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.