Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back in the Pool

All good things must come to an end. So says the proverb. And it was true of my summer swimming at Grant Ranch. Because the Pete Alfino and the good folks at Mile High Multisport made weekday swimming available, it more or less negated the need for me to do any lap swimming all summer long.

I’m sure that sounds strange (maybe even wrong) to folks who don’t have the same ready access to open water swimming that we enjoy here in metro Denver, but it’s true. Between Aquaman, Stroke & Stride, COMSA sponsored swimming at Chatfield Reservoir and, of course, the MHM sponsored swim times at Grant Ranch, I can complete all of my swim work outs in open water. In other words, in the same conditions under which I race.

I’m sure there are die-hard swimmers who would wonder how I get my intervals, kick drills and other swimming specific work outs done. To them I would answer that I don’t. I just swim. The extra work might shave a few minutes off my 70.3 time, but not a lot. For me, the return on investment isn’t high enough.

So since the middle of May, I’ve been swimming at Grant Ranch when not racing. I averaged about 1:41 per hundred yards during each of my eleven appearances there and except for a couple of times when weather intervened, was usually swimming the full 1.2 mile course.

Even in an outdoor pool, there’s just nothing that compares to being out in a wide-open lake in the wetsuit. I love looking back and seeing my wake disrupt the otherwise glassy surface. I love watching buoys barely visible grow as I approach them. I love looking back over a vast distance and saying to myself, “I just swam that.”

However, even if the lake had stayed open past Labor Day weekend, eventually it will be too cold to swim. I’d guess even in a month it will be pretty chilly. It can’t go on all year. Not in this state.

That necessitated my return to the Parker Rec Center pool. I last swam there on May 10 as I was preparing for the Summer Open Sprint. To be honest, I knew I needed the workout but I was not really looking forward to it. The facility is more than adequate and though a 50 meter pool would be ideal, there are only a few of those in the whole state. For around eight months a year, this is my training venue. So be it.

Much to my surprise, I felt great.

The workout started off right with an open lane. No sharing, no circle swimming, and no guy telling me he could not share because he “had a workout to do.” That actually happened last winter. Just me going back and forth.

Without no wetsuit and the need to turn every 25 yards, I’m a bit slower, but I felt great nearly the whole time. I had a bit of a niggle in my left shoulder during the last 500 yards or so, but it was not very painful and I kept going strong. Before I knew it, I had completed my 2000 yard swim and I felt good.

Will every swim workout be this good? No. I’m sure there are going to be some that suck. Maybe I’ll even run into Mr. Important with his “workout” but I’ll just have to tell him too bad like I did last time.

Despite my overwhelming preference for open water, I remembered that my biggest performance gains have come in the water. Three years ago my average hundred yard time was well over 2:30 and that was for a mere 750 yards. The improvements came in that same pool. I suspect it has more good things to offer in the future.

Of course, with upcoming races in San Diego and Austin, I’m not quite done swimming in the open. But to be ready, I know I’ll be doing a lot more back and forth at the Parker Rec Center.

Thanks for reading!

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