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 http://www.usms.org/comp/lcnats12/ There is info and links for everything, including 'real time' results, and live streaming video. The timeline is http://www.usms.org/comp/lcnats12/timeline.pdf . 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 tonyrezek@train4autism.org 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!