Empire State Senior Games – Cortland, NY (Swim Meet)

IMG_0933I was looking forward to this event; it was supposed to start with a triathlon on 6/11 then a swim meet on 6/18. Unfortunately the triathlon got canceled because of low numbers (only 8 people signed up for it). The venue where they were going to have the triathlon also does one in September so we were given the choice to do the tri then because it’s a qualifier for the National Senior games in Alabama in 2017. Just my luck it’s on the same day as another tri that I’ve done for the last 3 years. Good thing I have some time to consider which one I want to do.

I’d registered to swim 4 events; 100y & 50y freestyle and 100y & 50y breaststroke. I swim twice a week for my triathlon training but I haven’t spent any time training for this swim meet. I haven’t done any all out speed swims but I felt that I’d be OK as I wasn’t taking it too seriously. I did a light 30 minute swim on Friday just because I wanted to swim and still didn’t do any fast swims. The venue was an hour and a half away but things didn’t get started until 8am so there was no need for me to get up any earlier than I normally do.

I swam this event last year (my first ever swim meet) and I had a great time so I definitely wanted to do it again. Quite a few of the people here are swimmers that I’ve seen in other swim meets that I’ve participated in since that first time, and a lot of them I remember me from last year. And as no surprise I still get the “are you sure you’re 50”…I just laugh it off! After picking up the swim heat sheet I see that they have me down for 5 events not 4. They have me entered into the 100y IM (Individual Medley). I’ve never swam this event in my life! I knew I could do the strokes required for it (breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke and freestyle). I went to the scorer’s table and almost had it taken off but I decided to go ahead and try it. Problem is I didn’t know what order to do the strokes in or how to make the turns. I went to my friend Joe who was also supposed to swim the heat but he had to scratch because of a medical issue. He explained to me what I needed to do. I got in some practice laps and a few dives off the blocks then sat back and chilled waiting on my first event.

100y IM
I watched the heats that went before me just to make sure I knew what I had to do. Off the blocks first up was the butterfly (I normally get winded after 25y doing this stroke). For some reason I felt calm doing it. Maybe that was because I was so distracted by thinking about what I had to do next and what kind of turn I needed to make. I hit the wall and went backwards into the backstroke. I went a little deep and was under water for longer than I wanted to be. I actually started my stroke while I was partially submerged…I knew this would make me loose time because I could feel the resistance of the water as I went into my stroke. Now I’ve never done the backstroke in competition…actually I haven’t done the backstroke in years. I did get 2 laps of backstroke during practice but they were nice and slow. I had my head up looking back at my feet for probably half the lap before I thought to hold it back further and look at the ceiling. I was expecting to see a yellow rope to signify I was getting close to the wall but it didn’t come and I smashed my arm into the wall. Turns out on one end of the pool they had a yellow rope and a flag rope. On the block end they just had the flag rope. After hitting the wall I tucked, pushed of the wall and went into the breaststroke. Now I was in a more comfortable stroke. I got through the length of the pool great then made the turn for the freestyle. I was motoring pretty well but I was breathing every stroke. I knew it wasn’t efficient to swim this way but I was just looking to finish off the event. I finished 4th in the heat, 1st in my age group.

100y Breaststroke
I got a great start on this event. I could see that there was only one guy slightly ahead of me. He edged a little more ahead of me on each turn so he had to be better than me off the wall. After the last turn I picked it up and started to catch him but he got to the wall about 3 strokes ahead of me. Afterwards I figured if I had stepped it up after the 50 I probably would have caught him. I finished the heat in 2nd and 2nd in my age group.

50y Freestyle
I was in lane 1 which put me next to the wall. Normally I don’t like swimming next to the wall but I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I got another great start on this one. As I approached the wall I was trying to decide if I was going to do a flip turn or open. By the time I decided I was practically into the wall. I did an open turn then headed back. I didn’t take any breathes on the 25 yards and only 2 on the way back. After I hit the wall I looked up and only saw one other guy at the wall. I turned and looked up at the clock…lane 1 – 1 – 0:29.81…WooHoo, 1st place, even with an open turn…awesome! I don’t know what happed but when I went up for my medal I got the silver and the other guy got the gold. Everyone I talked to said they saw the clock and they saw me out touch him. I should have gone up to the table and questioned it but I was waiting for them to post the times but they never did. I know I won it so that’s good enough for me.

100y Freestyle
There’s only 3 of us in this event and while we were standing at the blocks waiting to start the other 2 guys were telling me that they have nothing for me and congratulating me on my win. I just smiled and told them to have a good swim. This time I was intent on doing flip turns. Off the start I went into a somewhat fast but not too fast stroke. I was already a half body length on them on the first 25. My last flip turn was a little week as I flipped too far away from the wall. I only got a little push but I was so far ahead of the other 2 guys that I just put it in coast mode to save my arms for my last event. I finished 1st in the heat and 1st in my age group.

50y Breaststroke
I was matched up with the guy that beat me in the 100 so I wanted redemption. Off the blocks I got a great entry and pull under water. After I surfaced I couldn’t see anyone in my peripheral view. I hit the wall and as I turned I could see that the other guy was also turning. As we were coming into the finish I looked to see where he was. I turned back and did a couple more strokes before touching the wall. He just out touched me at the wall. Afterwards I was talking to one of the guys that I was sitting near and he said we were neck and neck throughout the whole swim until I looked over. He said just then I lost ground. I’ll have to make sure to never do that again! So I finished 2nd in the heat and 2nd in my age group.

So I came home with 2 gold and 3 silver medals…last year it took them a long time to post the results so I guess it will be awhile before I see the times on that 50y freestyle. Oh well, I still had a great time and now I have to get ready for sprint triathlon in a week so it’s back to training!


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