Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Should we call him Flipper?

Remember me? It's been a while. I do intend to continue this blog, but a blistering work schedule, and more recently, and even more demanding Olympics veiewing schedule has been pretty rough.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I competed in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals to raise money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.

Now that I'm somewhat caught up on my sleep, I want to bring up a subject that is weighing on me, and isn't getting much attention. Do you remember last week in the mens 100 meter breaststroke where Brendan Hansen pulled off an unlikely feat of winning the bronze medal from lane 8? Do you remeber the winner of that race, Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa? Did you notice he broke what the world record? Well, if you haven't heard yet, he cheated. That's right, he intentionally broke the rules in order to give himself an advantage, and he admits to it. You haven't heard much about it unless you are a pretty hardcore swim fan like myself. NBC just caught on and posted a story today for something that happend over a week ago. Even the best swim news sites took more than a day to post something about it. But, that could be explained in that if you are going to break a story that is calling an Olympic gold medalist a cheat, you better make sure you are right.

Here are your questions with answers:
What did he do?
In breaststroke at the start, and push off of each wall, you are allowed one stroke pull, and one breaststroke kick underwater before you surface. In 2006, thanks to a similar controversy in the 2004 games in Athens, they added that you are allowed a dolphin kick during that underwater arm pull. Otherwise, all dolphin kicks are illegal. A week ago I saw that posted this video that clearly shows van der Burgh executed 3 illegal dolpin kicks after the start, prior to starting his arm pull, and then one legal dolphin kick.

Okay, he cheated, how much did that help him? There has been some debate. You do not move faster through the water at any point in a race than when you dive in. You can see in the video swimswam posted that VDB kicks immediately upon entry into the water. Some argue performing a dolphin kick at this point creates more resistance than it would replace with  propulsion. I think there has to be some benefit, and the VDB experimented to prove it. I'm sure he experimented to the point that he knew just how many kicks were optimal. And it certainly doesn’t stop there. In order to be certain he can get away with it, he needed someone to watch him to see if the infraction is visible from where everybody knows the officials are watching from. This type of experiment could be completed between ½ hour to 2 hours. You don’t think he spent that amount of time making certain he optimal number of kicks? He knew exactly how much those illegal kicks help him, and he knew exactly how much he could get away with this without getting caught! Now I could conduct a similar experiment to tell you how much this will help me. But, I really don’t want to know how much this would help my race.

So, everyone knows he cheated, what will FINA and/or IOC do? That’s a good question, but the answer is simple. Nothing. If you are a sports fan, at some point in your life you have to come to terms with this one truth, bad calls and missed calls are part of the game. Case in point is last year’s world championships where Filipe Silva of Brazil used dolphin kick at the end of his 50 meter breaststroke to help him win gold. No action was taken. But, in Silva’s case and in Kitajima’s case, they did not admit to an infraction. Should action be taken when a competitor admits to knowingly breaking the rules? It seems the only circumstance they will strip a medal after the fact is for doping. I don't know why doping is the only cheating that receives this type of treatment, but I don't expect this occurance to change that practice.

What does this mean for Cameron van der Burgh's legacy? Well, it's not good. Every time someone thinks of who won that gold medal or who broke that world record, they will remember a cheater did it. Even though he wasn't the only person doing it, he won the race, and he will carry the label. It is unfortunate. Even with that nasty stain, it was an absolutely brilliant performance. I watched in complete awe. NBC had a fantastic shot of his turn, which I showed my son half a dozen times (thank you DVR). And the sickening part, he certainly would have won the gold medal without those illegal kicks. In the following days, he was faced with some difficult questions. His response was without apology or regret. He feels justified in his actions, using the notion that others are doing it, and he can't afford to give up that competitive advantage. I understand his delima, but it hardly gets him off the hook for me. Like it or not, as an elite athlete, you are a role model. Chosing to cheat, getting caught cheating, and being unapologetic about it sends an awful message to impressionable young athletes. I have heard from several sources Cameron is a good, decent young man. I have no reason to doubt that. But even the best men occassional make the wrong call.

Will FINA make changes for the future? Maybe. This is an embarassment for FINA. Athletes are competing outside of the rules. The only people with the power to do something about it, the officials on deck, can not see it while everyone else in the world can. Following the Kitajima controversy in 2004, FINA decided since the deck officials can't see a dolphin kick during the pull out, they will just change the rules to allow it.  Will they decide to allow more kicks? I hope not. I really, really hope not. A seemingly obvious solution would be to allow video review, and let the officals have access to what the rest of the world sees. And why not? Sound familiar baseball fans? So far, much like MLB, FINA has been resistant to allow video review. MLB has slowly allowed limted video review, maybe FINA will get on board with that as well. That is my hope. In fact, I hope they reverse the rule change from 2006, and take dolphin kick out of breaststroke for good. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a breaststroker whose dolphin kick is just plain awful!
Tony, have you done this? Would you ever do it? No, I have never used an illegal dolphin kick in breaststroke. And I don't intend to. But, I'm not going to get on my high horse and label Cameron van der Burgh as evil. You have to understand, I've never had a race with stakes nearly as high as an Olympic final, and being a strong contender for gold. Put in that position, and knowing my competition would cheat, would I choose to cheat? I can't answer that. I hope I wouldn't. Know this, if you are racing me, go ahead and use illegal kicks against me. It doesn't matter to me. I will try to beat you, and I'll do it fair and square.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Full Meet Recap!

I gave a daily recap of each day I competed in the 2012 Marriott USMS Summer Nationals.  There are still some things I want to share with you that occurred over the weekend.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I competed in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals to raise money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog. If you have not done so yet, its not too late, so please click on My Donation Page on the right to help rebuild the Autism Center that was completely destroyed by the Joplin tornado last year.

So, I thought I would share a collection of factoids and stats from the weekend I think you'll find interesting. Some you may have already read in my previous posts, but many you haven't. So, here goes
  • You might have heard my say "I'm only 40 in meters". In setting age groups, USMS for yards meets uses your actual age the day of the meet. In meters, they use your age at the end of the year. I'm 39, but since I turn 40 in October, I competed in the 40-44 age group.
  • This meet had 1,253 swimmers entered, making it the second largest summer nationals in USMS history. See, we can put on a pretty good meet here in the midwest!!
  • I swam in Lane 0! That was a first. The pool was set up with 10 lanes, 0-9. It makes sense if you think the pool was built for Olympic Trials. In that meet, the finals use 8 lanes. That way the finals can be swum in lanes 1-8. Seems logical. But this meet ran all 10 lanes through out. It just worked out that the mens medley relay I was on would swim in lane 0.
  • I swam in 3 separate heats that included world record swims, and another that included an American record swim. First, I swam in the lane next to Steve West as he broke the world record for M40-44 in the 100 meter breaststroke. The next day I swam in the lane next to David Guthrie as he broke the world record for M50-54 in the 200 meter breaststroke. On Sunday I swam on the mixed medley relay in the 120-159 age group, where Phoenix Swim Club broke the world record. That relay included my friend Jeff Commings, and Olympic Gold Medalist Misty Hyman. And finally, the last event I swam was in the lane next to Steve West again, where he broke the USMS record for M40-44 in the 50 meter breaststroke.
  • I swam on a relay with a married couple. Another first for me. It was that mixed medley relay where I swam on a team that included Troy and Kelly Reynolds.
  • I was reunited with one of my Lincoln Northeast High School team mates, Joe Woodshank. We had not been on the same team in more than 22 years. And we got to swim on 3 relays together. What was even more fun, chance would have it that we swam in the lane next to a relay where the two of us were matched up against two swimmers from Lincoln Southeast High School, Rich Nolte and JB Barr! How cool is that?!
  • I set 3 MOVY Masters records in the M40-44 age group. If I find a yards meet before October 15, I could potentially set records in the M35-39 age group, months after setting records in the M40-44 age group. It would be difficult considering I've already had very good swims in that age group, but it would be fun to say I did that if I could pull it off.
  • I helped MOVY Masters to a 2nd place finish in the Mens Local Team category, and 2nd place finish in Combined Local Team category.
  • And finally, for the important stuff!! My fundraising website is now showing $705 raised. There has already been $500 donated off line, and I know there is more than another $100 on the way. So that means the total is over $1,300, and still growing. It's not too late to help, so please consider contributing, and passing on the word to your friends.
  • My website has received at least two donations from people I have never met heard of. I'm touched by the kindness of strangers. The only problem is I need to figure out how I will thank them.
That is it for now. Thanks for following along, I hope you enjoyed the journey! I do intend to keep blogging. After some time to reflect on my adventure, I'll figure out what my next adventure will be.  Meanwhile, like I said, I'll keep my donation page open for a while. It's not too late!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

And just like that, it's over!

Yesterday the final day of competition came to a close at the 2012 Marriott USMS Summer Nationals. It was an awesome experience for everyone involved, and one that I will never forget.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog. If you have not done so yet, please click on My Donation Page on the right to help rebuild the Autism Center that was completely destroyed by the Joplin tornado last year.

It was going to be a tricky day. I had 2 events fairly early in the day. Then we needed to get everything packed into the car, and figure out what to do to kill time before my final event scheduled to be late in the afternoon. We got everything as ready to go as we could, then headed down to the pool.

Walking into the building, I immediately saw what was one of the highlights of the whole meet for me. My Dad was standing there waiting for me and my family to come in. When my swimming career really began in high school, I lived with just my Dad. We were very close, and he was extremely supportive of my involvement in swimming, and all other activities I had going on in high school. It was really special to see him sitting up in the stands with my wife and two sons, some 25 years after he watched my swimming career begin.

First up was the mixed medley relay. I was excited for this one because my relay team included Troy and Kelly Reylonds. Yes, they are a married couple, and I actually trained with them for about a year. I was great to be on a team with them. I had the breaststroke leg. Kelly was swimming backstroke, and I made certain she was going to make a solid finish before my feet left the block. My start was okay, but my breakout was sloppy. It took about 4 strokes for me to settle into my stroke before I could really dig in and go. I got pretty fatigued before the end, but not too bad, and I touched the wall to send Troy off on butterfly. At first I didn't want to know what my split time was before I swam the individual 50 meter breaststroke in my next event. But, a friend offered to look it up on his phone and I changed my mind. 30.91! I was pretty excited. That was 0.26 seconds faster than my split in the mens relay the night before. It still wasn't as fast as I wanted to be, but was closer to that than I had been all weekend!

I went into the 50 breast with a little higher hopes. I thought that dipping below 31 seconds, and getting 2nd place was a real possibility. I was matched up against a long time rival in Rob Butcher. We have traded breast stroke races in a number of meets. I wasn't having a fast meet, but Rob wasn't exactly 100% either. As Executive Director of USMS, he had many duties to tend to during this meet. Plus, he spent 8 days on his feet at Olympic Trials while running the USMS booth in the AquaZone. Rob had beaten me by slim margins in the 100 and 200 meter breast, so the 50 was my last shot to get a race from Rob. My relay split that morning gave me hope that I might be able get him in just one race. I had a really good swim. It was a good start, and my break out was better. I was digging in and going hard from the first stroke. I did get pretty fatigued with about 10 meters left, but I just kept digging and fought for the finish. I looked at the giant score board above the pool, 31.22. I'll take that! An individual race should be about 0.30 seconds slower than a relay split, so to do practically the same race with very little rest, I was good with. Then I looked at Rob's time. 31.09 He got my by 0.13 seconds. Oh well. Rob is a great guy, and a great athlete. I know I'll get to enjoy racing him many times in the future.

I knew my wife was under the weather. I was going to leave it up to her to decided if I scratch my last event and we head home. She didn't want to make that call, but the second I saw her when I got back to the hotel room, I knew we had to head home. So I missed out on the 200 individual medley. I wanted to swim it, but I'm not upset about missing it because I know I'll be able to do it faster at a future meet anyway. It turned out to be a good call. We made the 3.5 hour drive home and unloaded the car a good 30 minutes before my heat would have gone.

That's it for now. I'll draft another blog soon recapping the meet as a whole, and let you know how the fundraising turned out.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

One Day to go!

Yesterday was my second day of competition in the 2012 USMS Summer Nationals. It was long, exhausting, and unbelievably fun.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog. If you have not done so yet, please click on My Donation Page on the right to help rebuild the Autism Center that was completely destroyed by the Joplin tornado last year.

One thing that worked out well yesterday, although it was a very long day, because of how the event order worked out, I didn't even bother heading to the pool until after noon. It was nice to have a leisurely breakfast with the family, then I just lounged around the hotel room with the boys while Stacy went to get a pedicure. Stacy has been so supportive of me through my training, and especially during this meet, she deserved a little break!

I headed to the pool for a nice long stretch and warm up. Up first was my most dreaded event, the 200 meter breaststroke. The event, by my standards, is very long. And the pain that results from racing breaststroke can be extremely intense. I prepared well, and went behind the blocks to relax a little in between cheering for my team mates that were in the heats ahead of me. And I noticed something weird, there appeared to be a man with a video camera stalking me. I tried to ignore it and focus on my race. I think I executed the race really well. The plan was for the first 100 meters to go long and strong strokes, and make the pull outs as long as possible, then build the 3rd 50, and fight like hell the last 50 meters. That's just what I did. The only change I might have made was to maybe push the first 100 a little harder, but as little as I get to race this event, expecting perfection is a bit unrealistic. So, I was pleased with the race. If you read my blog from yesterday, you can guess I'm not happy with the time or placement, but I have put that behind me.

So you ever watch a big time swim meet and wonder why they always interview the athletes right after their races when they are still really out of breath? I now know what that is like! As soon as I climbed out of the pool, and took a few seconds to get myself vertical again, I was ambushed by that man that was stalking me with a camera, and Laura Hamel of USMS. If you are thinking it must not be easy to give an interview right after a race, you are right! Just another reason to respect those talented athletes that work so hard, because those post race interviews are tough. I tease, but Laura was lovely, and very helpful. USMS had heard that I played a part in the construction of the building the meet was in, and wanted to know what it was like for me to compete in it. You can see the interview here. I'm on the Day 3 video. Watch the whole thing, its a great video! Look for me at about 4:45 into the video. My team mates are all over the video in their blue & yellow tie dies, and yellow and blue MOVY Masters swim caps!!

I was up in the next event, the 50 meter backstroke. This is an event I almost never do, and after racing it, I wonder why I don't do it more often. Of course my start was sloppy, my breakout was ridiculous. But once I was up, it was just sprinting backstroke, and it was pretty fun. The giant scoreboard hanging above the pool is a bit distracting though. I managed a somewhat respectable time, and just missed a 10th place medal by 0.12 seconds. How about that?

I had a bit of a break before having 2 relay races. First was the mixed freestyle relay and my team included two young ladies I had never met before. So that was fun to meet a couple of new people and race with them. My split time was a bit off from what I did the day before, but not too far. The second relay was interesting. It was the mens medley relay. The backstrokers and butterfliers go to the start end of the pool, and the breaststrokers and freestlyers go to the far end. So as the breaststroker, I went to the far end with our freestyler, my team mate from Lincoln Northeast High School. Wouldn't you know, in the lane next to us, swimming next to us was the Nebraska Masters team, which had swimming breaststroke non other than Rich Nolte, a great breaststroker from Lincoln Southeast. And their freestyler was J.B. Barr, also a swimmer from Lincoln Southeast. Now Nebraska Masters may have beaten our MOVY Masters team, but the Rockets combined to out split the Knights by more than a second! Ha!! Once a Rocket, always a Rocket!

Today is the last day of competition. First up is the mixed medley relay, where I'll have a married couple on my team, Troy and Kelly Reynolds. Right after that I'll have my 3rd consecutive 50 meter breaststroke. Then I'll have a wait before I close out the meet with the 200 meter I.M. It's going to be tough to stick around for that one since it will go into late afternoon, and we'll still have a drive back home after it. But I'm glad I signed up for it because MOVY Masters is in 2nd place in both Mens and Combined category. I'm seeded 5th in that event, so I'll be glad for every bit I can help score points. Although I'll be glad to have this meet behind me, I'm sad it is about to end.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

3 down, 7 to go!

My first of 3 days of competition is complete. I have 3 races behind me, and 7 to go. This meet has been an awesome experience, competing in an amazing facility, and meeting even more amazing people.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog. If you have not done so yet, please click on My Donation Page on the right to help rebuild the Autism Center that was completely destroyed by the Joplin tornado last year.

I started my competition weekend off with the 50 meter freestyle. It's an event I don't do very often, so my expectations for this race were pretty limited. If ever you enter a swim meet and have an opportunity to get in a 'warm-up event', you should take it. That was the thought here. It was just an opportunity to see what it was like to compete in the Olympic Trials pool. I didn't know what to make of the time I swam, I really didn't have much of a reference point. The water felt good, stroke felt okay, but I got pretty tired, and for a 50 freestyle, that is a problem. I suspected the illness I had last week may have an effect on this meet, and it was starting to look like my suspicions were true. But I still had hope, because I knew I really wouldn't know until after my next event.

My second event was the 100 meter breaststroke. This is my 2nd best event for the meet, and my expectations were high. I was confident I could get down below 1:08, which would mean I would reach my goal of getting back on the FINA All Time Top 10 list. The race felt good, I feel like I executed it as well as I could. I went out with a fairly quick, but long and controlled stoke on the first 50. The second 50 I built in to a stronger, and quicker stroke, focusing on the legs. It hurt more than usual, which is okay. But the time, 1:11, and 4th place. I was hoping for 1:07 and 2nd place. So, I was really disappointed. I had trained really hard for this meet, and I knew any chance of having any good swim was looking pretty slim. So, I have to put my expectations away, and focus on just having fun at the meet. At least I know there is a reason I'm not up to par. Based on my last taper where I went 1:06.5 in the 100 meter breast in a 25 meter pool, which is equivalent to a low 1:08 in a 50 meter pool. So I know I can do it, it just won't be at this meet. One thing that was exciting, the guy I swam next to set a world record! His name is Steve West, and last week he became the oldest man ever to compete in U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming. It was exciting to swim next to him, even if he did beat me by more than 7 seconds!

My last event for the day was all about fun. The 200 meter freestyle relay. What I was really excited about was being reunited with a highschool team mate, Joe Woodschank. We last swam together at the Nebraska Highschool State Meet in the medley relay where we broke the school record. It was fun, and I proudly wore a Lincoln Northeast swim cap along with Joe in the relay!

The rest of the meet is all about doing my best and having fun, meeting new people, and enjoying the company. I'll have to forget about my expectations, or I could let myself ruin the whole weekend.

My second is the toughest day, starting with my toughest event, the 200 meter breaststroke. It will be long and painful. Then I have a fun event, 50 meter backstroke, something I almost never do. And then I close the day with two relays. Should be fun!!

Thanks for following along, I look forward to reporting what happens on Day 2!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Time is NOW!!

The wait is nearly over. The USMS Summer Nationals starts today. The distance swimmers are in the water warming up right now, getting ready to kick off the meet.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog. If you have not done so yet, please click on My Donation Page on the right to help rebuild the Autism Center that was completely destroyed by the Joplin tornado last year.

The nerves are really building. I do have great confidence that I have trained and prepared for this meet as well as I can. What I'm not confident about is how much I'll be affected by the stomach flu last week. Regardless, I just need to go out there and give it my best shot! If I do that, I will have to be pleased.

If you want to follow along the action, well if you are near Omaha, come on down to the Century Link Center. I think you will find plenty of open seats, no admission charge, and a very cool atmosphere that only a masters swim meet can provide. If you can't make it down, you can follow real time results, or even live streaming video. Here is where you find information on how to do that.

The main page for the meet is There is info and links for everything, including 'real time' results, and live streaming video. The timeline is . That is an estimated time line, the meet can run faster or slower by as much as a couple of hours by the end of the day.

My events and estimate start times are


Event #10 at 12:25

Event #14 at 3:40

Event #16 at 4:55


Event #22 at 1:10

Event #24 at 2:35

Event #27 at 4:20

Event #30 at 5:55


Event #33 at 10:30

Event #36 at 11:25

Event #44 at 4:20

If you are wondering how close the meet is running to the timeline, you can check the streaming video.
One more thing; previously I listed one of my goals, and provided you an opportunity to challenge me to reach them. My goal was make it onto the FINA Masters All Time Top 10 list, and I challenged you to make a pledge to donate if I reach those goals. Right now it pledges stand at $125 for one event on the list, and $50 for each additional event. It's not too late, just send me an email at to let me know if you wish to pledge. I listed times I needed, and warned those times may change. So far the only guy that would be added to the current published list, will also be at my meet. So, I only need to beat the 9th place times on the list in the 50 breast at 30.51, the 100 breast at 1:08.17, and the 200 breast at 2:31.53. If I beat those times, I should end up back on the Top 10 list.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Last weekend, my family and I traveled to Omaha, NE for the US Olympic Trials for Swimming. It was an awesome experience, one that I'm very glad we did, considering that meet may never be this close to our home again.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.

Trials were in Omaha for a second time, having been there in 2008. USA Swimming thought it went so well, they didn't even take bids for 2012. I understand 13 cities are now working on their bids for 2016, so another Trials in Omaha is not looking good. I did make it to one prelims session in 2008. Our children were too young at that time to sit through a long swim meet, so I just had my wife drop me off on the corner so I could take in some of the trials myself. I really wanted to do it because I actually played a role in constructing the arena and convention center the meet was held in, I wanted to see what it looke like with a pool in it. It looked amazing. My seats were impressive as well, and I saw many swimming superstars up close.

Fast forward to 2012: My oldest son Evan is 10, and is in his second year of swim team. My youngest son Quin is 8, and although his Autism does not let him sit still for long periods, we decided to suck it up, and bring him along to make it a family experience. And as some of you know, my wife Stacy and I met on a masters swim team, and is as big a swimming fan as you will find. So, you can imagine for at least 3 of us, the excitement level was pretty high. We bought tickets for Saturday June 30, pretty much because that was the only day that worked in my schedule. I don't think we could have picked a better day.

In prelims, we got to watch my co-worker Tony Diers swim the 50 free. Then we stuck around to watch what was likely a final swim for the career of swimming legend Janet Evans. So glad we did that, a very cool moment.

Then we spent maybe 2 hours in the AquaZone (basically the 'expo' that goes with the meet). It was very cool, with lots of great activities. Evan wanted to do all of them, Quin wanted to do none! Fortunately the people at the BMW exhibit were very friendly, and let kids climb in and all over 3 different $90,000 cars as much as they wanted. So, Quin was happy, and Stacy was able to take Evan arould to most of the exhibits, although the lines for the mechanical shark and the endless pool were just too long.

After a giant lunch with Stacy's Dad and Step Mom at one of my all time favorite restaruants, Lo Sole Mio, we headed back towards the arena with over an hour to kill. So we stopped by a restaraunt/bar called the Old Mattress Factory, and followed non-other than Brendan Hansen into the door. Shortly after arriving, some guys with TYR told us Ricky Berens would be there in 10 minutes. So Evan got an autograph and photo with him. Just an awesome experience, one of those last second decisions we were really glad we made!

So we headed into the arena for finals. If I have to put it into a word, I would have to use epic! Everything about it was incredible. The lights, the sounds, the pyrotechnics, the crowd, the stories and interviews, and of course the racing, it was all amazing. We got to see Ryan Lochte win the 200 back, as well as young phenom Missy Franklin winning the semi-final in her 200 back. We watched another historic race between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 I.M.. The highlight for me was a bit unexpected. For years I've been following a swimmer named Jessica Hardy. She is primarily a breaststoker that has added freestyle to her program. She made the team in 2008, but then was forced to leave the team before going to Beijing because of a possitive drug test. She soon proved the positive test resulted from a tainted suplement. She got her suspension reduced, and got cleared to make a run for the 2012 Olympics. She owns the world record in the 100 breast, and that looked to be her best shot at making the team. But, just 2 nights prior she finished 3rd in that event, just missing making the team. She had a couple of more chances. Most figured she had a chance in the 100 free to finish top 6 to get her on the relay. Then in front of my own eyes, she surprised all swimming fans by finishing 1st! It was an awesome moment, and I'll never forget the look on Jessica's face as we saw it on the big screen!

It was a magical day, but I wouldn't say it went smoothly for us. Autism bit us several times through out the day. There were multiple fits including screaming, and falling to the floor. We took those in stride though. What was much more difficult was the taking off and running. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops, but was still able to catch up with him. But, I can tell you it is no fun when in front of a large crowd to accidentally 'tackle' your young child when trying to grab him. It's okay, I stopped worrying about what other people think a long time ago.

We leave for Omaha again tomorrow, and I'll get to compete in that very same pool. Going to watch Trials was quite an inspiration. I should be ready!

Friday, June 29, 2012


I knew this would be a tough long week. Fate threw me a curve ball, and made it a lot rougher. It was going to be a very busy work week, plus it's the week of the Kansas City Corporate Challenge swim meet, which means 4 nights I drive 25 miles out of my way through the heart of Kansas City up to Gladstone, and spend several hours at a pool. Then monday night I started having an upset stomach, which I just thought was being nervous for my races. I was wrong.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.

The KCCC swim meet is an awesome event. This year, 131 companies participated, and 1,293 people competed! Our Burns & McDonnell team was shooting for our 8th consecutive Division B win, which was exciting.

The KCCC swim meet fell on the calendar roughly a week and a half before the meet I'm training for, the USMS Summer Nationals. So I was going to have 8 races over 4 nights, which is actually not a bad way for me to get ready prepare for my next meet. Then I looked at what I might be able to do in my new 40-44 age group, and realized all of the records appear to be attainable. I thought 2 of them would be easy for me, and the rest I could be really close if I have good swims, especially since I'm already 1-1/2 weeks into my taper, and I'm wearing the full body suits that are banned everywhere but KCCC. I thought that would be a really cool accomplishment to walk away with all the records after this meet. Then my stomach started acting up. I thought it was just nerves, its not uncommon for that to happen to me to some extent. But, I normally am able to recognize that, and calm myself down. I wasn't able to settle my stomach, but I didn't think much of it. I knew what I expected of myself this week was pretty huge, and it might get to me a bit.

I swam my first race, the 200 yard freestyle, and I thought it went really well. With the exception of running into the lane rope with about 10 yards to go, I can't think of any mistakes. I look at the clock for my time, 1:53.99. That's a great time for me, and it’s a gold medal! But, the record was 1:53.60. Bummer! So close! Stupid lane rope!!

Next morning I get ready for work, and start packing my stuff for the meet that night. That's when I knew I was in trouble. I noticed even under the ceiling fan, I was really hot, and sweating, and my stomach was still very upset. I forced half a bowl of cereal for breakfast, but that was all the food I got into me that day. I knew while even sick, that night I would be okay. It was the 50 breaststroke, and the 100 individual medley, my 2 best events for KCCC. Those records would still be easy for me, I just wouldn't be able to go as fast as I wanted. And that is just what happened. My 50 breast was 27.27, which took roughly 3 seconds off the record, and the 100 I.M. was 58.38, over half a second under the record. Now I just hope this is a 24 hour thing, and I can take a good shot at the next 3 records.

Wednesday morning, I got up feeling a little better. I managed to choke down a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast. But as I drove to work I started feeling worse, and that continued as the day went on. Now I not only had an upset stomach, I’m starting to feel week because I haven’t been able to eat. I knew the records were out of reach. My first event was the medley relay*. I knew I would be fine with just 50 yards of breaststroke. I was wrong again. I swam just a hair slower than the night before (relay splits should be faster), and I felt I was about to pass out. When getting out of the pool, I was very happy to see an empty chair. I didn’t even watch my team mates swim, I couldn’t. I stumbled to the warm down pool, and was really worried by a dizzy spell I had when getting out of that pool. Fortunately from that point, until I left the pool, I started feeling better. I had already given up on records, and was just hoping to keep the gold medal streak going. Next I won the 50 backstroke, and actually came about ½ a second from the record. By the time the 50 butterfly came around, I experienced the fatigue from leaving the house at 6 am, and still racing at 10 pm. My time of 26.81 was more than a second slower than last year, and even farther from the record I wanted. And, I nearly lost my grip on the gold medal sweep, but pulled out the win by 0.06 seconds. The race felt tired and weak, and the time showed it. But I had the gold, and felt like I could maybe eat, but that changed before I got home.

Thursday was the last night, finally. 50 freestyle, and Free Relay*. I’m starting to feel better, and was actually able to eat some breakfast, and lunch. My stomach was feeling much better, maybe at 60%, but I still felt pretty weak. My 50 free was 23.51, good enough for my last individual gold, and was actually only about ¼ of a second off the record. So, not too bad. Then after some pleading with my team mates to help me finish the meet with 8 gold medals! They really came through. We came in just 1 second ahead of 2nd & 3rd place teams. And I was very happy to anchor the relay with a 23.41 split.

So, if there is a point to this blog, it’s that anything can happen. You just have to make the best of it. I trained really hard for months. I prepared my body, I was ready to go. A stomach bug crushed my plans, but I still have to be very happy with 8 gold medals. I have to be at least 4 individual swims that were the best I’ve ever done at the KCCC meet, including my best event, the 50 breast. So what does that mean when I race healthy next week? That’s the exciting part!

Sure I could have done better if healthy, and I would have had most, if not all the records. That would have been really cool, but what I did accomplish was pretty cool as well. And, Burns & McDonnell did get our 8th consecutive Division B win!

I’m driving to Omaha tonight, and taking the family to watch the Olympic trials tomorrow.  I’ll be relaxing, and checking out the venue I’ll be competing in next week! I can’t wait!!

*Big thanks to my relay team mates! Medley Relay was Eric Sullins, me, Dana Weir, and Jamie Precht. Free Relay was Joji Calabro, Jenny Macy, Jamie Precht, and me. Without you guys, 8 golds would not have been possible.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Team USA!!

I know it's been a while since I've been here. After a whirl wind business trip last week, I'm back at it. Excitement meter is pretty high right now, with U.S. Olympic Trails for swimming already started this morning, Kansas City Corporate Challenge swim meet starting tonight, and my first race in the USMS Summer Nationals is just 11 days away.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.
I love the Olympic Trials, one of my favorite sporting events to watch. It is the most competitive meet in the world, even more so than the Olympics. The depth of the US swimmers is far more competitve than the Olympics, considering each country can only send 2 swimmers in any given event. Every event has a dozen or more swimmers with hopes and dreams of being one of those top 2 to be able to call themselves an Olympian. And dozens more are there, knowing they don't have a legitamite shot, but just going to try their best on the biggest stage. Anyway you look at it, its a magical event. What I love most about it is you never come away disappointed. Sure, maybe your favorite swimmer might disappoint you. Look at Brendan Hansen in the 2008 Trials in the 200 meter breaststroke. Just a few weeks earlier he was the world record holder. When it came time for Trials, he couldn't even make the team. It was disappointing that Brendan was not at his best, but what makes up for that is the fact that the Trials sort out who is ready, and who will make up the best possible team for USA! So, best of luck to everyone, you do your best so we know the US will have their best in London!

Work has been insanely busy, and is not letting up. Throw in the fact that I'm getting dozens of emails each day to make adjustments to our KCCC swim roster, it has been really hectic. It was tough being away from home a few days last week. Technology helped a lot with that. Being able to video chat with the family makes a huge difference. Just need to figure out why my picture was upside down on my wife's phone.

Quin's battle with Autism has been really challenging lately. I mentioned a few blogs ago that we were having some difficult and unusual behavior problems. We suspected something was off on the medication we started him on. Then it appeared things got better. And the last week or so, things have gotten pretty bad again. I'm starting to think the behaviors he had before the medications I prefer much more over what we are seeing now. The plan now is to hang in there, and give the medication a fair shot until his doctor's visit early next month.

Training; What can I say? It's taper time. I get in the water, warm up, do some fast stuff, practice some technique, and get out.  Pretty simple, pretty easy, pretty fun! Now I'm just trying to get through the part where you don't feel well at all during taper. It will come around soon enough. Tonight, my workout is swimming the 200 free in the KCCC swim meet. I'm looking forward to my new age group.

That's all for now. Follow along the trials at  If that isn't enough excitement for you, check out the KCCC results at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It’s Taper Time

It’s music to a swimmer’s ears. If you are not intimately familiar with any endurance sports, you might not know taper is when you reduce your training in order to rest for a particular competition. It’s part of training that has the obvious benefits of reduced workouts, but also comes with challenges.
First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.
Every athlete is different, and needs to approach their taper strategy differently. Many of my friends that are distance swimmers, triathletes and runners go through their entire taper process in a week. That doesn’t work for me. The benefit of taper is really just beginning for me after a week. I’ve done a two week taper in the past. That has done okay for me, but I think it has been cutting it too close. I’ve noticed that I’m still tapered even after a week or two break after my big meet. I would come back to workouts, and still be swimming crazy fast times. This time around, I’m going for a full 3 week taper.

Now I’ve decided how long my taper is, next I decide how to do it. First, what do I do with my gym workouts? Some continue their weights and running, or whatever they do in the gym, they just reduce weight, sets, reps, or all of the above. I’ve tried that before. I’ve found its best for me to drop my gym workouts all together. Second, what do I do with my pool workouts? My normal ‘in season’ workouts range from about 3,200 to 4,200 meters, and are filled with a wide variety of endurance work, drills, speed work, kicking, pulling, anything under the sun. One theory is to slowly reduce your workouts over a 3 week period, another is to drop down to a certain amount and hold it there until your competition comes. Since I’m going to have the Kansas City Corporate Challenge meet in the middle of my taper, I’m going to drop to around 1,700 meters per day up until KCCC, and drop down to 1,000 meters or less after it. My swimming workouts will consist of warm up, some drills, some sprints, and warm down.

So, how is it that can be challenging? There are a few reasons. Time to relax can be hard to find. It wasn’t a big deal before I had a family. Before family life, I could come home, sit on the couch and enjoy some TV. The only responsibility I had was feeding myself. That is not the case now. There is always work to do when I get home. Chores, picking up, cleaning, cooking, getting kids to bed, etc. Having a child with special needs makes it even tougher. Autism has a way of making things way more difficult than they need to be. And at taper time, all I want to do sit down. That’s not happening for this dad. The second thing that is challenging is it really tests your faith. No, I’m not saying it’s a strain on my religion. Taper gives the mind too much time and energy to wander, and to question. You begin to question your training, or if your taper will even work. And if you feel there is something you left out of your training, its too late to make it up. You have to trust you have trained as well as you could. You have to trust your taper will work. You have to have faith.

So, does taper really work? You might think that taking it easy for 3 weeks would have to reduce my fitness significantly. Believe me, where I talked about trusting my taper, I have those doubts too. History has proven time and time again, my fitness will still be there 3 weeks, and even 4 or 5 weeks later. And as fatigue leaves my body, my strength improves dramatically. How much can it really help? Many people will drop 2 seconds per 100 yards/meters when they taper. Some will drop more. I am in the more category. Way, way more! I usually drop between 4 and 6 seconds per 100 when I taper. And for some reason, for 50 meter course, it is usually in the 6 range. If that sounds like a dramatic difference, it is! In season can be really tough. It makes the big meets a lot of fun.

Training has been fun lately. I had my last full workout last Thursday. Since then, I just get in the water, and do what ever my body tells me I need. The minimum requirement is a good warm up, and getting something with some really good speed. I make sure I stop before fatigue sets in, get a nice warm down, and get out. Getting some speed every time is critical. It keeps everything sharp, and helps keep up confidence going into the big meet.
Thats it for now. My next challenge will be trying to keep some business travel from being too disruptive, in the pool and at home.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The clock is ticking, and excitement is building. As a swimming fan, U.S. Olympic Trials is approaching fast. Directly after that will be the meet I've been training for Marriott USMS Summer Nationals. But, I have some business to take care of first. That's the swim meet in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.

Okay, my last blog was a bit of a downer. When you live with Autism, you get constant reminders that it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. But this post is about something much more fun. The Kansas City Corporate Challenge is kind of a coporate olympics. A wide range of events that spans over two months every summer. The event is not unique to Kansas City, but it is the oldest, and by far the biggest in the nation. After more than 30 years, it has grown to over 160 companies are involved with well over 10,000 participants. The swim meet usually has roughly 1,100 swimmers, and fills every bit of 4 evenings . It's a pretty big deal. And KCCC was started to promote health & fitness, so it's a pretty cool deal, too.

I work for Burns & McDonnell, and engineering and construction firm headquartered here in Kansas City. We take the KCCC very seriously. We have won the overall trophy for Division B (divisions are based on company size) for 8 consecutive years, and we have won the swim meet for Division B for 7 consecutive years. And this year, we are the presenting sponsor. I am one of four swim coaches, with Joe Pacey, Jamie Precht, and Hilary Fellows. Four coaches may sound excessive, but there are a ton of duties shared amongst us, including running practices/tryouts, recruiting and coordinating a team for the meet. Of course we are expected to maintain our normal workload all the while. The swim meet is just 11 days away now. The last week or so, the other coaches and I have been working feverishly to recruit swimmers. We learned years ago the participation is the way to win this meet. We could try to maximize our points, and only use our best swimmers in every event. But, that would mean much fewer people get to experience the meet.

Every year we have several people that have not competed in a swim meet for many years, and some never have. They always have an amazing time. We hear it every year, "That was fun! I'm going to practice so I can do better next year!" Well, as you can imagine, most do not follow through on that promise. But, some do. And they accidentally become a more fit and healthy person in the process. And that is what is exciting about KCCC. Sure, the competition is fun, seeing and racing against old friends, maybe chasing after a record or two. When you see someone come back for their second year, and see them drop massive amounts of time from the previous year, that is real fun! We don't see it often, but we do see it, and it is really awesome when we do! Because we know the KCCC swim meet has improved their lives.

Thanks to the efforts of all of our swim coaches and the courage of many, right now our roster stands at 61 swimmers! Now that will be tough to hold. There is always last minute travel plans, illnesses or injuries that get in the way. But, it's looking line a pretty sure bet it will be the most swimmers any company has ever brought to the KCCC swim meet. That means we have the best chance of somebody coming back next year, having accidentally become a more healthy and fit person than they would have been without KCCC.

Now here is sometihng fun. Go to the KCCC website. You notice it has a slide show. Look for 4 people showing their muscles. Yep, that's my freestyle relay team, and that's me on the right! Now, wait for it to cycle through until you see that picture again, and look at the picture to the right of it. Yep, that's me running the mile! How cool is that?!

Training has been going well, but time to improve before my meet is getting short.

Tuesday I did another workout from Jeff Commings' Blog. I did his workout from Tuesday June 5. I was a bit sluggish and tired, but managed to squeeze out a pretty quick 50 at the end.

Wednesday was my last gym workout, so I set out to make it a good one. I went to my Workout Trainer App, and picked 3 of the hardest workouts I could find. I did Muscle Memory, Fat Burner Deluxe, and 5 Min Arms & Abs. The goal was to test my toughness, I knew these workouts would do that.

This morning, I went to the website for a workout. I've mentioned here before, this is an awesome site for swimming info, no matter what level of swimmer you are. On the right, under Practices, click on Gold, and then Main Set Tuesday - Fast. I just added a warmup and short kick set before it, and a warm down at the end, and I had a full workout. I struggled this morning, and I knew I would after yesterdays workout. I expect more out of tomorrow, my first workout of my taper!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Roller Coaster Ride

The Rezek house has been a roller coaster lately. In my last post, we were feeling as positive as could be. As far as Quin is concerned, there has been little positive lately. Although he is continuing to improve on the bicycle, and he is consistently taking his medication with little or no resistance. But, it seems day after day he is finding new ways to get into trouble.

First, if you haven't been here before, I'm a father of a child with Autism and I'm competing in the 2012 US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals, and raising money for the Ozark Center For Autism. Go here for my intro blog.

I try to always be a positive person, and give uplifting reports on my blog. But, living with Autism is not always positive. To say it is a roller coaster ride would be much more accurate. I won't trouble you with too much of the detail, but I will say his getting into trouble has been persistent, yet unpredictable. Tonight was highlighted by leaving the dinner table early, sneaking a water cup away to spill on the couch, then stripping down before running upstairs to stand up on his bed and pee on his bed and the wall. To several families dealing with Autism, this is not surprising at all. But, we have grown comfortable to little to no bathroom issues for more than a couple of years now. So this behavior was quite a shock to us.

We're not sure what has caused such a change in Quin's behavior. He has been through several changes that could be clues. His regular school year has ended, and he is attending summer school, his Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist has gone on maternity leave, and he began his medication. With so many variables, it's hard to figure out the problem. But, we will figure it out.

Our older son Evan has helped offer us some bright spots the last few days. Thursday night he had his first meet of the summer. Because he has had about 8 months of swimming since his last meet in a meters pool, it was fun to see how far he had come along in that time. Then Saturday we left the house about 6 am to head to Lawrence, KS so he could participate in the IronKids Triathlon. It was a hot sticky morning, a fairly tough course for kids, and he had to struggle with a much heavier and clunkier bike than his competitors. But, he did well and really enjoyed it. We'll find a better bike for him to ride next time, one with gears, and brakes that don't stick! Of course I think the highlight for him was the family of the friend he did the triathlon with took him straight from the triathlon to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. They brought him home just after 1 am, so Evan had been gone for roughly 19 hours. He wasn't worth much on Sunday.


I'm glad I take my weekends off. I get more time with my family. And I think my body really needs the recovery. Before the weekend, I was looking for a swim workout for Friday morning. I follow a swim coach on Twitter by the name of Dave Salo. He works with some of the greatest athletes in the world, and has several international swimmers. At any given time, but often during Olympic years, several of his swimmers travel abroad to fulfill their commitments to their home nations. One solution to keep these swimmers in training while gone, he has turned to posting workouts on Twitter. @SprintSalo For Friday, I intercepted one of these workouts. I did make one small adjustment, I added 5 seconds per 50 meters to the intervals. I felt it was workout I was certainly capable of, but I wanted to do the workout well, and not just make it. It turned out to be just what I needed. Lots of short fast swims!

Total Mtrs
25;3rd Gear,25; 5th
Dcnd 1-3
Dcnd 1-3
Cool down

This morning, I went back to my Workout Trainer App. I did Ring The Bell! and AA: fABulously ARMed. I wanted a good one, because I only have one more of these workouts left before taper, which starts Thursday. And I'm very excited about that!!