:11 in the 500. I was trying to talk her into swimming for me in my next triathlon, ha ha.

For you Illinois people… SUNDAY could be your opportunity! My Dad, Doug, is directing a Master’s Meet at STC East High School. He started this meet up when I was in high school. I was a diver (part of the swim/dive team)… which gave my dad an excuse to come to the meets. He told me that diving was, “a great halftime show for the swimmers.” HA! Thanks.

Anyway, the high school swimmers/divers worked as timers – a fundraiser for our program… he continued this as my sister swam on the team for 4 years… and it’s become an annual Super Bowl Swim Meet. Now that all 4 of us are of “masters” age… we’ve been known to do a Long Family Relay: Doug-back; Sarah-fly; Ashley-breast; Sally-free…. Kind-of a fast to slow approach.

Dad – Congratulations on the 11 years you’ve organized and successfully hosted the Fox Valley Masters – Super Bowl Swim Meet! I’ve personally witnessed the paperwork/entry forms that begin to flood your office… but, instead of feeling overwhelmed, you get more excited w/ each entry that comes to the mailbox.

On Sunday, I’ll be thinking of you – in your element: poolside. Have fun and let me know how it goes! Swim hard, drink some beer, and tell the guys HI for me.
The Fox Valley Masters Team last week: during a very hard-core training trip in Mexico
(Paul; Doug; Tom; Dave)


Anonymous said...

Oh how fun, Ashley! A post about swimming! HA! LOVE IT. You did great at your meet last weekend. YOU KNOW I WOULD NEVER MISS THE "Superbowl" swim meet by THE DOUG LONG. I am there with bells on, of course! All fired up and I have talked alot of suckers errr...triathletes to join me! Karyn and I will be holding down the fort w/ your mom...and little Elizabeth is going to get wet too.
We'll miss you though! :) Jen

Sally said...

I LOVE SWIMMING. I LOVE SWIMMING. I LOVE SWIMMING. By golly, I going to be saying this to myself this weekend during my 500. Can't wait to see everybody there. Ashley - great meet last weekend, great attitude towards swimming and wonderful blog highlighting Dad (don't you just love that picture). It is truly amazing all the years, friendships and funds that have been generate because of Dad's love of swimming. Thank you Doug! xox


Pedergraham said...

I am so glad that you found the swimmeet to be fun. I loved swimmeets when I was a little kid and could swim and play cards and chat. Then as a teenager, they were so hard core and stressful. Now, as an adult, they are so much fun again.
Loved the description of the chlorine-scented bathroom!
Congrats on your meet and your swimming.

BreeWee said...

I read all about your swim meet on Jen and ELF's blog... you guys sure made me wish I was there! I just clicked your masters swim link and sadly, Hawaii's meet was 1/27/08, bummer- I saw no more for the year... BUT you guys have me convinced to do one if we happen to get one!