Monday, September 1, 2014

A New "Watering Hole"

A year or so ago, when I first learned that ASU Polytechnic was planning on adding a pool to their student fitness center, I made sure to tell our head coach, Simon, to consider making use of that facility for those of us who swim with Swim Devil Masters and live in the Southeast part of the valley. Well, to my delight, this past week,  my club started offering workouts at this new pool.
Whenever I swim at a new pool, I like to take a picture to show others. It's so much easier to show someone a photo, than it is to try to describe exactly what a pool is like.
The new pool @ ASU Polytechnic, which is about 2 miles from my home. 
Yay!! I finally have a place to swim with my club that isn't over 20 miles away! Since today is Labor Day, I was able to participate in the noon swim workout at ASU Poly. At first it appeared that I would be swimming "solo", but one of my lane mates from my usual noon swim workout joined me. We were both treated to an excellent workout from our latest coach, Matt Rankin. Matt is a very well-known coach in the swimming community and recently joined the Swim Devil ranks. I'm a happy camper!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Never say "Never"

Watching Michael Phelps win 8 Gold medals in the 2008 Summer Olympics was the spark that got me back into swimming. Sure, I'm no Michael Phelps, but watching his meteoric rise to becoming the greatest Olympian, if not the greatest swimmer of all time, has inspired me to do and to achieve things I never thought were possible at my age. When he retired after the 2012 Olympics, he vowed to never race again. We were all hoping he would change his mind, but after a year and a half, it appeared he truly meant it when he said "never".
After months of rumors and after 18 months of playing golf and hanging with his friends, he decided to throw his hat back in the ring and I couldn't be happier. I attended his first meet, the Mesa Grand Prix, in April of this year. For someone who hadn't been training that much, it was nothing short of incredible.
And now, just 4 months after his "comeback" meet, Michael won his first gold medal in international competition at the 2014 Pan Pacs in Australia. Truly amazing and inspiring. 
When I swam in the early 70s, you were considered "old" by the time you were out of college. Michael turns 30 in a few months, and I can't wait to see what he pulls off in Rio in 2016!
Michael Phelps of the U.S. holds up his men's 100m butterfly gold medal at the Pan Pacific swimming championships in Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. RICK RYCROFT — AP Photo

Read more here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

California, comin' home...

Whenever I head back home to California, I always listen to "California" by Joni Mitchell, and "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin. There is always a bit of "ache" in my heart when I return. This time I returned to the Bay area, which I consider my second birth place. Even though I was born and raised in Long Beach, the "Silicon Valley" holds a very special place in my heart.
The reason for my visit was to compete  in the 2014 United States Masters Spring Nationals swim meet. It's funny that I lived within walking distance of the George Haines International Swim Center, but I never swam there. Well, happily, that has now changed. The GHISC has been home to a host of famous swimmers, among them, Mark Spitz. During the course of the Masters meet, we were graced with fast swimming by several past and present Olympic swimmers such as: Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, Darian Townsend, Josh Davis, Matt Biondi, Misty Hyman, and the list goes on.
But, I am getting ahead of myself. Since I decided to drive to the swim meet from Arizona, my first order of business was to take a little stroll down memory lane. After all, I spent 20 wonderful years in the Bay area and my two girls were raised there. No car trip to the Bay area is complete without a stop at Casa de Fruta.
An old farm truck now being used to display Casa de Fruta's wares

One of the many gorgeous peacocks that stroll the grounds
The view from from the back entrance of the main produce store
My girls loved riding through this tunnel when they were small
View from the pond
One of the peacocks perched in a nice sunny spot
After Casa de Fruta, I drove through Morgan Hill and San Jose before reaching my final destination of Santa Clara. I stopped off at the pool to sign in and pick up my swimmer's packet.
Swimmers loosening up for Friday's races
Later that day, I met up with some of my teammates for a loosen up swim. As expected, Taylor did not disappoint with his custom "Nats" suit, which was made complete with some "flashy pants" for some extra drag.
Taylor and his 2014 Spring Nats attire
Later that evening, several of us headed out to Faultline Brewing in Sunnyvale, just a short drive from Santa Clara.
Jonelle, Kate, Emily, Katie, Dave, Marc, Aung Sann, and Taylor
(this fine group represents about one-third of the Arizona team participating in Spring Nationals)
My first events took place on Friday. I swam the 50 Freestyle, the 100 Breaststroke, and participated in the 55+ Women's 200 Medley Relay in which my team took 5th place.
Another "Shiny" to add to my growing collection
On Saturday, I didn't have any planned events to swim, so I headed up to the Santa Cruz mountains for some hiking and exploring. I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on this beautiful area back in 1980. Fortunately, some things don't change.
The trail beckons.
This trail head is located right off Highway 9, just a short distance from the "Gap" (intersection of HWY 9 and HWY 35).
Can you believe it, this place is less than 20 miles from Santa Clara.
If you click the photo for the full size view, the Monterey Bay and peninsula are visible in the distance.
Say "Hello" to my little friend, the Banana Slug. Well, not so little. This guy was at least 8 inches long!
If you didn't already know, the Banana Slug is the official mascot of the University of California Santa Cruz.
I found some very large Owl pellets.
You can see the bone and hair from whatever it was this particular owl had caught and digested.
Wild Azaleas in Big Basin State Park
A nice solution to a fallen Redwood along the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail in Big Basin State Park
I got lucky. Not only were the wild Azaleas in bloom, so were the wild Fernald's Irises.
After my mountain adventure, I headed back down to the pool to cheer on my team. While walking from our team tent back to the stands, I noticed someone I have heard and read about for years. It was none other than Robert "Bob" Beach. Bob was one of the first Masters swimmers when the organization was founded in 1970 and his life story is quite unique. He was raised by a single mother in 30s Hollywood and they basically lived and slept in their car. Needless to say, at the age of 83, he is still traveling to USMS meets in his car, and yes, he actually sleeps in it. I spent a good 20 minutes having the greatest conversation with him. He is a true gem.
The legendary Bob Beach and his West coast car
After the meet, we headed to San Pedro Square Market in San Jose for some wining and dining. If you're ever in San Jose, you have got to pay a visit to the "Square" -- it will not disappoint.
Dave, the Breaststroker on the left, and Kate, the Freestyler/Backstroker on the right in San Pedro Square
I spied this beauty parked nearby in the Square.
As mentioned by the wall plaque, we were just feet from the old Peralta Adobe.
I was scheduled to swim one last event on Sunday, the 50 Breaststroke, but I decided to blow it off and head down to southern California to see my family. I'm so glad I did. I spent some time with my mother and sister and the following day, I drove to Vista to see my cousins before heading back home to Arizona.
Another successful USMS Nationals meet is safely under my belt.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I came, I swam, I conquered!

When I first heard about the Inaugural Matt Biondi Classic swim meet, I knew I had to go! The event was held on March 23, in Simi Valley, California on a beautiful Spring day.
The Rancho Conjeo Community Pool - site of the Inaugural Matt Biondi Classic - courtesy of TakeItLive
I was lucky enough to convince my coach to make the trip with me, and shortly thereafter, we learned that our teammate and AZ LMSC Chairman, Terry, was also making the trip with his family. Terry was Matt's roommate at Cal back in the day, so I knew there was a good chance that I might be lucky enough to meet this decorated Olympian, but to my surprise, I had the privilege of having dinner with him! After the meet, Matt and his significant other Amy, my coach Katy, and Terry and his beautiful family (and lucky ole me), had a delightful seafood dinner nearby.
Lisa, Terry, Matt, and Amy
 Of course, I had to indulge in the local brew, 805, which is named after the area code of Ventura County.
Instead of staying near the pool, Katy and I opted to stay near the beach in Ventura. What a great idea that was. After arriving on Saturday, we headed downtown for some food and found a really nice bistro-style Italian restaurant. Afterward we strolled around town and then down to the beach.
Ready for lunch!
Me and Katy -- Happy to be at the beach!!
View of the Ventura Pier and some seashore flora
The Beautiful Ventura City Hall
View from City Hall
The swim meet proved to be nothing short of awesome! Since it was the inaugural meet, everyone who placed 1st was guaranteed a pool record. Since we had one more Arizona swimmer, John, who made the trip besides me, Katy, and Terry, we were able to swim the mixed freestyle relay and, you guessed it, we placed first!
Number One in the 35+ 200 Mixed Freestyle Relay!
John, Terry, Me, and Katy
Our First Place relay "ribbons" -- bag tags with a picture of Matt Biondi. Nice!!
I ended up swimming a personal best in the 50 Freestyle and placed 3rd in my age group. In my other events, I swam close to my PBs from 2011. For a swimmer, that's exciting to say the least!
I had this custom t-shirt made at the meet. A pretty cool memento!
So, suffice it to say, I think the Matt Biondi Classic is going to be on my calendar every Spring for years to come.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keep Calm and Swim On - 2013 Ron Johnson Invitational

I know this phrase has been beaten to death, but I really like our "Ron Jon" shirts this year. They're kind of fitting, considering our head coach, Jonny Tunstall, is a Brit originally from Liverpool. He's a US citizen now, but I don't think he'll ever lose that accent. So, in your best British accent say the words: Keep Calm and Swim On!
Without fail, Arizona experiences some of the best weather around beginning mid-September; however, once we're closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, things invariably get a bit chilly. And, without fail, the annual Ron Johnson Invitational swim meet, put on my swim club, takes place during that time. For the past three years, it's been a bit chilly on the day of the event and yesterday was no exception. Rainy and 55 degrees -- Brrrr!
Trying to warm-up before my races was near impossible, but thank goodness for furry boots and swim parkas!!
The ever smiling Shirley Chow

Yeah, it's chilly, but look how beautiful it is!!
This is a webcam photo taken from Mesa, AZ pointing towards 
the Superstition Mountains. Gorgeous!!!

The cold and rainy weather didn't dampen the spirits of over 200 swimmers who came out for some some fun and fast swimming. Our new Masters champion, Darian Townsend was back for his second Masters meet and brought several of his former University of Arizona teammates with him. I wasn't able to watch many of Darian's races this time around, but I caught the last heat of the 200 Freestyle, which proved to be pretty amazing. One of Darian's former UofA teammates, Tyler DeBerry, swam a blistering time with our own LMSC President, Terry "Jaws" DeBiase (a former Cal Berkeley swimmer close to 50) on his heels. Another well-known Masters swimmer, Kurt Dickson was right there with them throughout the entire race.
In the top photo, from the left, Jaws is in Lane 3, with Tyler DeBerry just to his right in Lane 4.
Look where Tyler is after the first turn -- yeah, he's fast!

Here's a link to the Swimming World article, which provides additional insight into the amazing swims at our meet:

Besides, the fast swimming, there is the social aspect of a Masters meet that helps to offset the less than ideal weather.
Aung Sann Oo and Katy  Hodson (a.k.a. K-funk) in between races (sitting to Katy's left is her brother Greg (a.k.a. G-funk) Our coach is very fond of giving us fun nicknames.

Doug Foster (a former Navy Seal) in his "tactical" weather gear

Well, another Ron Jon is under my belt (my third), so it's time to continue keeping calm and swimming on until the next meet. Cheers!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

First Top Ten Swim! Another USMS Milestone!

While checking my swim information on today (I was curious as to whether the info from the October Flagstaff meet had been posted), I was delighted to learn that my 3rd place Summer Nationals relay swim counts as a Top Ten swim -- my first! The results are still Preliminary, but I'm sure they'll stick and I'll be ordering my first ever Top Ten patch. Woot! I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to swim with such fast ladies!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy 4th Swim Anniversary!!

November 7th marked my fourth anniversary with United States Masters Swimming! 
4th Swim Anniversary Collage
Top (l-to-r): Members of my swim club, Sun Devil Masters, helping me show off my Third-place relay medal at Summer Nationals -- Me showing off one of my old "bar" tricks (balancing a salt shaker) -- My swim board. I've added so much stuff to it in four years I think I'm going to have to start another one.
Middle (l-to-r): Someone snapped a picture of me warming up in the rain during a noon workout. My club parka -- Me with my coveted medal
Bottom (l-to-r): My best swim friend Elaine and Me at Summer Nationals -- My kickass swim team at Summer Nationals (we won 1st place Regional Team -- 1st place Men's and 1st place Women's)

Since my swim year starts in November, the first "official" meet for me is the Ron Johnson Invitational, held at my home pool. This particular year I swam in a lot of relays and had a ton of fun.
Me and my mixed relay team at the 2012 Ron Jon

The next highlight was attending the Swim Diva Holiday Party. I ended up with a "gift" of 50+ Olympic Trial swim caps. I have too many already!!! LOL!
Know anyone who needs a cap?

The next meet was the January Polar Bear held at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I swam my fastest 50 ever!!!.
Wendy from the Phoenix Swim Club (left) and Helen ("of Troy") from Tucson Ford Masters.
Two wonderful Masters Swimming ambassadors.

I missed out on a couple of meets due to a weird hip injury, but I didn't let that stop me from having fun as a volunteer at the Mesa Grand Prix in April.
Clark Burckle (back toward camera), Matt Grevers (to Clark's right), and 
Mike Alexandrov (making a point). Lots of Olympic representation at the Mesa Grand Prix

In late April, I made a huge change to my swimming schedule, and switched from swimming workouts at 6 PM to the noon hour. This was my first summer swimming through the day-time Arizona heat. But you know what? I think it really helped me be better acclimated to our searing summer temperatures. The first few weeks when the temps were well above 100, I could really feel the fatigue, but as the weeks went on, it no longer mattered even when it topped out at 119 on the 29th of June. It just felt good to be in the water. Plus, I'm sporting a really bitchin' tan!! (And, yes, I do wear sunscreen.)
My noon "watering hole" -- McClintock High School -- Tempe, AZ

The next big event on my calendar was Summer Nationals in Mission Viejo, which I posted about earlier in August.
Here's a video of me swimming the 50 meter Breaststroke at Summer Nationals
(I'm in lane 6 near the top of the video wearing a white cap)

My next swim meet took place at high altitude in Flagstaff mid-October. Talk about a strange experience. This was my first time swimming above 7000 feet and my body did not like it. I'll swim this meet next year, but I've already told myself "Nothing over a 50!!" One of the highlights of this trip was watching a "daddy/daughter" kick grudge match (of course, the daughter won).
Several members of my swim team cheering on the kickers in the grudge match

On November 3rd, I swam at the Mesa Aquatics Fall Classic meet. In this particular meet, I didn't swim very fast, but someone else sure did. None other than Olympic swimmer Darian Townsend. He set 5 USMS World Records at this meet within a 2 hour time frame. I can't think of a better way to end my fourth year of swimming, and what a perfect beginning to my fifth!
Darian Townsend  (photo by Mike Lewis -- Ola Vista Photography via SwimSwam)