Saturday, April 22, 2006

Good swimming today

What a great day for a swim! It was pouring rain all day outside, but it was warm and balmy under the big dome at George Mason University.

I had a great day. I made personal best times in three of the four events I swam, and came within one second of getting a best time in the fourth as well. I'm not the fastest swimmer in these meets; I typically come in at the bottom of the age group results, but the competition is fierce. I'm swimming against men who've probably swum since childhood, and train a hell of a lot more than I do. I'm glad to be among them, and enjoy mostly competing against my own past records.

As I've recently passed into a higher age grouping, the competition has gotten even more intense. In the 30-34 age group, there were about half as many competitors as there are in 35-39. The most competitive age groups are 40-44, 45-49, and 50-54. These are the guys who could swim circles around me. I figure they've gotten their kids off to school, and now spend almost all of their leisure time in the pool. (No thanks.)

At these meets, I like to swim a variety of strokes, to get a baseline set of times for each of the major stroke groups: freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke. I will have a really cool video online soon showing the swimming. Just as soon as Google approves it.

Here are my stats from the meet:

EventFinalSplit 1Split 2Comment
100 FR1:04.8630.9933.87
50 FL33.98

100 BR1:21.2037.7243.48BEST
50 BK40.52


There are always some amazing people at these events. One man, Michael Ross, obtained a Master's Swimming World Record with a 50 yard backstroke time of 23.06! This time was nearly half of what I got! And, he was swimming in my age group, thank-you-very-much.

Even more amazing was an eighty-one year old gentleman who swam the 200 butterfly. YES! The 200 Butterfly!! Hell, I can't even swim the 200 butterfly, and this guy did it!

He limps over to the blocks, asks one of the timing girls to hold his cane, and two people help him up onto the blocks. The old man looks so frail that I think he's going to shatter into a thousand pieces when he jumps in the water. But nevertheless, the beep sounds, and he's off. He's really, REALLY slow through the first 150 yards, and everybody else has long finished, but he keeps going. His stroke is stiff and slow, just what you'd expect from an octogenarian.

Upon making the turn for the final 50 yards, the old man comes alive! He starts undulating a nearly perfect dolphin kick and starts throwing his arms out there like he wasn't doing before. And the crowd goes absolutely wild! Everybody starts chanting, and clapping, and cheering this guy onward. I wish I'd videotaped it, because it was magic. The timing girls, who are usually bored to tears, are down on their hands and knees, smiling broadly and cheering this guy on. Everybody is shouting for him. It is really a rare magic moment.

And when he reaches the finish, he pauses with both of his hands up in the air, and makes a very exaggerated thump with his two hands onto the gutter drain. Then, hearing the crowd's accolades, he pumps one fist in the air. Truly inspiring.

I hope I am still swimming when I'm eighty. Maybe by then, I can get a medal for just showing up.

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