The lack of swimmers in the lap pool was a bit unsettling this afternoon, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain. I like quiet, peaceful environments, and I like having a lane to myself. I was in the middle of a ladder set with the tempo trainer in which one of my major challenges was trying to perfect a consistent turn so that my stroke counts would be consistent on the 2nd and onward lengths of each set.  As a result,  I wasn’t 100% focused on WHERE in my lane I was swimming.  So when the lanes on either side of me began to fill with swimmers, and I spotted a women sitting at the end of my lane, I groaned a little bit on the inside.

Turns out that she got into a lane with 2 of her friends and the 3 of them circle swam…so I had my own lane again.  Normally during the daytime, the pool has a lot of older swimmers, as opposed to people who are obvoiusly there to work on their swimming fitness.  As I watched the swimmers arrive one by one today, I noticed them hunting and picking out treaures from behind the benches at the end of the lane…some fins, a pull bouy, kickboards, etc. It was like an easter egg hunt…a ritual that each of them followed before sitting on the edge of the pool deck.

The threesome next to me were doing a workout set of a descending ladder…nothing inherently bad about that I reasoned.  They were all decent swimmers and I actually enjoyed their company next to me.  Understand that I am not a big fan of crowded, noisy splashing lanes, and as a result, have never pursued masters swimming. I have watched them a handful of times, and the 5 lanes filled with 4-6 swimmers each doing lap after lap was just never appealing. Lately however, I’ve been trying to convince myself to participate, even if it’s just so I can swim in a few different pools around town to suit my schedule better.

I had finished my own pyramid set and was quite pleased with it. I maintained my SPL within 1-2 strokes for the whoel ascending set, and was resting at the end of my lane, and swam a 100IM just for kicks.  I was amazed at how nearly effortless it felt. Kim’s tips with the butterfly helped me conserve so much energy that I actually enjoyed it again. And watching Terry’s “perfect pitch” video on youtube regarding breastroke has signficantly changed how I am swimming that stroke as well.  I finisned the first 100IM and looked at the pace clock…1:45 was my time. What?  I was certain that it must have been 2:45…I mean, not long ago, 1:45 was my 100 freestyle time.  How could I possibly add in a length of butterfly AND breaststroke and do it in less than 2 minutes?  What’s more is that my stroke count of the last lap of freestyle was still “reasonable” at 18.  (my comfortable stroke count is 16 and I’m 5’3″ for reference).

I decided to try a 100 free with about the same intensity and see what my time was. It wasn’t an all out sprint, but I was working hard and trying really hard to maintain consistently good form.  Off I went, held 16/17 SPL and my time was right around 1:30!!  Wow.  2 PRs broken in 5 minutes or less.  I was in shock.  Patient TI practice DOES pay off.  being able to maintain my form over a longer distance is helpign my times drop steadily!

I chatted with the women next to me briefly and she asked if I wanted to do their next set with them…3 100s on 2minutes.  Why not, I figured. I had just swum a 1:45 IM…doing 100s on 2 minutes surely wouldn’t make me look too foolish in front of my new swim pals.

The lane leader in the other lane and I pushed off at the same time and I tried to match her speed.  We were fairly even for the first 50, and then I pulled ahead of her by about 5 seconds by the end.  My stroke count had remained fairly constant…suggesting to me that she had started out fast but faded quickly.  On the next 100, I tried to maintain about that same stroke rate. I thought it would be fun to try to synchronize my strokes with her. But she was breathing away from me on both lenghts so she never got a chance see what I was doing and it just didn’t match up.  I didnt’ want to say anything just yet (about synchronizing) because I was basically an invited guest in their workout.   By the last 100 I had slowed my stroke signficatly because my stroke count was going up too high.  I knew that I was “practicing struggle”, so I simply slowed down…but boy it was hard to let her ‘beat me’ in the next lane.

Silly of me to let ego get in the way, its just a workout afterall.  For the 6 x 50 set, I did only ever other one because I wanted to maintain perfect form and my stroke count was going up to 19…it didn’t feel good. I managed to swim 15/16 SPL on each of them when I took extra rest inbetween.  Interestingly, at the beginning of my workout, my SPL was 16-18, and now here at the end, it was 15-16.

At the end I asked if they swam with the masters group ,and almost immediately she answered, “Yes, and you should too”

I actually enjoyed our little set together…I wasn’t afraid I’d drown, the people were nice, and nobody said a peep to me when I sat out the even 50s.  So wierd how childhood fears and bad memories of swim team persist to this day.

Sunday I work at 1PM, so a 10AM swim should fit in perfectly. I’ll see how I like a regular masters workout, but will be sure ot have a plan to maintain TI focus if things get too out of hand.