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UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet - Swim

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Buffalo, New York
United States
Total Time = 25m 82s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I am writing this race report to record my memories of this event. I set a Niagara District Masters Swimming age group record.

I came to swimming in my mid-to-late thirties. I did not swim competitively in my youth. In fact, I had to take remedial swimming to graduate from college. (My college required everyone to pass a swim test to graduate, which I failed.) I started swimming because I wanted to do a triathlon. I did triathlons from my mid 30s to mid 40s. Even from the beginning, I was a good triathlon swimmer, usually finishing in the top 10% of all swimmers.

In my early 40s, I was definitely focused on triathlons. But I would do the occasional swim meet. My first was at age 41. I was not particularly competitive as a swimmer, but I enjoyed them and enjoyed the various strokes. My first time racing the 50 yard butterfly was at age 42 and my time was 30.27 seconds.

I stopped competing in triathlons about age 45 but continued to swim to stay in some shape. Without really realizing it, I continued to improve. And much to my significant surprise, I qualified for USMS Nationals at age 46. It was the 50 fly that I first qualified for USMS Nationals. My story of that event is here.

My 50 fly time at that Nationals was 26.93. Going to Nationals turned me into a competitive swimmer. I had so much to learn. I continued to improve through my late 40s. I continued to try new techniques. Try different points of emphasis. At age 48, my times started dropping. First to 26.53. Then to 26.29. At Nationals that year, I went 26.20. That race report is here.

At age 48, I think it was that I first started looking ahead. The USMS Niagara District record for men 50-54 in the 50 yard fly was 26.57. It was a record that had been on the books since 2000 and held by a swimmer with many, many records over many age groups. At age 48, I went under that record 3 times with improving times in succession.

I began to do some specific strength training for swimming and butterfly in particular. A significant focus on core work. I also tried to find some strength moves to mimic the pull down motion in fly. I was able to co-opt the machines with a pull down bar to work the muscles used in fly. I worked on jumping, to try to maximize my start and turn. I regularly would do both box jumps and standing broad jumps from a stance similar to what I use off the blocks. All of these jumps, pull down machines, and core work became part of my usual strength routine.

I set a personal best time of 26.18 at age 49. Modest improvement

I can't pretend that I was perfect in my workout routines or swim time in the pool over the last year or so. Life is busy. Actually, I have a lot going on in my life right now. I recently started a business. I have a lot of timely family things going on, at both the parent and child level. Many of these factors led to my not going to Nationals this year.

Despite all of these things going on, I would work on my fly. Most every time I'd go to the pool, I would work on my fly sprinting. This summer, I would play around with different points of emphasis on my stroke to see what was faster in a 25. I also continued to work the strength areas of emphasis when I had time to get to the gym. I was doing these things specifically to go after the Niagara record. It was foremost in my mind when I was working out or swimming over the last year plus.

This Fall, I have been swimming and working out some. Not at a level that I would ideally do to leading up to a big event like Nationals. I've only been in the water 2-3 times a week. Dry land stuff only 1, maybe 2 times a week. Too many other life events going on to do much more. I would say that I've been swimming reasonably well given the amounts I've been able to focus on it.

The notice of the event only came out about 10 days before. It actually was a first-of-its-kind event. It was a combined event for USMS and college club swimming. There were college kids from about 20 club teams as well as close to 30 masters swimmers. I signed up somewhat haphazardly, thinking it'd be my first chance at the record. Eh, why not see where I'm at?

I specifically only signed up for 2 races, the 50 breast and the 50 fly. Breast is my least competitive stroke. I signed up for that to give myself a feel for the blocks. Breast also has a similar turn to fly. I felt this would be the best event to test conditions without unduly fatiguing me.

I was not able to workout in the two days before the event. I'd normally at least swim for 30 minutes in the days before an event. But too much going on. I did go to my normal Masters swim that morning. I swam about 1000 yards to loosen up.

I also talked some with Coach. I had not planned on shaving or wearing my best technical swim suit. But she said I should do that. So when I got home, I shaved my body. I had not done that in about 18 months. Can't say it was the best shave job I had done, but I did it. I also packed my best suit.
Event warmup:

It was a little over an hour drive to the meet. I put on my favorite music artist. As it turned out, a song came on that occasionally sends shivers down my spine. Today it did. And for some reason, I also felt a huge amount of tension release from my body with the shivers. I actually started crying a bit, the release was so strong. Like I said, I've been under a lot of stress recently. A sense of calm came over me. I took it as a good sign.

I got to the arena and found my way to the pool. The event was late getting started but whatever. I was interesting seeing all of the college club team swimmers. There were some REALLY good swimmers, and some not so much.

I did a typical swim warmup. Tried to get loosened up again and get my body ready to race. I tried out the blocks a few times to work on starts. The blocks were different from what I'm used to. They had a back fin. I don't normally have that. I could never quite get fully comfortable with how to set up on the blocks to feel like I could explode on the start. During breaks once the meet went on, I would get up on the blocks and try different setups to find one that felt comfortable. I never was able to really find one I liked.

The 50 fly was one of the last events. The 50 breast was a bit over half way through. So I had a bit of a wait. I watched some teammates swim their races.

Time finally came for my 50 breast. I had a decent start. The rest of the event was unremarkable. My time was the slowest in several years. Whatever. I got a feel for the blocks and turn.

I still had another long wait for the 50 fly. My back was getting a bit sore from standing on the pool deck and sitting on bleachers. I actually lay down on a bleacher for awhile and closed my eyes. I was tired. I didn't sleep all that well the night before. After doing that for awhile, I got up. Back still sore. I decided to warm up again in the side pool. I did a few laps. A few higher level efforts to get my heart rate up a bit. To get my body warmed up to go hard when needed. Probably the right idea.

As I walked back to where we were sitting, a woman official said that I looked tired. Yes, she was right.

I dried off and tried to get warm. It was getting closer to race time.
  • 25m 28s
  • 50 yards
  • 50m 56s / 100 yards

I was in the fastest heat on the outside in lane 8. The other people in my heat were all college kids. I made my seed time the record, 26.57.

Before getting on the blocks, I was mentally trying to key myself up. Trying to get myself going. Trying to trigger that fight/flight adrenaline response.

It was time to get on the blocks. I got in as good of a position as I could having tried a few. The start beep went off.

My start was less than ideal. I kind of felt like I mostly fell forward into the water. I would have liked to explode off the blocks, similar to my jumping practice moves. I usually do get some good air on my starts. At least I entered fairly cleanly with minimal splash. That is key.

I dolphin kick a few times and up I come and stroke hard. I try to lead the landing of each stroke with my chest, something that I've been working on the last couple of months. My stroke feels good. I decide to take a breath about at the far flags. Not sure that I needed it, but I did. One more stroke and I'm at the wall. The wall comes at a good part of my stroke in that I could take a full stroke into the wall without having to glide. This is very different from what happened at Nationals 18 months ago. The wall came at about the perfect place in the stroke cycle.

My turn was good. Nothing glamorous or great but solid. I dolphin a couple of times and go right back to stroking.

I stroke as hard as I can. I start feeling a need for air about the halfway mark. I tell myself, "There is no way you are taking a breath until this is over!!! You can do it! GO!!!!!!" My lungs are screaming toward the end but I continue to stroke hard.

The final wall is only a touch off in the stroke cycle. I have to glide a short bit for the wall. Maybe a foot, but not much. Not enough to even do a dolphin kick.

I cannot read the clock with my goggles on. I pull them off. Squinting, I think I see 25.82. WHAT? I WENT UNDER 26?? Its not 26.82????? I ask an official standing close by and she says 25.82!

I yell out in joy! "NIAGARA RECORD, YES!!!!!!" I make a big splash. Several nearby people congratulate me. I actually get a couple of tears. I reached a multi-year goal. My name will be in the record books.

I broke the record by 0.75 seconds! I also could not believe that I set a PR by almost 0.4 seconds. It was my first time under 26 seconds. I really was not expecting a time that fast.
What would you do differently?:

Instead of focusing on what I'd do differently, I'll note a few things.

1) I did not have a good start. I regularly do work to try to improve my starts. I'll have to think about how to incorporate a back fin. If I go to Nationals again, they will have back fins on the blocks. I want to be ready for that.

2) Watching a video replay of the race, there are a couple technical things that I might be able to improve.

3) I think this result very clearly shows that my work is translating to better performance. Particularly the dry land strength training. I was not ideally trained and still swam a personal best by a significant margin.

4) I am very glad that I followed Coach's advice to shave and wear my best suit.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

After getting home and looking at a few things, I found:

1) I lowered the record by 0.75 seconds. A large amount for a 50 yard race.

2) My time was less than 0.25 second behind Matt Biondi's best time last year. He is in my age group.

3) The record has a chance to stay around for awhile. There is someone about 18 months younger than me who might be able to beat it. But it would be his best swim in several years to do so.

4) I feel like I might be able to beat this time. I could have a better start. I also could be more focused in my training. I might tweak my stroke a bit to make it better. That said, both walls came near the right place in my stroke cycle. That was huge.

5) I hope to show my example of work over time to my boys. I have a son who might be able to play college basketball. Having him recognize the value of consistent work over time would be a great life lesson.

6) I hope that I can inspire other adult onset swimmers. Obviously, my results are unusual. But that is not to say that we cannot be good swimmers. Just because we didnt swim as kids doesnt mean we can't do it pretty well as adults.

Event comments:

An interesting meet combining both Masters swimming and college club swim teams.

Last updated: 2018-10-21 12:00 AM
00:25:28 | 50 yards | 50m 56s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2018-10-21 4:02 PM

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Rochester, NY
Subject: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet

2018-10-21 11:30 PM
in reply to: #5250940

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Great White North
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet

400 IM (SCM pool) Oct 14 meet in Calgary.
2018-10-21 11:31 PM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Great White North
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet
2018-10-21 11:31 PM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Great White North
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet
2018-10-21 11:32 PM
in reply to: 0

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Great White North
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet
Canada Masters Nats

Alberta Masters Champs

Edited by simpsonbo 2018-10-21 11:34 PM
2018-10-22 9:17 PM
in reply to: #5250940

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Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet
Congrates Rob. Awesome work.

2018-10-23 4:58 AM
in reply to: dexter

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Canandaigua NY
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet

Nice race Rob!!  Congratulations!

2018-10-25 1:04 PM
in reply to: #5250940

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Lethbridge, Alberta
Bronze member
Subject: RE: UB Club Swimming and USMS Joint Meet
Congratulations Rob!!
2018-11-27 7:43 AM
in reply to: #5250940

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