a SwimOutlet delivery of goggles makes you do the happy dance
I just bought 6, count ’em 6! new pairs of goggles!
I was in a rut with my TYR Nest Pros. We’ve been together for years, various colors, clear, tinted. They’re fine and all, a good go-to goggle, but the excitement was gone. I’m ready to move on. I want to experience, I don’t know, something different. I want more. I want polarized goggles for OW swimming, I want lower profile ones for pool racing (not that I’ve raced in a while, but still), I want to try ZOGGS. Life is short, goggle lines get old, and there are so many options!
Breaking up/change is hard, and who knows if I’ll find anything better, but there’s no harm in trying.
Do you have favorite goggles? What works for you?
Reviews of the 5 new-to-me styles to follow in the next month or so.
Landshark ½, 1, & 2-mile swim, Saturday, June 4, 2016, Lake Gardner, Amesbury, MA
I’m a fair-weather racer, so I waited, waited, waited, and checked the weather obsessively through the week. I’d been planning to swim this event for months, and was hoping for optimal conditions. I was willing to pay the extra $5 to sign up on race day rather than take the chance of crappy weather. Unlike triathlons, swim events rarely sell out!
Race day promised to be beautiful, and it was. The early morning clouds cleared off and the sun came out. The water was reported to be 68 degrees – I was perfectly comfortable in my shorty wetsuit. Most participants, but by no means all, opted for wetsuits.
The course was a ½ -mile loop, so the ½-milers did 1 lap, the 1-milers did 2, and the 2-milers did 4 laps.
19 half-mile racers went off at 10am, followed by 71 two-milers at 10:05am, and 49 one-mile swimmers at 10:10am. The participants’ ages ranged from 11-72.
I did the 2-mile swim. The first lap was pretty crowded (in other words, I got kicked, pawed, bumped, and probably did my fair share of kicking, pawing, and bumping – unintentionally, of course!) but we spread out by the second lap, and spread out even more on the third and fourth ones. We were instructed to yell out our numbers as we swam around the last buoy before going off on the next lap. That wasn’t nearly as disruptive or disorienting as in races where you have to run out and back in the water. I have such a hard time recovering from standing up, running and flopping back down.
54:24 and done. Good enough for 1st in my age group – aging up has its benefits!
This is a nice, fairly small, local race through B&S Event Management. I’ve done some of their other races (runs and swims) and they run a good event. Keep ‘em in mind!
My Finis Inc. Neptune (which I was never that crazy about design-wise) was starting to fail and I wanted to replace it. I started noticing which waterproof audio devices people were using in the pool and did some research. I didn’t want another Neptune, and I kept seeing people with little ipod shuffles clipped to their goggle straps. Seemed like a good idea. Until I got one (see review below). Then I looked at the Finis Inc. site and HEY! they developed a new device, more like the low-profile SwiMP3 that I used to have. And since I had an old Neptune, I could send that back and upgrade to the DUO (for a small fee, of course – $75).
Here are my completely unscientific, totally subjective findings, written in a somewhat stream of consciousness fashion.
Finis: I’ve been using their devices for years, from bulky to sleek, back to bulky, and now the sleek DUO (I don’t have a picture of the original unit, but it was cumbersome, even bulkier than the Neptune. I like the blue one below best).
- Pros for the DUO: comfort, nothing in my ears – ear paddles rest on your cheekbones and conduct sound through bone, short cable between ear paddles, good sound quality, I can still hear what’s going on around me, fine customer service. Holds plenty of music.
- Cons: the clip (where it attaches to your goggle strap) on the ear paddles seems like it’s designed for flat goggle straps.
It works on round straps but it’s not as easy to attach or adjust, for in-water use only, notification lights are not quite as advertised – blinking green when charging? No, I only saw solid green when charging – or nothing. Blinking red when low on charge? No, I saw steady red and it was still playing. Whatever. When I asked about charging, I was told to plug it into a wall charger for best results. It doesn’t say anything about a wall charger in the info and doesn’t come with one, so … really? The connection on the charger might be a little iffy. I say that because when I had it plugged in (using the wall charger), the light was green and then blinked a little and went off, indicating a lost connection. It actually seems to work better plugged into my computer. A charge is supposed to last for ~7 hours of playing time. The red light came on after 2 swims (a little over 2 hours), but the device was still playing, so I don’t know how long it will really hold a charge. I’ll be sure to charge often just in case 7 hours is optimistic!
Underwater Audio: I was skeptical because I don’t like things in my ears, but I’ve been seeing so many more of these lately. I thought I’d give it a try (pictured below with upgraded earbuds).
- Pros: IF a good seal is obtained, I imagine the sound would be great. Small waterproofed lightweight genuine ipod shuffle, can be used in or out of the water, short earphone cord doesn’t get in the way, comes with an extension to lengthen the cord, many earbud options, great customer service. Holds plenty of music.
- Cons: I couldn’t get a good seal so water pretty quickly got in my ears and rendered the device useless – I couldn’t hear the music. When I spoke to a customer service rep, I learned that the earbuds that come with the unit apparently AREN’T that great when doing flip turns (although the info says they’re fine), and upgrading the buds supposedly costs another $70 (I fought not to pay – like I said, great customer service). The better earpieces still didn’t work for me. Vaseline is recommended to get a good seal. I feel slimy just thinking about that, but I tried it. Yuck, and it didn’t help. I just ended up with gooey ears. The function buttons are stiff due to the waterproofing process – not a huge deal, but worth being aware of.
The takeaway: I really, really don’t like things in my ears, and I really, really do like hearing what’s going on around me. This type of device is not a good choice for me, but it appears to be good for others. It’s not returnable so now I have a waterproof shuffle that I don’t need. The DUO is a better option for me.
[*update: the charger that came with the DUO is crap. After some back and forth with customer service, I was informed that there is now a charger that attaches more securely, and one is being sent to me. Isn’t this something the company would know without me bugging them?! Like a recall that owners are contacted about? We’ll see how the new one works… an annoyance, but I still like the DUO well enough. 7/12/16]
Do I even want to learn new tricks? I’ve toyed with the idea of swim lessons off and on (mostly off), and although I know they can be helpful, I wonder if it’s worth it. Lessons are an investment – both time and money – and there’s that annoying part where you change something and feel slower and less comfortable for a while… Do I want to go through that? I wouldn’t mind being faster (duh). I wouldn’t mind avoiding shoulder pain (now THERE’S a concept!).
Enter Winning Swimming. I got a coupon for a “swim test” and figured I’d check it out. A couple of women on my tri team have gone to Coach Caron and report that she was helpful. What did I have to lose? I was curious: what would she say? I’ve been swimming since I was 4. That’s not to say that I know everything about swimming, more like my stroke is pretty well ingrained by now and it would be hard to change!
What’s it be like to swim in an endless pool? I’ve never tried one and was intrigued. I’d have to drive about an hour to Merrimack, NH – land of the outlet mall! – so I figured if it was a bust, at least there was an opportunity for post swim-test-trauma retail therapy! (I’m not a big shopper, but we did need to replace a pyrex…). I decided to take the plunge (that was bad. Sorry).
I contacted Coach Caron about how to get started. The first step was to fill out some paperwork and take the “swim test” – what the coupon I got referred to. I made an appointment. Road Trip! My husband and I drove up to look at the facility, talk about my goals, and try out the pool. Coach Caron had me swim so she could see what she was working with and determine how best to align her coaching skills with my swimming ability and goals. My husband got to hang around and take pictures – thanks, Shady!
The facility is a converted garage with an endless pool taking up roughly half of the space. Up a few stairs is the bathroom/shower/changing and waiting area. It was nice and warm. That’s one thing that was different from swim lessons in a pool – I always get cold at clinics and lessons. Not a problem at Winning Swimming.
As I mentioned, I’ve never tried swimming in an endless pool. I told Coach Caron my 100 yd pace, she got the jets going, and I entered the current. Whoa, wild! She played around with the speed until it was about right. I was kind of stressed out at first thinking I had to keep up, but was eventually able to relax (a little) into my swim. I expect I’ll be better at getting into my usual rhythm when I do it again.
The pool setup: There’s a mirror on the bottom of the pool so the swimmer can see their body position and hand entry (totally cool), and there are 4 camera views projected onto the wall so Coach Caron can watch what the swimmer is doing from various angles.
Video analysis is offered (see “improve your swim” on the website for the full range of services).
The upshot? Coach Caron really listens. She wants to know your swim goals and will work with you to achieve them – not only freestyle; she can help with the other strokes, too. I only had the short swim test, but I feel really comfortable that she can offer some technique tips to help with my goal of swimming longer distance events without destroying myself (and maybe even go faster!). She already suggested a few things that I’m trying to incorporate into my stroke. I plan to see how the next month or so goes, and then schedule a more in-depth lesson.
- Oh, and although there was no swim test* trauma, we succumbed to the call of the outlets and bought a new pyrex (among other things) on our way home!
[*silly me, it was a “test swim” not a “swim test”!]
Actually, I’d spread SwimVacation love even without swag, but I’m not going to pass up a cool t-shirt!
Hopper, the owner of SwimVacation sent out an email asking for “ambassadors” to wear SV gear, pass out SV caps, and basically talk about the awesomeness of SwimVacation while at swim-related events. It just so happened that I was due to represent my tri team at the yearly expo, Tri-Mania Boston, around the time his email went out. Score! I could do double-duty while working my hour at the Team EnVision booth.
So… if you have any interest in swimming in amazing places, check out SwimVacation. The trips are small, so every swimmer can swim as much or as little as s/he wants. Sign up for a trip you won’t forget or regret. My husband and I went to the British Virgin Islands, but there are also trips to Hawaii and Turkey (new in 2016).
Every trip has it’s own feel depending on the makeup of the group, of course, but you can look at the SwimVacation Blogs to see what generally happens on a week in swimming paradise.
Next opportunity to pass out caps? Hmm, there are some 5k swims I might do this summer. That’s just the population I need.
SWIM I get this email in early October: SwimVacation needs to fill their December trip to the British Virgin Islands and they’re offering a discount to alums as incentive. My husband and I went on a short SwimVacation trip to a lake in Maine a few years back (see old blog post) thus the email in my in-box. Lucky us! We had been talking about doing SwimVacation BVI someday, but the trip isn’t cheap so we were dragging our feet and saving some money. On a lark, I brought up the possibility of signing up – hey, discount! To my surprise and glee, he said “sure, let’s go”. So we did. And here are some pictures to prove it.
SwimVacation BVI in a nutshell: get to Village Cay Marina at the designated meeting time, dinghy ride to the Promenade (our trimaran home for the week), stow shoes – barefoot for a whole week ! – settle in, swim at least twice a day *every day* in beautiful places among the islands, eat (and drink, if so inclined), make new swimmy friends… As their logo says, “Swim. Relax. Repeat.” Sun and 80 degree Caribbean water? In December? Yes, please.
Check out the SV blog to see how it looks and book your next trip to BVI! Or Hawaii. Or Turkey (new trip). I might write more specifics about the trip in a future blog, but if you want details before then, feel free to ask in a comment.
BIKE nothing to report. I haven’t been on my road bike for a while now – just spin classes (). I plan to try out a computrainer class in January. I’m scared. And we’re doing a run afterward. It just might kill me. Wish me luck.
RUN this is starting to be a more common category for me: I’ve been doing more of it (stupid peer pressure). I did a 5k fun run on Thanksgiving and broke a 9 min/mile pace! Nothing like the fear of getting lost to make me go faster – I had to keep the people ahead of me in sight. Cuteness overload warning: mini pig in a santa suit at the end of the run.
READ I went through a brief period of bad books, but seem to have come out the other side. Phew! I just ready Jojo Moyes’ The Ship of Brides and loved it. I really like her books. Now I’m diving into The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philip Sendker.
and… EAT! SwimVacation meant I didn’t cook or bake for a week (the food was great, by the way), but I couldn’t resist making a chocolate whiskey cake when we got home.
I’ll blame our birthdays (mine and my husband’s). Can’t have birthdays without cake. I think it’s illegal.
And then this happened, too, ’cause, why not?!