Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Alumni Meet "Race" Report

Last weekend, I was up in Boston and Cambridge for my school's annual Alumni Meet, which gives all of the team members who have graduated a chance to swim against the much, much faster current students.

Why race if we get beat so badly? Well, it's not really about the racing. It's more about being able to see the current team, chat with our old coaches, and bond with our fellow alumni. The last part is really great; for example, I got to spend some quality time on deck with Matt.

(Yep, that's really Matt. With an alpaca.)

Some of the returning alumni just jump in for 25s, a few have a running year-to-year bet about who can post the fastest 100 fly time, and others of us just want a chance to see how much swim-specific fitness we've lost. Even if we are slow, we get to be slow in this beautiful pool.

And how slow was I? Oh...this hurts to report. 
  • 50 backstroke: I used to be very, very strong off the walls, with a forceful push and quick dolphin kicks underwater. But Saturday? My start was so horrendous that I was 3/4 of a body length behind the next slowest person before we got to the flags 5 yards from the wall. I registered 36 seconds, which is not anywhere near the 30 I posted my last year of collegiate swimming.
  • 100 backstroke: After timing myself in a few 50s of backstroke in the weeks leading up to the event, I wasn't sure I could break 1:20 in this event. That's a time I used to be able to break in practice. Several times in a row. With ironman training obliterating my ability to really sprint, I pushed as hard as I could, and did a 1:16. Positive note: It was a dead even split, so at least I can still pace myself(?). Negative note: in 2005, I also did a 1:16 100 back. It's just that it was in meters, not yards.
  • 50 free: See above note about sprinting. 32 seconds. Pity, but this was never really my event anyway.
  • 500 free: 200 yards into the race, I remembered that I didn't have to swim another 4000 yards and then bike 112 miles. Seems like time to pick it up a bit? I snuck in just under 6:30 with my 6:28. And it really felt like a sprint. So short, so fast.

For fun, let's compare these times to my times from 2004, which was my 4th year of swimming NCAA.

Event 2004 Time 2012 Time % Increase
50 back :30 :36 20
100 back 1:05 1:16 16.4
50 free :27 :32 18.5
500 free 5:47 6:28 11.8

I think this tells us a few things:
  • I'm slow. Really pathetically slow.
  • I can't sprint anymore.
  • My backstroke is terrible, which is a real tragedy because that was my event.
  • My distance freestyle hasn't suffered as much as everything else. Since I still swim distance freestyle for triathlon training, this makes sense.
The most important takeaway is that I NEED to stop slacking in the pool. Maybe swimming twice a day and getting in three sessions of swimming-specific lifting a week will never happen again in my life, but I can make better use of my time while I am there. I'm going to try to push myself up a lane or two at masters practices so that I can hang on to faster paces, and try to stay there throughout next season. There's no reason for me to lose THIS much speed.



  1. gosh I give you credit just getting out there, swimming is hard. very hard. especially getting motivated in cold weather

  2. Hmm... If I take what I used to be able to do in gymnastics and compare it to today. I would end up with a big nothing.

  3. Sub 6:30! AHHHHHH! That makes me vomit just thinking about. I debate going to my alumni meet...I also debate eating chocolate for every meal...

  4. Oh my good God, those are your SLOW swim times? Jesus, it really puts into perspective for me just how fast real swimmers go.

    Luckily for me the only running I did when I was a teenager was to the fridge for cake and back :P So I don't really have much to compete with!


  5. Even if your time is slower (to you atleast, your time is GREAT), you KNOW you can do get back your time.

  6. yeah... getting old and slow. I was telling my coach about how I try not to think about my old times. We're never going to be back there again.