OT: Thoughts about swimming this Fall.

2007 Master's Nationals. Austin, Texas.

On the first of October the pool I've been swimming Master's workouts in for the last twenty years will be closing for much needed repair and renovation. The expectation is that the pool will be out of commission until the end of January (at the earliest). This means that everyone on our swim team will need to figure out a new, temporary home at which to swim. Not working out at least five days a week is not an option for the majority of us. 

As the closure date approaches I'm busy researching options. The obvious one is my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, Jamail Swim Center. My friend, Whitney Hedgepeth (Olympian: Backstroke: Two silver medals; one gold) coaches an extremely competitive Masters workout in the big pool there. It's a tough program with tons of no nonsense yardage and tight intervals. There are two drawbacks to swimming at the Longhorn's pool; the first is that it's indoors and I'm used to swimming under blue sky. The second problem is that workouts start at 6 a.m. An additional annoyance would be trying to find parking on a busy campus with nearly 50,000 students plus faculty and staff...

My next choice is the Austin Swim Club run by Brendan Hanson (Six time Olympic medalist who set world records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke). The pool is outdoors and 50 meters, long course. It's about equidistant from my house/studio and there's no indication that parking is ever problematic. Brendan has a reputation as being a demanding coach with tough workouts. Some of the swimmers from our program are negotiating to get a new workout time from this club at 7:30 am. That means my trip there would be against the commuter traffic and by 9 am,  the end of workout, the worst of the rush hour  traffic heading back would be over. 

The final choice would be to swim each day at the spring fed, 1/8th mile long natural pool, Barton Springs Pool. There would be no Masters program to swim with, no pace clock and no lane lines. I would  have to be very disciplined to hit the 68 degree water before first light each morning and push myself to get a really substantial workout done. Barton Springs pool is closed on Thursdays and, when the weather is bad. You have to get there before 7 am if you want a clear path to swim down because the pool starts to get moderately crowded as the light comes up. Not as big an issue in the dead of winter when the temperatures drop....

I'm leaning toward option two. We'll see as we get closer. Might not seem like a big deal to most readers but it's a huge shift for me. I've spent six or seven hours a week, over the last twenty years, swimming up and down the same two lanes, looking at the same black line at the bottom of the pool. I think I could blindfold myself and still hit my turns from muscle memory. Like most people I fear change. 

Not a good time to also think about changing camera systems..... too much change would be overwhelming.


David Maxwell said...

I hope you are able to find a satisfactory solution. I just went through a similar situation while looking for a place to do my Insanity workout. There were a couple of parks that I considered, but I would be SOL should it be raining. In the end my wife and I decided to join the YMCA, a move made easier by her company paying for half of the membership. Now I just go to a quiet corner of the basketball court or one of the workout rooms if there isn't a class going on to do my workout. I finished up Insanity last Saturday, and am taking this week off before starting Insanity Max 30 next week. I meant to comment on your recent post about being healthy. I am about three months into major life changes designed to shed pounds and get fit in order to improve the quality of my life. For me Insanity has been great, but I am looking forward to Max 30 because it is supposedly easier on the joints. I also want to supplement with some biking and hiking. Summer in Nashville is nice because you can pretty much have the trails to yourself during the heat of the day.

One thing I am curious about - do you follow competitive swimming much? You never seem to talk about the Olympics/World Championships here and I was wondering if it's because you don't care or you just think your readers won't care.

Phil Stiles said...

Can you bicycle to these swimming places?
Do you have to pick one, or can you mix and match as weather or mood suggests?
I completely appreciate your concerns with staying in an exercise groove.
But anything works, as long as you keep it regular and aerobic.
All the best,
Phil Stiles

Kirk Tuck said...

HI Phil, Like most Masters Groups both bill by the month. The average cost is $125 per month. If I wanted the ability to mix and match I'd need to pay dues at both and I'm not so wealthy that I feel I can afford a 100 % surcharge to have choices. The pool I'm in right now is a ten minute bike ride from the house but the two potential candidates are both at least an hour by bike and don't have good pathways for biking. I do agree with you that the secret is just doing aerobic exercise on a regular basis and I do still run the lake trails but I love the camaraderie of swimming and I've gotten good enough at it so there is a certain sense of satisfaction in the execution.

typingtalker said...

Kirk wrote, "The second problem is that workouts start at 6 a.m. An additional annoyance would be trying to find parking on a busy campus with nearly 50,000 students plus faculty and staff ... "

How many of the nearly 50,000 arrive before 6 a.m.?

My transition problem was from running (knees) to bicycling. Turned out the problem was all in my head.