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!
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?!
Winter is finally making its presence known here in New England. Gone are the days of swimming at Walden Pond, then going for a ride in the surrounding suburbs of Concord, Carlisle, Lincoln, Weston, etc., maybe following that up with a run… Oh, wait, that “run” part never really happens. Well, maybe once in a while. So now that I’m in the pool and either at a spin class or on my trainer (HA! that’s a lie, my trainer isn’t even set up yet), I’m thinking back to happier, warmer, swimming times: most notably in Greece and the British Virgin Islands. And Maine.
Until a few years ago, I never knew swimming trips even existed. I had heard of organized multisport vacations and bike vacations, of course, and learn-to-swim instructional trips, but nothing for those of us who just want to SWIM. And then I stumbled across SwimTrek. Someone had written in to a swim magazine asking about sun protection because she was going on a SwimTrek. I HAD to know what she was talking about. A year or so later, I found myself in the British Virgin Islands. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about my experience for GoNomad.com.
Soon after that trip my husband became proficient at distance swimming (he was jealous after I got back from BVI and felt he was missing out on swimming across Walden!), and we did a SwimTrek to Greece. Incredible.
This past summer, we spent 4 days on a lake in Maine with SwimVacation, another excellent swim tour company. SwimVacation also offers a trip to BVI and just added Hawaii to their roster!
A nice thing about these trips is that they’re very welcoming. A base level of fitness is important to get the most out of the trip, but you don’t have to be a competitive swimmer – the swims are NOT races. It’s great if you can make the distances, but from what I’ve seen, there’s always a boat nearby for anybody who gets tired and needs, or just wants, a ride.
Ahh, maybe I can daydream winter away while I save up for my next swimming adventure – I’m thinking Croatia.
Read: still working my way through Singing Boy. I will either finish it or fling it soon.
Eat: I tried Frugal Feeding’s Vegetable Mash. It’s really good – even with my misreading of the recipe (!) – but I’m still not crazy about parsnips. FF’s pictures are amazing! Next up: carrot and coriander fritters.