Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blakeney Masters

So it's been quite well documented that swimming is my weakest of the three triathlon disciplines.  Just to prove it to you, let's look at my performance at Ironman Chattanooga.  With a huge current that kept me much closer to the leaders than any other course would, I was way back in the pack.  I mean coming out of the water in 737th place out of almost 1,600 non-pro men, isn't exactly impressive.  Thats the 46th percentile.  Compare that to my bike and run splits that were both in the top 1% (well 0.7% and 0.5% respectively).

So there's some work to do. I put more yards in last year than ever before.  I did a lot of 4,000+ yard workouts.  Most of that was on my own.  I was still going to Masters in Rock Hill, but the last few months I had been swimming in my lane by myself.  There are quite a few different group levels, and quite a few lanes in the pool.  So consequently, there are not a lot of people in each group.  So I'm ahead of the beginners, but not fast enough for anyone else.
The Bubble
I got the workouts, and they were great, but no instruction.  I guess I was hoping that there would be more "coaching".  There really was none of that.  The people were great, and it did help me a lot last year, but I still felt like I needed more.
Sans Bubble.  Someday I will see this!
So my friend, Melissa, at Inside Out Sports gave me Patty Waldron's email.  I had meant to contact her at the beginning of the year, but I was a slacker.  I finally got to meet her at fellow Big Sexy Brad's fundraiser, Bubbles for Bears.  It was good to connect with her and put a face to the name.  So shortly thereafter I showed up on a Wednesday in the middle of February.
Bubbles for Bears with the Big Sexy Crew
The Blakeney Swim and Racquet Club is located on Rea Road south of I-485.  It takes me about 17-18 minutes to get there at 5 o'clock in the morning.  It is an outdoor pool, but they have a bubble.  The concrete is still very freaking cold!  As I started swimming there, I quickly realized that these people were hard core.
8 Degrees and Fog
One morning it was 8 degrees outside, and like 30 people showed up to swim in this outside bubble with frozen concrete. Hard Core.  The facilities are probably the least of any pool I've swam at.  Luckily none of that really matters.

This could be fun to swim at in the summer
Patty started instructing me from the get go.  She runs the practices but she doesn't swim.  She observes people and gives instruction along the way.  She also explains the workout, gives encouragement, and yells at people to start intervals.  I never swam growing up, so she is by far the most enthusiastic person about swimming that I have ever met.
Summer, Summer, Summertime
She even took a video of me one morning to show me had bad I was.  Well, she didn't phrase it that way, but you get the point.  I've also begun learning different strokes.  Before Blakeney, I had never done anything other than freestyle.  Now I'm actually learning breaststroke and the backstroke.  No butterfly yet, we'll see.
Bring your Equipment to the Bubble
I did have to get a kickboard.  Like I said, the facilities have a lot to be desired.  So you bring your own paddles, buoy, kickboard, and fins. So I'm starting to get used to it now, and I'm really starting to enjoy it.  I don't have to think about swim workouts.  I just show up, and do the workout.  There is usually 5 or 6 people in the lane, so I can just follow everyone else.  I've never really circle swam before, so that's taken some getting used to.  I'm always afraid I'll get in someone's way because I'm so slow.  Luckily I seem to be able to hold my own during the kicks.
The Clubhouse
After the swim, I dry off some, throw some clothes back on and drive up to the clubhouse to shower.  Sometimes the guy has coffee ready, which is nice.  I hop back in the car and head up to 485 to get into Charlotte.  The traffic is good on 485 as they have the extra lanes opened up from Rea all the way to 77.  I hit some traffic at the 485/77 merger, but overall not too bad.  It is faster than making the drive all the way in from the Rock Hill Aquatics Center.
Yeah, we do some serious kicking
The cost of the group is about the same as the Y.  I did have to join US Masters Swimming.  That's basically for the insurance, so Patty or the Club is not liable.  So I'm gonna stick with it this year.  Patty thinks in 3 months I can make some real progress.  So we'll see at Eagleman 70.3 as that will be a non wetsuit suit.  It will be a true test.  Bring.  It.  On.