stephen | November 9, 2007 ( 5:30 PM)

Swimming Season

This Sunday will be the first swim meet that I've raced in since the summer of 1996. I expect that I will have both feelings of nostalgia and regret when I walk onto the pool deck in West Bloomfield. Heck, I'm already feeling them now!

A bit of personal history: swimming had once been a significant part of my life growing up. I started when I was five, influenced largely by my older sister. I did fairly well at competitions and stayed with the sport for about a decade. Then, part way through high school I began to lose interest. There were many factors in my decision to stop swimming, but the biggest was that our school didn't have a team. However, by my senior year, things changed and a team was formed. Since we didn't have a pool, practices were held at the university. I ended up captaining that team, as well as setting many of the records our inaugural year. Though I did well that season, it wasn't enough to get me to the state meet or qualify for the UofM team. Since then, I've been resentful that there wasn't a team throughout my high school career. I feel very strongly that if I had been trained and pushed during that critical development period that I would have been much more successful in the pool. I have a lot of "what ifs" stemming from this.

I continued to swim the summer after I graduated from high school with the Alma swim club. I got to experience what a good coach could teach me and the strong program of dedicated athletes that he put together. It made it worth the 30 minute drive both ways, 5 days a week, to train with them. Near the end of the summer, we capped our training off by swimming across Lake Higgins, from the south beach to the north beach. Approximately 7 miles. It was my first endurance event and an accomplishment I'm still proud of.

Once the summer was over and I started college though, I pretty much stopped swimming. School took a lot of my time and swimming really wasn't a priority anymore.

It wasn't until I started doing triathlons last year that I began training to swim again. In each race I normally finished in the top 4% of the field in the water. I've made it my goal this winter to push that up to the top 1-2% next season. Practically, I should be trying to strengthen my weakness, which is the bike. But I don't enjoy riding on the bike trainer and treadmill all winter. I'd rather improve in what I enjoy doing the most. I think swimming will keep my fitness level the highest while it's cold out because I will want to do it more. Also, there's something really enticing about being the first out of the water at a triathlon. It's the crowds first recognizable leader and probably my only chance of ever being in the lead during a triathlon.

So, that's how I've arrived here on the starting blocks again. I've set some high expectations of myself. By the state meet in April, I want to beat my personal records from high school. It will be my chance to improve on what I had once thought was an unfortunate end to my swimming career. Too bad I didn't realize then that swimming is really a life long sport.

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Stephen's 2008 Race Schedule

Date Events Location
2/10 swim meet Brighton
2/17 swim meet Grand Haven
3/2 swim meet West Bloomfield
3/16 swim meet Milford
3/30 YMCA Indoor Tri Ann Arbor
4/5 10k Martian Meteor
4/18 - 4/20 1650 free,
1000 free,
500 free,
200 free,
100 free,
200 IM,
100 IM
State meet @ EMU
5/4 10k Burns Park Run
6/1 Half Mary Dexter/A2
6/8 Sprint A2 Tri
7/13 Sprint Waterloo
8/2 Half IM Steelhead