I'm afraid I failed to tell you about Masters Nationals. Big mistake. HUGE.
Why? Because it is one of the most fun events of the year. And, if I were the bragging type, I'd tell you how I rocked it.
Mark and I dearly love our friends at US Masters Swimming (USMS). Shout out to Rob, Laura, Tracey, Jim, and Anna Leah... there are others, too, but I have a hard enough time keeping the attention of my readers, so that is the shortened list.
"What is Masters Swimming?" you ask... read all about it here.
There are plenty of Masters swimming events throughout the year including both pool and open water events, but twice a year USMS holds a national pool event. They're great! Competitors range in age from early twenty-something to mid ninety-something. Everyone swims together, enjoys the water, and puts on their best game face to swim their very best (whatever that may mean to each individual). For example, I consider myself a recreation swimmer... and that is being generous considering I swam a whopping 3 times since last year's USMS Nationals before my races in August. I call it the eternal taper. My goal was to make it to the other end of the 50m pool without having to stop for a breather. Mark, on the other hand, swims a lot and was gunning for a Masters World record.
USMS Nationals was held at our home pool. Though Mark had just stepped foot of the plane from Shanghai (well, a couple days earlier), we packed up the swim bag and headed to the pool. In warm-up, Mark taught me how to do a pull-out as I was slated to swim the 50 breaststroke. I must say, I am a good student and got it pretty quick. Though it didn't help much that I forgot the pull-out in the actual race (I just got too excited to pop up and start swimming). I died in my race. I felt the piano drop, but I made it without stopping. My exit from the pool, on the other hand, was less than graceful. With absolutely no energy left I literally dragged myself onto the edge, butt up, squirming to pull my legs underneath men. Every ounce of athleticism had deserted me. An official lended a hand. A bit embarrassing, but I am no stranger to embarrassment. So, I thanked the man and humbly walked over to Mark who was laughing. Mark said, "Well, honey, you went for it."
At the end of the day we brought home a gold medal, a Masters World record, and a third place finish. The gold medal and record belong to our everyday Olympian, and the third place finish was all mine. Pretty impressive, right? Well, not so much when I tell you that there were only three competitors in my age group.
My friends often ask why I subject myself to humiliation at Masters nationals each year. "You are not a swimmer," they say. Well, at USMS nationals I am. There is no shame in USMS, just fun.