Friday, April 27, 2018

On Swimming as Fast as I Did in College: Recap of 2018 USMS Colonies Zones

2018 USMS Colonies Zone Swimming Championships
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
April 14 -15

The week before Zones—my goal meet of the spring—I started to doubt myself. In my head, I’d hear things like, “You better swim fast or the past eight months of training were a waste of time” and “You should have done more to be better prepared.”

After about two days of this, I’d had enough negative thinking and anxiety, so I consciously changed my thought process. I told myself that I loved training the past eight months. It gave me something to look forward to every day and helped me to plan and structure my free time, nutrition, and sleep habits. Like the John Lennon quote, “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted.”

And, sure, I could have done more to be better prepared. One can always do more to be better prepared. But I knew I was as prepared as I could be at that time. I told myself I’d go give it my all, whatever “all” I had in me on those two days of competition.

DAY 1
On Saturday, Brian came with me. We got to the pool 15 minutes before warm ups which gave me just enough time to squeeze into my new compression suit. It only took me about 8 minutes to put it on this time, and once I had it on, I realized it was too big! Not so big that I couldn’t wear it, but big enough that I could have gone down a size. It was a little roomy in the hips and bust because I had lost body fat between the time I bought it and tried it on and race day. Oh well. It was still plenty tight and felt comfortable during warmups.


1st Event: 100 Freestyle
The 100 free is a sprint, so I went out fast and held it for as long as I could.

I won first place in my age group with a 55.94!

Not to be clichĂ©, but my draw dropped. I had just dropped 1.62 seconds from my adult best time. I hadn’t swum a 55 since college. I looked for Brian in the bleachers, and he had moved to the edge of the pool and had his arms pumped in fists above his head. Before the race, I told him I was hoping for a low 57. Last year, this would have been a top 10 time in the nation for USMS.

2nd Event: 500 Freestyle
The last time I raced the 500, I felt tired and sluggish, so I wasn’t sure what to expect at Zones. But after the 100, I was feeling pretty confident, so I also went out fast—not at a sprint, but fast—and held just about the splits I wanted to hold. Brian counted for me, and I told him to move the counter up and down if my 50 splits went over 35 seconds. He only did it once, so I knew that I was on track to get a personal adult best. I hoped to go under 5:40.

I finished 3rd in my age group with a 5:36.59, shaving another 6.82 seconds off of my previous best time and was 14 seconds faster than previous seasons.

DAY 2
I was pleased enough with my performance on day 1 that it almost didn’t matter what happened on day 2. My mom went with me this day, and on the drive down I could tell I was much more tired than I had been the day before. I hadn’t swum in a multi-day meet for a few years, but I anticipated being a bit more tired, maybe a bit sore.

3rd Event: 200 Freestyle
In March, I had an amazing 200 free race because I was neck-and-neck with another swimmer the whole way until the last few yards when I pulled ahead to out touched him by .16 seconds to finish in an adult best time of 2:04.47. So, I was excited to race the 200 free again, this time against fast women.

I finished 2nd in my age group and 3rd overall with a 2:02.73, knocking another 1.75 seconds off my time.

Again, I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited to have done a 2:02, a time I hadn’t done since college. Mom gave me the thumbs up from the stands. I had put everything, everything I had into that race. I was drained. And I felt amazing.

4th Event: 50 Freestyle
I hadn’t raced the 50 free yet this season and hadn’t raced it in over a year. My previous best time was a 26.86, which I had done four years ago, but I had already beaten that time with my 100 split the day before with a 26.58.

I finished 2nd in my age group with a 26.36 and was pleased to have placed that high. I had kind of hoped to go a 25, but I’m pleased with the low 26.

REFLECTION
I couldn’t be happier with my Zones performance. I surpassed my goals, felt amazing in the water, and enjoyed spending time with Brian and my mom.

What excites me is that I know I can go even faster than that. I know the weaknesses in my training and how to get stronger. I know my strengths and how to continue to use them. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

*I may be as fast as I was in college, but that's also about as fast as I was as a 12 & under!

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