Empire State Senior Games, Cortland, NY

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This was my 3rd event in 4 weeks straight of competition. I was confidence I’d do well in this swim meet because of the how I performed at the National Senior Games the week before. I’d signed up for 5 events; the 50 & 100 yard freestyle and the 50, 100 & 200 yard breaststroke. But unlike the National games where I only swam one or two events in a day, I had to swim them all in the same day for the state games. Another difference, and this is probably the most critical, was the amount of people competing. Nationals had 100’s of people competing where States was lucky to have 50. This in turn would make a drastic difference in the number of heats between events. Case in point at Nationals I had one day where I swam in the 100 breaststroke and the 50 freestyle. There were so many heats in between the events that I had almost 2 hours rest between my two swims. The entire State swim competition lasted about 2.5 hours! So as you can probably tell I wasn’t getting much rest in between events but I knew that going in so I’d just had to see how things shook out.

200 yard freestyle – Gold Medal

I was slightly nervous about this because I missed practice and didn’t get any practice off the blocks. Considering my last 3 swim events at Nationals my goggles got filled with water and I couldn’t see, that weighed on my mind a bit. At the sound of the horn I was off. After hitting the water and not getting any in my goggles I instantly relaxed. For some odd reason I just felt much smoother in the water. My stroke just felt very efficient. I was in the last lane on the right and didn’t really see anyone until about 100 yards in. That’s when I could see that there wasn’t anyone near me. On the last 2 turns I kind off lost my breath and couldn’t stay under for a full glide on my push off the wall and popped up right away. I need to work on my exhaling when I’m in my turns because I tend to hold my breath and that’s not good. On the last 25 I went to my quick turn over to finish off the 200. I knew I didn’t need to do it but I wanted to finish strong. After I hit the wall I turned and looked up at the clock…3:03.54! Wow, I’d just dropped over 12 seconds off my previous best…Woohoo, my confidence just soared.

50 yard freestyle – Bronze Medal

They did the awards ceremony after my 200 so I got about 10 minutes or so of rest before this event. I got a decent start off the blocks and my goggles were fine. I could see that the guy to my left was slightly ahead of me so I knew I had work to do. As I got close to the wall I lost all confidence in my flip turn so I bailed on it and did an open turn. I didn’t feel as comfortable in this stroke as I did in the breaststroke. I felt like I was fighting the water. After touching the wall I looked up at the clock and saw 30.39 and thought, oh that sucks. Then I saw the 1st place guys time, 25.54, wow that’s fast. This was my 3rd state games and I’d never seen a time that low. Looks like we have some new blood in the games!

100 yard breaststroke – Gold Medal

I got about 15 minutes rest before this event so I thought I’d be good to go for a strong swim. Off the start the guy to my left popped up ahead of me but my stroke was much better than his and I caught him at the first wall. After that I slowly pulled away from him to finish in 1:22.42. About 2 seconds off my PR but a good time considering I was on my 3rd swim of the day. I didn’t know it at the time but there was another guy in the event with us who was in the 55-59 age group and he spanked all of us. I talked to him after the meet and found out he’s the coach of the Binghamton swim team and he’s been swimming for over 40 years. He said “you have a good breaststroke”. I said thanks. As he was walking away I said well I’m still learning but I need some coaching. He said then come to Binghamton. I thought to myself, if it wasn’t 2 hours away I would…who am I kidding, where would I find the time!

100 yard freestyle – Bronze Medal

I got about 10 minutes rest before this one because those award ceremonies kept falling in my favor. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do but I was going to give it my all. I knew the guys that beat me the 50 were also going to be in this event along with one other guy so I knew I couldn’t slack and expect to get a medal. I was also going to make sure I did my flip turns. Off the start I felt good going into the first wall. I made my first flip and it was OK but could have been better. The next two turns were terrible. It was like I’d never done them before. After the last one I knew I needed to dig hard to get to the finish. After I touched the wall my heart rate was through the roof. I looked up at the clock and saw 1:13.45 3rd place. Not a PR but I’ll take it. The first place guy swam a 57, that guy is fast!

50 yard breaststroke – Gold Medal

I only got about 3 minutes before this one. I was still breathing heavy from the 100. I was standing at the block trying to do everything I could to get my breathing in check. There was no way I was going to be able to beat anyone in this race because I already felt wiped out. There was 4 of us in this heat so I had already conceited that I’d probably not even medal. I was standing there taking giant breaths and forcing myself to breath slower hoping my heart rate would settle. I got somewhat of a little reprieve when they had to wait for a woman from the previous heat to get out of the pool. Once she got out they whistled for us to get up on the blocks. I wasn’t breathing as hard as I was before but I certainly didn’t see a win in my future. I was a little slow off the horn and when I surfaced the guy to my left had ¾ of a body length on me. This was the guy who finished 2nd to me in the 100 breaststroke. He hadn’t swam since then so he should have been well rested. He had enough of a lead on me at the wall for me to see him touch and turn. After I turned and surfaced and I thought about just settling in because he had a full body length on me. I had no idea where anyone else was because I was focusing on him. But then I thought to myself no, don’t give up…you can catch him. And then I went into my fast turn over. I didn’t know if I could sustain it to the end but I was using all the power my legs and arms could muster. I could see myself gaining on him after every stroke. I caught him just as we got close to the wall and could clearly see that my last stroke was going to get to the wall before his but I still gave it one of the hardest\fastest thrust to the wall that I’ve ever done. I turned and looked at him first before looking at the clock. I reached out and shook his hand and said good race. I could see the disappointment in his face but he responded likewise. I turned and looked at the clock…38.53 1st place. No where near a personal record but good enough today. I turned back to get out of the pool and had to muster up enough strength to get out of the pool. My day was done and I was happy because I didn’t have anymore in me. It was time for some rest so I could get prepared for my next event coming up in a week…the Tupper Lake Tinman Sprint Triathlon!

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