So this wasn’t particularly part of my plan for the summer, but I ended up at a long course meet just up the road in San Luis Obispo today. I knew it was going on but it wasn’t really even on my radar as something I wanted to do until late in the week. The Firecracker meet is a USAS meet that’s dual sanctioned to allow us old folks come out and play too. They used to do these as separate things, kids first then Masters. This made for a VERY fast Masters meet. Swim your event… get out… get back on the blocks for the next heat… you get the idea. Instead they’ve switched to interspersing Masters events between the kids which worked out pretty well. I was a little worried about the awkwardness of being a random large bald and bearded grown up in a sparkly jammer at a USAS meet, but it turned out to not be that big of a deal. There were maybe 10 adults there swimming and we were good for one men’s and one women’s heat of everything except the 50 free which was a 3 heat ordeal.
Warm up opened a little after 8 and I was one of the first people in the pool. I was kind of worried about getting in a decent warm up while being swarmed with small aquatic children, but luckily they designated a Masters only lane! That was the best thing I could have heard at 8am on Saturday morning! Eventually we got a few bonus swimmers in there from Cal Poly that weren’t swimming in the Masters heats but were old enough to mix in without any problems. Unfortunately once the warm up closed and the meet started there was no more Masters’ lane. Lane 0 was complete pandemonium. Swimmers from 5 to 85 duking it out in one long course lane. It was somewhere between an open water start and a water polo match with no ball. Craziness, I think Sinsheimer pool in SLO would be an epically awesome place for LCM meets if they just got a bonus 25 yard pool for warm up/down swimming.
All 4 50′s were offered today so I deck entered all of them to at least get an idea of where I am in LCM without a techsuit. Oh yeah… first pool meet without a techsuit today… I felt naked on the blocks. I swam ok, but it’s odd to not have my torso covered. So now the most technical part of my new race suit is the sparkles built into the sides of my Splish Jammer :)
We did the 50′s in IM order so we started with my favorite first, butterfly. I was on the blocks right next to my buddy James who I swim with sometimes at Kennedy in SLO. He’s in my age group and I know he’s faster than me in most things, but this was my best shot to win at least one event. Off the dive I felt pretty good although my dolphins didn’t seem to get as much traction as they do in a bodysuit. Not sure if that’s a perception or reality thing, but that’s how it felt. As we moved down the pool I got into a really good rhythm and could feel myself build as the race went on. I never saw any splashes in my peripheral vision which was a good sign that I was doing alright, I managed to shake James and win the men’s Masters heat. I swam a 30 point something which is less than a second behind my best LCM time from last year. Not bad for not prepping for sprints!
Next up was the 50m back… not a whole lot to say about this one… I think my tweet after the race sums it up best:
It’s true… my backstroke, not so good. I don’t know what happened to it between my teens and twenties, but I’m in need of some remedial assistance on this stroke. I just barely kept my 50m under 40 seconds, yikes.
About an hour later I was back in for the 50 breaststroke which came out about even with my backstroke! I don’t have the exact times, but I think they were within the same second. I was fairly happy with my breaststroke, I’ve only swam it once before in LCM and I was right around my best time. I had a really good start and a monster pull down. Unfortunately there was no turn for me to get in another one! Oh well. I finished just behind my buddy on this one and I think I was second overall in the men’s heat.
We finished with a 50 free and mine wasn’t so hot. I’ve been doing so much distance freestyle that it’s really hard to flip the switch and break into a full sprint right now. I swam about the same time as my 50m fly which either says something really good about my fly or really bad about my freestyle.
Even with a few hundred kids running around we managed to get out of there in about 4 hours from the first event to the last which was pretty awesome. As much as I thought I might end up one of the only old people there today there was a decent group of us. Amongst the crowd there were some locals like me and James, Peter (who I know through work type stuff), and 80+ year old world record holder Frank who came up from Lompoc. We had a couple ladies from Southern California come up for the weekend to swim, and one guy like me who lives around here but swims for a far away team (my friend Cokie’s team up in Marin). We even had some parents with kids in the meet that wanted to get in on the action and were doing their first ever competitive races which I thought was very cool! I also got to meet the guy who writes the Crazy Swim Dad blog today… he wasn’t swimming but his kid’s team was there competing.
The meet continues on tomorrow, but I’m opting for salt water instead. I’m planning on hitting the beach in Avila and getting in some oceanic excitement. It should be extra exciting now that everyone is all a twitter with a story about a guy getting bit by a shark in Shell Beach! Ahhhh! Once you get past the headlines… a dude got bit on the foot by a four foot (reportedly) brown shark… it kinda sounds like he stepped on it. Not exactly a malicious unprovoked attack by a man eating beast… I’m not too worried about it, but I’ll probably be extra jumpy when attacked by pieces of ninja kelp tomorrow :)