Monday, April 8, 2013

Hi! Can You Still Swim? Part I

Time to call in some favors, and it turned out pretty dang well.

Jut finished the PacMasters Championships with my awesome team MEMO.  The three-day meet was held at the awesome Soda Aquatic Center, on the campus of Campolindo High School in Moraga, under drizzly, cold, and only occasionally sunny conditions.  I recruited the heck out of all my 6 a.m. and noon swimmers, getting 41 of them to sign up.  I also got the very fastest of my colleagues at Laney (Sarah Stretch), one of another colleague's swimmers (Michael Kellenback), a guy I've been coaching remotely in LA (Dave Barber) who came up for this meet, Danielle Ruymaker's pal (Jeff Everett), who totally fit the bill for a fast guy over 50, Yusef Freeman's fantastic neighbor (Andrew Naber), Brian Berry's assistant coach at Castro Valley HS (Jason Corbett -- see below), and one of my old teammates from the 80s (Brian Patterson), who I found while trolling the Internet the night before the last day of the meet.

Every day brought new fears that no one would show up, and I rejoiced when every single person strolled in, like a lunatic who was seeing family again after being released from prison.  All but one showed up.  Most came on time.  Most had their suits.  Brought my husband's swim bag in case he had to rip off his official's whites and dive in.  (And thank goodness that didn't happen, because I really had to dangle an extremely big favor.)  We had a couple of DQs, a few NSs, and several near misses.  But much joy.

I have to say that losing the Coach of the Year wasn't particularly traumatizing.  The voting was just held too early.  If it had been held one minute into this meet I would have walked away with it, carried on the shoulders of my team (well, maybe 5-6 really strong guys), while rose petals were strewn about and big long trumpets were blown.

I had so many favorite moments from this meet that it just doesn't seem right to single out any one person to celebrate.  But I'm going to pick out a few first, and then hit everyone in the next post.  This may be long.  Feel free to stop when you need a snack, or just when you get to your own name.

Robert Inchausti
After doing the One Hour Postal in January, Robert was a changed man.  He was faster, more consistent, and seemed to take more interest in swimming in general.  But getting to the starting blocks proved a little challenging.  He completely missed the 50 freestyle, reporting to the wrong side of the pool, and was seconds away from missing one of his best events, the 100 breast.  With Heat 1 finishing up I finally found him right behind me just as the referee was about to blow his whistle signaling the start of the race. "Run!" I said, and away he went.  He tore around the pool, down the length, and across to Lane 8 where I was frantically signaling him to stop, like I was out on a runway at SFO as an out-of-control tanker was maydaying it in seconds before it exploded over a populated area.  The referee whistled the swimmers up.  Robert put on his goggles, kicked off his sandals, and was about to step up on the blocks when he realized he was still wearing a shirt.  He ripped it off like a stripper as the music swelled, stepped up, dove in, and swam one heck of a race.  First 100 breast ever.  Seventh place.  Two points for Team MEMO.  Readily agreed to swim the 100 butterfly in the Medley Relay after that, which considering the circumstances, was like taking candy from a baby.

Tanya Mahn
High Point scorer for Team MEMO.  45 points of awesomeness.  200 butterfly, best time as a Masters swimmer.  Doing it again after an age group career filled with 200 butterflys, doing it after never wanting to do another 200 fly again.  But after coming back to swimming again and getting back in shape, the love for that event and the challenge it represented proved too irresistible.  With the whole team cheering her on at each turn, she broke the 3:00 barrier, got out like a champion (after flipping me off to the delight of the crowd), and completely held it together all the way.  She went on to swim another 100 fly in the relay, not long after, and then won the 1000 freestyle after almost all the team had packed up and gone home.  Big day.  Big meet.  Big comeback.

Brian Berry
Another 200 flyer, but completely different.  Brian had never done a 200 fly before, but had read my memo about the best way to score points (doing the most painful events possible) and signed up.  He was having a pretty good day on Sunday, after a really good day on Saturday.  The 200 fly was coming up and Brian was having second thoughts.  Actually he was only having one thought:  Get me the heck outta here!  I'm not doing this!!  What was I thinking??  With several other MEMOs, we talked him into it, though we weren't completely sure until we saw him standing behind the blocks.  It wouldn't have surprised me at all to see him hiding in a stall in the men's bathroom, and then strolling out pretending  he really wanted to swim but "had to go."  He swam a what might best be described as really conservative 200 fly, and got sixth with three points.  Brian's other major contribution was finding one of my unfreakinbelieveable ringers, Jason Corbett, who completely classed the place up.  If Jason needs a bunch of 40-50 year old girlfriends, he need not worry about where to look.

Susie Haufler
Point person for my unsuccessful campaign for Coach of the Year.  Slacked off at work drafting my nomination packet, coordinated my unbelievably generous team gift, scored 24 points at the meet while scoring in all six events, was on an awesome winning relay team (Women's 400 Free Relay, 45+), came on Friday just to help swim a relay, and was an awesome all-around facilitator and great teammate.  Susie and I swam together 25 years ago, but she has defied aging where I have cartwheeled into the bin of "wow, she's really let herself go" former athletes.  Ran into her in the locker room after my pitiful 400 IM, as she was trying on two-pieces because she's still totally hot.

Megumi Ozawa and Nia Doyle
I've got to stop at five people, but I can't.  Both Megumi and Nia swam with unbelievable injuries and
amazing discomfort.  Megumi got one of the many colds wracking our team last month, and tore the muscle connecting her ribs while coughing.  Every deep breath hurt.  Every stroke.  Pretty much every movement.  She swam the 50 backstroke in 31.95, which is so amazingly fast that only two of our guys beat her -- and barely.  She won the 200 backstroke.  She swam four relays and four events.  No complaints ever.

Nia hurt her shoulder and can't lift her arm above her head except at an angle of around 50 degrees.  She can't throw her arms overhead to dive, nor can she bring them up to leave the wall in a streamline.  She figured out how to do freestyle with one arm normal and the other at 50 degrees, so that she swims resembling a guy with his foot asleep.  She pushes off turns with one arm up and the other down, which is so awesomely clever it will now be called the Nia Turn.  But she swam the 500 (sixth) and the 1000 (third), just because she knew that she could do it and that she could score points for MEMO.  Amazingly enough, she entered the 50 free (which she won last year when healthy), and beat three people to score in eighth place.  She started in the water.  Everyone else dived in.

I'm going to stop for a break myself.  Woohoo -- Income Taxes, what fun!  But I'll be back with Part 2. What a great job I have.

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