The Masters Swim Team

Today was the first day of practice of the (school) year for the UIUC Masters Swim Team. The term masters generally means old people. In running this means age 40 and older. In cycling it’s 30 and older. In swimming it’s generally any adult (18 and older).

I began swimming with the masters team in the summer of 2002, shortly before my first triathlon. I had only started swimming a couple months earlier and I was looking to improve with some sort of coaching and training regimen. It worked. Even in my very first triathlon I was near the front of the pack out of the water.

I enjoy swimming, but not to the extent I enjoy running & bicycling. If it weren’t for triathlon I probably wouldn’t swim at all. There, I said it. It was really helpful for my motivation to have a coach, a schedule, and training partners waiting for me four times per week. That’s why I stuck with the masters team for the next couple years. When my knee injury sidelined my running, triathlon went along with it. I continued to swim for maybe a year or so, but as my knee continued to cause problems I eventually lost interest in swimming.

In the mean time, IMPE underwent renovations, closing both the indoor and outdoor pools. There was another pool on campus but it was much smaller and now had much more traffic, so it was pretty crowded.

After about four years off I started running again and it went well. Triathlon was the next natural progression for me, and that meant swimming. The pool situation was still less than ideal. I swam at the other pool on campus a couple times in the spring. In the summer I swam twice per week at the Crystal Lake Pool. By the end of August the renovations were completed at IMPE (now named ARC) and the outdoor pool was reopened.

Now it’s time for masters swimming again. The team meets for 90 minute practices 5 times per week (all optional). Some people train for actual races (swim meets, or in some cases triathlons), others train for fitness, others are there to socialize, and others are there simply to learn how to swim better.

Every once in a while the team organizes practice meets where the team members race each other (for time) at various distances. I participated in one of these meets about five years ago and targeted the 1000 yard race. Most swimmers are terrified of racing that far. I kind of wanted something longer. Interestingly I also participated in a 4×50 yard relay because pretty much everyone else did it. That was an experience.

time lapse video of Rob racing 1000 yards & Joe racing 1600 yards at a practice meet in 2003

The End of August

I took a week off the bike in August and still put in comparable mileage to June & July.

I spent a lot of time on the Pocket Rocket in preparation for the upcoming National Triathlon Championship race in Portland (less than three weeks away). I was skeptical whether this bike would be race worthy, but I laid those doubts to rest in the time trial last Tuesday when I was only three seconds slower on the Pocket Rocket than I was on my Litespeed time trial bike the previous month. In fairness, the weather conditions were better on the day I rode the Pocket Rocket, but it was still in the same ballpark. Since I can pack it into a suitcase and check it on the plane it will save around $250 getting a big wheeled bike to Oregon and back for the race.

Also of note, 2008 just surpassed my previous yearly mileage record from 2005… and it’s only Labor day.

August 2008

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 43.5 Mile 7 6.21429 Mile
Big Red 37.1 Mile 3 12.3667 Mile
El Fuego 23.02 Mile 2 11.51 Mile
Pocket Rocket 270.97 Mile 8 33.8713 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 340.42 Mile 6 56.7367 Mile
Total 715.01 Mile 26 27.5004 Mile

January – August 2008

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 473.73 Mile 73 6.48945 Mile
Big Red 220.82 Mile 16 13.8013 Mile
Dahon 158.13 Mile 28 5.6475 Mile
El Fuego 23.02 Mile 2 11.51 Mile
Litespeed 334.465 Mile 13 25.7281 Mile
Pocket Rocket 637.13 Mile 28 22.7546 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 2757.94 Mile 77 35.8174 Mile
Total 4605.23 Mile 237 19.4314 Mile