(Update 1FEB09: Results for the Las Vegas Masters Free Play meet have now been posted here)

This weekend I trekked out to Las Vegas to swim my first meet of the year and the first SCY meet of the season. I’ve been (still am) really sick for the last week and I didn’t get to train as much as I would have liked to for this meet, but overall my races were decent and I had a good weekend.

I left town on Friday after work to go to LA. My friend Robin was accompanying me out to Vegas so my first stop was her place. I’ve been finding various ways to not have to use my truck to get places (I’m on the verge of going voluntarily carless since I’m almost there already), so I tried out the Central Coast Flyer which is an Airport shuttle that does a loop from San Luis Obispo to LAX. It was a good option for me and I think I’m going to try and use it a lot more. I got into LA around 9 and me and Robin went out and got some Korean food for dinner. After that we just went home and got some sleep because we had a 4 1/2 hour drive to Las Vegas ahead of us.

The pool in Vegas

I got to the pool around 11:30, a few folks were there but it was pretty quiet. Around 12:30 the Grunions showed up en masse via bus and filled the place up. I felt awful between just being sick and then the big changes in elevation was messing with the pressure in my head. The pool area is indoors and was stuffy and heavily chlorinated… not that it shouldn’t be, but I had a hard time with it. After some respiratory excitement on the pool deck I got into the pool and continued coughing my brains out. I have to say I liked the pool though. It had a lot of available lanes, it was a good depth, and it wasn’t too warm.

I was originally signed up for 5 events but I cut it back to 3. I did all of my 50′s, but my lungs weren’t up to racing 100′s and I didn’t want to pass out or throw up in front of a crowd.

My first race was the 50 fly. I was in the far lane of the last heat. This was the one race that I really wanted to do good in. My Q-time for nationals is 27.23 and it’s the one I’m in the most danger of hitting first this season. I felt decent off the blocks and got in some solid kicking underwater. My arms felt pretty strong but not 100%, I missed a lot of workouts in the last week. My turn was good and I worked the underwater dolphin kicks further than anyone else I could see from my lane. Once I came up I jammed through the last little bit as hard as I could. Once I got out of the water I found a nice corner to go cough and hack until I could breath again. I went a 27.7 which is a half second off of where I need to be. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but considering the circumstances it’ll do.

Up next was the 50 breaststroke. I am by no means a breaststroker, I just like to race it every once and a while because I feel no pressure to do a good job :) In my race I focused on staying underwater as much as I could without getting DQ’ed. For whatever reason my breaststroke pull is really inefficient so the less stroking I do the better. I went about 34 seconds on this one. I probably lost a second on my turn because I flubbed the streamline. My hands came apart in a weird way on my streamline and really slowed me down.

My last race of the day was the 50 freestyle, I was in heat 9 of 10. I was feeling pretty relaxed at this point but I was still having problems with my cough. During the race I managed to hold it in and came away with a decent time for me. I finished in about 26.4 (or so I’m told, I couldn’t read the board at all w/o my glasses). I really want to at least get down to a 25 this year. After this last race I made my way to the far end of the pool to warm down. I had a ridiculous coughing fit! It was the kind of thing where it was so hard I was sort of surprised I didn’t black out or something. Eventually I managed to finally swim a few hundred yards after that.

Me and Ahelee Poolside in Vegas

Despite being sick I did have a lot of fun talking with people at the meet. My buddy Bob from out in the central valley was there. I’ve seen him at UCLA and the SLO Gobbler Classic. He’s like me in that he’s training by himself and using swim meets to gauge progress. I talked with some of the guys from the Grunions, I had on my Naples Island swim t-shirt which was a conversation starter with the guys from Long Beach. I also finally met Ahelee who is an assistant coach with NOVA and someone that has commented here on the blog before. She was super nice and a lot of fun to talk to. She got a picture of us together at the pool that I posted above. She was nice enough to offer to videotape my 50 free so I could see myself swim but we both ended up in the same heat. I would have stayed longer to talk swimming but I was feeling too sick to function in public after my race. After the meet Ahelee was jetting off to Tuscon for a meet there on Sunday. Hopefully she did good out in Arizona!

My fantastic view of green flood lights at the MGM Grand

That night I stayed at the MGM Grand. Me and Robin got cleaned up and dressed up and went out in search of dinner. I hadn’t eaten since 10PM the night before so I was starving at this point (I know I’m supposed to eat at meets but I just can’t eat when I’m competing). We ended up having dinner at Tao in the Venetian which is excellent. We got a bunch of little plates of tempura, pot stickers and stuff like that.Robin had their Chiliean Sea Bass which apparently is fantastic, and I had a pepper crusted filet mignon udon noodle dish that was very good. I definitely recommend the restaurant. The only thing that was lame was me getting shot down for a hand stamp for the club there. Since we spent a ton of dough on dinner we could get stamped to skip the lines to get into Tao’s night club. Robin got her stamp without incident but the hostess shot me down over my shoes. Lame. I was wearing some shiny silver Pumas which is a little weird, but they’re still nicer than most crappy dress shoes. Oh well.

After dinner we hung out in a piano bar in the Paris casino that was a lot cooler than it sounds. They had two guys playing and they knew everything. These dudes played Phantom of the Opera and Metallica’s Master of Puppets in the same hour! Too awesome. When they took a break we made our way over to Risque which is a night club inside the same casino. The club wasn’t that cool but the people watching was outstanding.

Our last stop that night was Prive in Planet Hollywood. This was the official Miss America after party and it was packed. Normally I wouldn’t have been interested in something Miss America related but I had read that Cullen Jones was going to be a judge so I was curious to see if he would be floating around. I brushed past a guy that looked like him by the VIP area but I’m only about 37.5% sure it was him. I didn’t see any pageant looking chicks in the club, but Robin said there were some unnaturally hot looking girls in the bathroom crying their eyes out so I’m guessing that’s where the girls that didn’t win posted up for the evening.

Sunday we woke up and had some lunch at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris and watched the fountain show at the Bellagio from our table. After that we drove 5+ hours back into LA and then I took a 4 hour bus ride home from LAX. I finally hit my pillow around 2AM.

Lunch at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Casino overlooking the Bellagio

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