Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hi! Can You Still Swim? Part IV

Besides having three different Team MEMO shirts to wear all three days of the recent PacMasters Championships, I knew I'd stepped into the legit world when I paid for my relay entries with a Team
MEMO check.  Okay, it was number 1002, but it was a really l-o-o-ng business check which makes me feel like a Wall Street Banker, though a kindly one wearing flipflops.  Getting the business account was a little more complicated than I expected.  First I had to go to the Alameda County Recorder's Office, near Laney College, and fill out and pay for a Fictitious Business License, which just seems wrong.  Next, over to the legal newspaper to pay to have the notice published in what I believe borders on a fictitious newspaper.  Then back to the bank with proof of DBA registration, and on to signing up for my Business Savings account, with a $500 minimum deposit.  Since Business Savings comes with one book of free checks, that was good enough for me.  I'm mainstream!

We had 30 relays in this past meet, which was a lot of scrambling to do each day as people often inexplicably left and new ones came late.  And I had a surprising number of relays in the older age groups, 45+ and 55+.  Each club was only allowed two relay teams in each event, so having a third wouldn't help any.  I often had to move people around to other, younger, teams to maximize MEMO's point-scoring potential.

The 45s were led by speedy Clare Burger's 20 points, in a tough age group filled with fast women.  Joining her were Kari Boeger, Green Huse, and Anna Musco in their second meet ever; Tracy Ostrom and Jean Tucker in their first meet, and veterans Pia Macchiavello, Kimberly King and Liz Hurt.  Jean and Tracy kind of eased into it, swimming just one event and then leaving.  Tracy stayed awhile to soak up the atmosphere and cheer for her lanemates, while Jean flew off to barely make it to the Giants' home opener on Friday afternoon.  Both are hooked, though.  At least that's what they told me.

Anna, Green, and Kari were splendid teammates.  All three ditched their children, which seemed to
give them an even better experience.  I've got to agree with that, as I find I can't even remember that I have children when I'm at a meet.  It's nice to have the adult companionship and not have to be ever vigilant to prevent death at any moment.  While Kari was worried about . . . many, many things, she performed splendidly in two-thirds of her events.  The last one, she didn't quite make it to.  It was, however, a planned sacrifice.  No more kindly coach from me next year, though.  Tough love, baby!  Anna, 50,  had the weekend's toughest assignment, when she was forced (by me) to join the 25+ mixed medley relay for the meet's next-to-last event because of an unexpected AWOL.  Clearly wondering what the heck she was doing there next to superstars Brian Berry, Yusef, and an exhausted Sarah Stretch, she swam a fantastic breaststroke leg on that relay and gave the two remaining swimmers an opportunity to catch up and still earn fourth-place relay points.  While she was swimming my husband David, who was the Starter of the meet, said that all three of the teammates were cheeering Anna on, down at the edge of the pool.  It was like some sort of Budweiser commercial, where the big horses are cheering for the little one.  So sweet.

Kimberly and Liz came through like the champions they are in workout -- no complaints, and lots of speed!  Dear sweet wonderful Liz has been with me forever, and no one could ask for a better lanemate or teammate.  Kimberly is a recent returnee, and has very specific goals and knowledge of her body's limitations -- such a dream to coach.  And though she's not 45+ I've got to give some props to Renske Lynde, who also swam the mile on Friday, because I forgot to mention her yesterday.  After the mile Renske scurried off to pick up her inlaws at SFO.  Unfortunately I missed every miler except Dan swim while I took a mid-day leave of absence to drive back to Laney to teach my once-a-week Beginning swim class.  I hate missing anyone's event, but especially the milers because it's so fun to yell at them over and over.

Pia used to swim with me and my husband at our local pool in San Leandro, which is where I hide so that no one I know sees me and asks me for coaching "tips."  I feel like the realtor who everyone is
always asking whether it's a "good time to sell," or the dermatologist who is asked to "just take a look at this mole."  I need some quiet time to just do my own thing, though it's an odd little place and one I've written about several times before.  Pia is an awesome swimming machine.  A Peruvian Olympian (1980, and I'm still mad at Jimmy Carter for that one), she has fantastic skills, amazing endurance, perfect temperament, and a great accent -- especially when she pronounces her daughter's name, Laura, with like six syllables.  I've only got to change 30 years of bad habits, and she'll be the rock star of the MEMOs.  Bring it on, Pia!

For the 45+ guys I had Craig Coombs, David Lopez, Robert Inchausti, Danny Wan, and (for a wonderful one minute eleven seconds) brand new MEMO Jeff Everett.  Robert had the most adventures [see blog, Part I], but all had great swims.  David Lopez, the chatterbox of Lane 4 at noon, swam six events and placed in just one, the 50 breast.  He demonstrated the virtues of the coach selecting the events for the swimmer.  Danny swam extremely well in his first meet, considering he dives like one of the train-robbing victims described in the last post, and was undoubtedly motivated
Good vs Evil
after watching hunky Jason swim breaststroke.  Seeing it done like I describe must be such an epiphany, especially when most folks do it more Gangnam style than Olympic style.  And Craig, who is a Bay swimmer and has crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, and done two huge inter-island swims in Hawaii, had a great meet.  Taking Saturday off to please the missus (smart man!), he had fine swims in the mile, 1000, 200 IM, and three other events (that I suggested, DAVID LOPEZ).  Craig last swam 30 years ago in high school, and even though he went to Stanford, has proved fantastically coachable and brings it every day.

My fellow AARP-eligibles, Peter Tsugawa, Suzie Haufler [see blog, part I], Julie Johnson, Tom Chew, and Danielle Ruymaker had one awesome 55+ mixed relay team.  I can't really label them "old" because I'm older than all of them except Danielle, and I am not old whatsoever.  And in the Masters swimming community being over 55 practically makes you a teenager.  An awesome 85-year-old, Dixie Germolis, competed in seven events at the meet including the 200 breaststroke.  Swimming at meets actually makes you enjoy the inevitable age-up.  When you're an age group swimmer, moving into the next age group makes you the young, small, slow kid.  But as a Masters swimmer, moving up makes you even less decrepit than the others.  Your first year is a very good year, except for the inevitable fast people that follow you around for your entire swimming career.

Peter, who breathes so hard at workout he sounds like the Big Bad Wolf engaged in blowing down the brick house, had a terrific meet.  Though he succumbed to the David Lopez School of Event Selection,
Peter had a fine 50 freestyle, swimming the sprint of all sprints in 31.83.  The idea of pacing has eluded Peter, though he is nothing if not dependable when it comes to swimming the very first repeat in a set at warp speed.  Day after day.

Danielle swam Gibraltar with Craig, and would prefer swimming in SF Bay any day to swimming with me.  But somehow she still keeps coming, forcing herself to do all the things she hates  -- which include kicking, sculling, using fins, swimming breaststroke, swimming butterfly, sprinting, diving, and going first in her lane. I need to back off the hypnosis on her, I think.

Conversely, I need to get much better at the Vulcan Mind Meld on Julie.  She is the poster girl for Not A Morning Person.  Going to workouts at 6 a.m. is just torture for her, though I tell her over and over that once she forces herself to go at least twice a week she'll get used to it.  She theoretically believes me, but it just hasn't clicked into reality.  When Julie worked a few blocks away she could swim with my Nooners and she really thrived, but once the office moved it just got so hard.  She was a trooper to swim in the meet, with minimal preparation, but being 55 and having a pulse helps a lot in the points department.

Tom Chew, chiropractor to the stars, or at least the athletic masses, goes w-a-y back with me.  When I took a diversion from Cal and swam at Laney College in the 80s, Tom was my trainer.  When I coached swimming at Laney, Tom coached Water Polo and was my swim assistant.  Our kids were pals when they were little, before mine grew up and embraced irony, Communism, and British musical theatre.  Getting Tom to swim in a meet isn't tough; getting Tom to swim in workout is much harder.  But like many of these swimmers, a day or two a week is good enough.  Or for Tom, once or twice a month.

So now I've shared a little something about all my swimmers at the meet.  There are more too, but you've got to pay the price of the meet entry to get written about!  I've already started recruiting fast friends for next year, and have ensured a promise by my husband that he will at least slog across the pool 66 times to score two points in the mile, whether or not he wants to.  If everyone enters a distance event (where it's easier to score points) and we get at least two points/person more, and have a few more relays, everyone is healthy, and we have no missed events or disqualifications, we should be #2 next year.  Five points/person plus all of the above and we're #1.  I'd better buy another turquoise shirt.  I just can't wait to use check #1003.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hi! Can You Still Swim? Part III

Our team colors, turquoise and chocolate brown, were not picked to go well together, or even with much thought at all.  Our first team t-shirt was turquoise in color because I'd read somewhere that turquoise is the unique hue that looks good on all skin tones and hair colors.  Our second shirt was chocolate brown because I wanted to make a joke about Hershey bars.  Team MEMO's official colors were picked because those were the colors of our first two shirts.  Kind of after-the-act decision making, the kind I'm strong at.

And Team MEMO was wearing the colors in force at our big meet last weekend.  One of the biggest age groups was the 35-44 gang.  Led by high-point MEMO Tanya Mahn and Megumi Ozawa [see blog, part I], the team proudly arrived rocking the turquoise and brown.  With the arrival of this year's matching caps we finally looked totally legit.  Next year:  team suits and a banner.  Dream purchase:  EZ-up custom tent.  The EZ-up I have now is their discount version, the NotEZ-up.  It doesn't help that it was dropped repeatedly some years ago and never recovered from the bent leg.  But the effort required to get the top into the four supporting pegs just about wipes out any energy the four swimmers conscripted to assemble it will have for the meet's first hour.  My NotEZ-up has been around for at least ten years, when I got it for my husband as a Father's Day present.  We've hung out in it at meets on rainy days, put the birthday cake underneath at backyard parties, and even camped in the backyard.  It's next duty will be housing us as the downstairs hardwood floors get redone.  Why stay at a hotel when we can drag a week's worth of possessions into the charming ambiance of the 10x10 NotEZ-up?

So that turned out to be the headquarters of Team MEMO, along with the two other (truly) EZ-ups brought by Dan Jegers, which I dubbed our Annex.  Having 48 people, though not all at the same time, crowded the NotEZ-up and the Annex.  The few ringers I had, Jason Corbett [see blog, part II], Andrew Naber, and Brian Patterson, who didn't actually know any of the MEMOs, hung out elsewhere with their friends.  But the rest were enjoying the close quarters.  

Dan, who is the Hardest Working Man in the wedding business, sets up our team area with more thought than I gave to my entire lifetime of camping, getting there every day way before I did to organize and unpack.  He also knows which way the wind will blow before it does (like some sort of swimming shaman), and ties all things down appropriately, with actual knots.  My only set-up idea is “pop the corner of the tent” to let the wind pass through, which is about as knowledgeable as putting around Lake Merritt and then taking the helm of one of the America's Cup boats.  Dan was a member of the second swim team I ever coached in my life.  Despite knowing just about nothing for my first year, I pretty much lived and breathed swimming when I came to Walnut Creek in year two and had a good bit of success with his Las Lomas Knights.  Dan swam butterfly for me then and now, and turned out to be a terrific husband, dad, and person.  I don't know how many coaches get to coach the same person again 25 years later, but I'll heartily recommend anyone trying to, especially if it's Dan.

Two of my ringers were also from the same era.  Dave Barber, who anchored the awesome 400 free relay on Saturday [see blog, part II], was on my first and second Las Lomas team.  Somehow on Facebook a few months ago Dave and I got to talking about swimming.  (This is not unusual for just about anyone who talks to me, unless they have a teenager or a cat.)  Living in LA, and the winner of some sort of Sound Award in showbiz, where you wear a tuxedo and hold it aloft while people clap, Dave and I have corresponded since then.  I send him workouts, which he does in the 30 minutes he has free a couple days a week.  He sends me reports on how he did, and then I critique them and send more workouts.  He sends videos, and I laugh and laugh and then critique those too.  Somehow, in 30 minutes a day a few days a week, with weeks off to do this and that, he lost 25 pounds and swam less than three seconds slower than he swam as a senior in high school, 25 years ago.  Now for girls, getting in shape like that would take like five years and we'd have to stop eating solid food.  But guys like Dave, no prob.  Amazing discipline.  Why can't my family listen to me like Dave does?  Really, just give me 30 minutes a day and I'll be happy.

Brian Patterson also joined the relay on Sunday, after I saw his green Facebook light on late
Saturday night.  Just like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby thought that the green light must have represented how the first vision of America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers, Brian's green light represented the future of my Sunday 400 Mixed Medley Relay.  What an inspiring American Dream it was.  Sometimes I scare myself.  

Brian is also the same vintage as Dan and Dave, and has kept in amazing shape by doing every sport known to man, with some gnarly road rash along the way.  A few years after I coached Dave and Dan I started training again seriously.  The age group team I swam with when I was 30 years old (what is now the Terrapins) had high school-aged Brian as my teammate.  We've had a couple of reunions since then and stayed in touch.  On Sunday morning at the meet Brian changed teams, signed the waiver, and voila -- instant MEMO.  How lucky am I?  Trolling the Internet pays off, kids.  So long as it’s for relay swimmers.

Now for my regular, garden-variety 35+ folks who swim with me every day (or their best approximation of every day), I didn't have quite that depth of swimming experience.  Andrew Slakey, the first mortician I've ever met, was at his first meet ever.  Blindingly pale, as befits a man of his profession and a swimmer at 6 a.m., Andrew was at his first swim meet ever.  He charged to a 1:05 100 freestyle in the relay, which was at least 15 seconds faster than I had ever seen him move before, and undoubtedly faster than his pace with his paying customers.  Though he only entered one individual event, he like almost every other person was conscripted to swim on as many relays as there were in a day.  

Conan Chin from my Nooners, and Michael Kellenback, who swims with one of my colleagues at Laney, also scored points in both breaststroke races they swam. How lucky I am to have two guys who can do this well!  Breaststroke is a specialty like no other.  I have a really challenging time teaching adults in my Beginning swim classes, as well as MEMOs, how to do it properly.  It seems you either do it well and like it, or have one uncontrollable foot that doesn't respond to human thought.  It's amazing that those non-breaststroke people can even put on their socks and shoes and walk down the street, but they all seem to get along in the world just fine.  Sarah Lindahl and Becky Espinosa are two such members of society.  Sarah, inexplicably, enjoys doing it and enters it (at least within the 100 IM) every chance she gets.  My strategy so far has been to try to distract the officials.  Stroke and Turn officials, or S&Ts, are the lowest peg on the food chain of officiating.  When there aren't enough officials volunteering at a meet, they skimp on the coverage of S&Ts.  This, fortunately, was one of those meets.

Elementary PE teacher Orin Bentley is another non-breaststroker, but one who avoids it at every opportunity.  Orin is a great butterflyer, and was on the awesome 400 free relay with Yusef, Dave, and Jason.  Another guy who dropped at least 25 pounds since he started swimming, Orin loves going to meets and it takes no cajoling at all to get him to register.  Orin is just about the mildest guy out of the pool you could meet, with a gentle voice and an open, friendly face.  But put him in the pool and his inner beast busts out.  My daughter, who swims in his lane occasionally, and is used to leading the lane, described him as "aggressive," which is no small thing coming from someone who can devour her dinner in less time than it takes her to swim a 50 freestyle.

The final swimmer in the 35-44s was Deborah Bevilacqua.  Man I just love saying that last name!  It just rolls off the tongue!  Deborah lost a leg in a motorcycle accident some years ago and is an amazing athlete.  She has a Cheetah leg for running races, like Oscar Pistorius, and goes with her natural 1.5 self for swimming.  Everywhere I go, and everywhere she goes when doing athletic stuff, she gets stopped

by strangers telling her how inspirational she is.  Well, that's nice.  But what's inspirational to me is how awesome she is at "take your mark."  I completely overlook the rest at workout.  But "take your mark," balanced on one leg, with two hands holding the front of the starting block and head down -- followed by the starting "beep" is what's the truly athletic thing. Deborah dives off more cleanly and straight than just about any of my other swimmers.  No torque, just pure straight-ahead power.  Most of my MEMOs look like they have been thrown out a moving locomotive by a trainrobber in a 1940s Western.

All in all, a fun group.  Some old, some new.  The elderly, in Part IV.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hi! Can You Still Swim? Part II

90.6 percent.

That's the percentage of registered MEMOs that participated in the recent PacMasters Championships, in Moraga last weekend.  Looking at some of my other competitors in the Medium Team division,  Santa Rosa checked in with 24.2 percent, while the winning Davis Aquatic Masters could only muster up a pitiful 6.5 percent.  If you figure that the more experienced swimmers are the ones that compete (except for yours truly's team), then DAM is sending just its superstars.  No wonder they won the Mediums.  We got our points the old-fashioned way -- we scraped them out in ones and twos, except for the ones I kinda hustled for (more later).

Masters relays, for competitions in 25-yard pools, are composed of age groups determined by the youngest member of the team.  Because I only had a couple of people 18-24, I often had to "borrow" from my 25+ team, and even once from my 45+ team to make a foursome of 18+ folks.  You'd think lots of 18-24s would still be swimming, as they're still relatively uninjured and often without kids.  But it takes awhile for most good age-group swimmers to miss swimming.  And it takes awhile for those who never swam to get injured running or biking, and thus turn to swimming.  Those are the two main categories of Masters swimmers -- ex-good kid swimmers, and beat-up runners/bikers.  There is a small window in their lives for healthy, wealthy triathletes to participate -- and I have a couple of those -- but it's like pulling teeth with tweezers to get those guys to do much besides their beloved mile.

I'd like to showcase the 18+  and the 25+ folks who participated in the meet.  My youngest kids!  Leading the way was Jason Corbett, 21, who was a friend of a MEMO, but of course is now in the fold.  Jason would've been in his senior year at Cal State Bakersfield, except for the fact that he's not.  With swimming injuries and a very reasonable desire to leave Bakersfield, he's back in the Bay Area.  You used to swim?  You're just what I'm looking for!  Jason split 1:00 in his 100 breast on the medley relay, which is not Division I caliber anymore, but definitely the fastest guy in the pool last weekend.  That time was faster than all but five of our 48 swimmers could even do going freestyle.  After his leg in the medley relay, which was the first event he swam as a MEMO, the 16 women who had just finished their medley relay came barging over to my table shouting "WHO WAS THAT BREASTSTROKER?" as though Ryan Lochte had parachuted into our pool and ripped off his tuxedo to reveal a pink Speedo.  Just because they had never seen him in workout before, or even ever in their entire lives, doesn't mean he can't cough up the USMS fee the night before.

I also had Francesca Ginocchio, who has three part-time jobs and must make several hundred a night in tips in her gig as the most beautiful bartender in the Bay Area.  Francesca has a flair for butterfly (which is a blessing and a curse, as you then have to train for it), and had a fantastic swim in the women's relay and her individual events.  Newest California driver's license holder Yuri Nishizawa came on Sunday, after many weeks of non-training (that will prove to be a unifying theme with many of my MEMOs), and still managed a respectable few events and even-better relay legs.  She ended with the 1000, and then undoubtedly practiced DWE (Driving While Exhausted).  Brian Poggetti also staffed the young 'uns group.  Brian swims with the Nooners, and decided that the thousands of yards he has swum since joining would be just the thing he needed to sign up for . . . only the 50 free.  Sigh.  Next year, Brian!  And your wife too!  She's good, I can tell that.

Also in the 25+ group were experienced ex-swimmers (Yusef Freeman, Sarah Stretch, Tara Stoop, as well as Brian Berry and Nia Doyle [both of whom I mentioned in my previous post]) and novices John Han and Leilani Castro.  Yusef gave me perhaps my best memory of the entire meet when he gave me a huge shout-out after their awesome 400 free relay team almost defeated the 18+ group from Walnut Creek.  Thank goodness I kept it together because I almost burst into tears.  Having a 16-year-old at home I never get thanked for anything, much less appreciated.  The last time anyone at the pool called my name from 25-yards away it was followed by "don't forget to turn off the pool lights."

Because Jason was on that relay team we had to call ourselves 18+, even with our magnificent 42-year-old anchor, Dave Barber. The closeness of that race defied those ages.  Yusef later said that it was way more fun being on a team at a meet like this, then swimming your events alone.  So true.  Yusef had a great age-group career in swimming that tailed to an end in college, but thank goodness he never really burned out.  It's still something that he and many other MEMOs are good at, so they keep on doing it. It's hard when work takes you all over the country.  You're always just getting into shape when you take off for a week or two.  But we can't be picky after awhile.  Any day of swimming is a good day.

I had the great joy of coaching and teaching Tara in high school, as well as coaching her for a year on the Laney College swim team.  She is someone that returned after having two kids (impossible to tell that from looking at her) and a busy job.  At 34, Tara is the age when many people start looking in the mirror and wanting more.  Sometimes it's because the kids sap so much "me" out of a person, and sometimes you just want to start taking better care of yourself.  Tara scored in both of her events and was on a second-place relay with Jason, Yusef, and Yuri.  Tara was also one of several swimmers who brought their spouse, family, kids, and/or friends to watch.  That is just sooo cute!  It's great that they're proud of their activity, and I love it when people introduce me to their family.  I always get "I've heard so much about you," which I just generally assume to be a compliment.  That's true, right?

Sarah Stretch coaches the Women's Swim Team at Laney College, a job that I had ten years ago.  Besides being eternally grateful to Sarah for joining me, I'm happy that she got a chance to see what it was like being a swimmer again.  It might give her a little more insight into some things that her swimmers may be feeling as they approach their championship meet next week.  We coaches all know that stuff, but we forget.  Sarah swam with a shoulder that needed icing for days afterward, which puts a little crimp in her style when she teaches boot camp and plays in a soccer league besides training for this meet.  Despite the fact that I wouldn't play in a soccer league if someone paid me in trucks of gold bullion, we faced a lot of similar problems with our teams at Laney.  I am happy to see how great the Laney team has turned out since Sarah took over.  Let's hope she stays active forever and doesn't turn out like me, who has now resorted to parking far away from things and hoping that might be considered aerobic exercise.

And finally my novices John and Leilani.  John was easier to convince, especially after he purchased the parka.  When you look the part it's easier to go to a meet.  When you've got a grocery bag and a mismatched set of bath towels, you just know you don't belong.  But John swam a fine 500 free on Saturday, and joined a great men's medley relay.  John swam high school in Oakland (I think), which is a little like saying you're a fine water-skier in Death Valley.  Masters meets are completely different from any other competition.  The officials generally wait while people meander to the blocks, and the rules are different slightly, to adapt to the stroke modifications some folks make as they age.  I think that John enjoyed it.  Most people would say that the meet is welcoming, once they get used to the two-races-happening-at-once thing.  It's kind of like a track meet, when sometimes you don't know who to watch.  I got fooled as a coach several times.  The worst was when Yusef, who is 6-5 and about the only Black guy in the pool, swam directly in front of me in his 100 IM and I never even looked up.

Leilani, at under five feet tall, was easier to miss, but I didn't.  She was at her first meet ever, and I was worried that she wouldn't enjoy herself.  Most of the rest had gone to a practice meet a couple weeks before.  It took plenty of convincing by me and all her 6 a.m. lanemates to get her to enter, but she did.  Still working on her diving technique, she gamely swam two freestyle races and a 50 backstroke, as well as two relays.  That 50 backstroke sprouted at least a dozen more grey hairs in my head, as Leilani routinely turns over (disqualifying herself) just about every single lap of her life.  Thank goodness she crashed into the wall at her finish.  I've never been so happy to see that before.

Sorry for the length.  That's it for the young folk.  35 and over is coming next.

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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

IM Not Very Prepared

Some random thoughts after completing my 400 IM today at the PacMasters Championship:
On its way, after my 400 IM

  • Damn, that's a long way.
  • After completing the 100 butterfly it got much easier, in the same way you feel better when the bull leaves after goring you in Pamplona. 
  • I kept meaning to train for this, but didn't.
  • It's a good thing this keyboard is low and my chair is high, because my arms cannot raise above elbow height for the rest of the evening.
  • When thinking about a seed time, I figured out what was about the most embarrassing and ridiculous four splits a person could do.  And I just about nailed it.
  • After the race I ate a coach's lunch that had been sitting around for at least an hour and was cold and congealed.  It appeared to be pasta in Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, with a can of catfood mixed in.  I scarfed it down like the Grand Champion in a hotdog eating contest on the 4th of July.
  • When you are just resting the entire 100 backstroke leg, you can make out lots of interesting clouds overhead.
  • The suit size I usually buy now leaves marks like I've been tied to a chair and tortured for information.
  • My philosophy in the race was to not get disqualified, and to score points for my team.  Perhaps "race" was too lofty a description of what I did.
  • If the 400 IM is the decathlon of swimming, then I'm someone the next Olympics would pick to do a feature on, since it is evident I come from an underprivileged country with no knowledge of modern training methods, good dietary practices, or competent skin care.
  • I didn't warm up enough, but mainly because the yardage was tiring me out.
  • I didn't warm down enough, mainly because I couldn't swim another stroke.
  • It's amazing how muscle memory just stays with you.  I put on my swim cap exactly the same way I did when I was really fast.
  • I think I made a lot of people feel good about themselves today, especially those people who used to have to step up their game because I was in their heat. 
But mainly I learned that you get what you deserve.  And that even bad swimming is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kick Me When I'm Down

So I'm sitting at the computer, watching from the window my neighbor run a boot camp for the locals, and I'm thinking wow -- he's slow, she really can't do a pushup, they make spandex in that size?  Which is ironic because, you know, I'm just sitting here at the computer. But hey, once a coach always a coach.

Today my task is to imput entries from the national postal event that I created, the 400 Kick For Time.  It's a competition open to all registered United States Masters Swimmers, where they just send in their results and a program sorts the data into age groups and placings.  I mail out the awards, t-shirts for those who want them, cash their checks and receive the glory.

Except that it's kinda labor intensive, on my part.  And I'm not even kicking.

So you can enter online, where with a few clicks of your finger all is done.  Entry accepted, all forms of credit accepted, safe and secure. Or,  you can send in a check (except for the four-and-counting that forgot, sigh), fill out your paper entry form (but don't really try to print legibly because you don't know how to hold a pen anymore), and then be over the age of 18 and still not know how to fold a letter-size piece of paper in freakin THIRDS.

I'm a little tense.  Maybe watching the joggers will help.

Once I correctly imput all the data, then the program will sort out the winners.  And it turns out that over half the people like to mail in their entries.  Who knew?  My deal with the computer brain people is a $100 flat fee plus five percent of the credit card processing.  Maybe a quarter of the folks buy a $20 shirt and the rest cough up only the $10 entry fee.  So I lose between 50 cents and a buck fifty for every online entry.  Which, now in retrospect, is not only fine but would make me really very, very happy.

It's fun to see the entries coming from all over the country, Alaska to Connecticut, and it's fun to see how fast some people really are at this event.  This is a low-key way to compete, that's for sure.  Mail in your time and receive your prize the next month.  No shivering or sweltering at a meet for the better part of a weekend, no scary competition setting, no pressure to make the time standard.  Just kick, at your local pool, with someone timing you.

I've gotten lots of emails too.  Some are asking for clarification on the rules, others suggesting new rules (yeah, thanks buddy!) or asking about the shirt in detail before they decide to squeeze out a twenty. Are t-shirts even being made in polyester anymore?  Do you realize this event originates in the Bay Area?  It's all free-range, non-bullied cotton here, baby.

So back to work.  Paper entries must be received by January 17, so I have a few more days of data imput.  Good luck to all of you who entered.  And if you haven't, please use the online entry form next year.  Or learn to fold in thirds.