Don’t dive in the pool, and other lessons learned…

So last week was the culmination of the varsity swimming season at the Ontario Championships (OUAs) held in Ottawa this year (apart from those who qualified for the Canadian Championships). I had been looking forward to this for a while as I feel that my swimming has really improved over the last few months and was ready to set some great PBs. Unfortunately it didn’t quite pan out as I had hoped.
In an honest assessment of when things took a down turn I think it is traced back to December, when I went a little gung-ho on the training. Exam time for most people might be time to relax, perhaps even study, but I have always seen it as an excellent opportunity to get in more training, so did exactly that. At the time it seemed like a fantastic idea, and in principle it was, but I went a little overboard and did more than I was ready to handle, leaving me quite fatigued towards the middle/end of December. I took a few days easier, but not easy enough, and then went to swim training camp, where I thought that keeping up the cycling, adding in some running, along with the extra swimming would be a great idea.

Although I was able to handle it, (ie. i’m still alive) I was definitely very fatigued by the start of January and as a result my immune system was not functioning as well as it should. Add in thousands of other students on campus who were sick with something or other and I also fell victim to the colds going around. A week of clogged sinuses was followed by a week and a half of non-stop coughing up phlegm and general tiredness. A week out from OUAs I started to get better, but even by the time we were leaving for the meet I was still not feeling great and was extremely tired. I told myself that I would be okay as adrenaline would kick in at the meet and I would be fine, but I think I was just too tired for it to really make a difference in the end.
I started off the meet spectacularly by being the first person to be DQ’d, right at the beginning of warm up. I was nervous and did what seemed to be a perfectly normal thing and dove into the water, anxious to get swimming and calm the nerves. What did not occur to me at the time was the fact that diving in during warm-up is technically against the rules, although a rule that is rarely enforced. However, the officials at the meet were enforcing all the rules and I was called out of my lane after 50m of warm-up.  A few choice words were muttered and I gave a short rant to the official (something about swimming 16 hours a week, no-one was near me in the lane, no signs were up saying no diving [which is also one of their rules, but one they chose not to follow], etc) but he had absolutely zero sympathy and gleefully took my name down telling me I was now disqualified from my first event (400 free).

My coach did his best to get this reversed, but to no avail. Fortunately there was a time trial at the end of the morning session for anyone who wanted to swim an event (basically a few heats with everyone doing something different within the heat), so I was slotted in to that so that I could still do the race. Getting calmed down and then amped up again 2.5hours later is a challenge, but I did my best and tied my PB (4:53) with no one to race against. I’m not going to complain about the situation (I did break the rules after all), although I do believe that I am capable of swimming at least six seconds faster than that.

The rest of the weekend (the meet lasts 3 days) did not provide any earth-shattering results- I had small PB’s in the 100 and 200 and a very disappointing 800. I don’t think I could have done anything differently at the meet or during my races, I gave everything I had but was exhausted. To be properly ready for the meet would have required different/smarter decisions back in December and throughout January so that I could have a chance of feeling fresher. Not getting sick would have been a good idea too. So overall, it was a disappointing end to the swim season, although I definitely have learned a few lessons along the way, and look forward to continuing to improve my swimming abilities. 

The bright side of things is that taking 4 days off biking and 5 days off running seemed to do the trick and I am back to my usual self- a very good thing since I am down in Arizona for reading week to train outside in the glorious sunshine (details to be in a later blog post)

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