Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cold Water Acclimitazation...Mediterranean Style

Every open water season has to begin with a plunge into somewhat cold water.  For me, most of the time that plunge is in Boston Harbor or Walden Pond. This year I fortunate enough that this virgin swim was the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona!

Shannon and I were in Barcelona for a clients incentive trip for the week. Knowing that there would be some free time I packed my speedo, cap, goggles and orange floatie buoy. 

We checked into Hotel Arts right along the beach and went for some sightseeing and a lunch of tapas and sangria. After brief siesta I decided it was time to take the plunge! 

It was sunny and around 63 degrees outside, the water was a pale blue...and a wee bit chilly. I stripped off my clothes slowly and stuffed them along with my shoes into my floatie that also serves as a dry bag. I blew the floatie up strapped it around my waist and slowly made my way the waters edge. I'm sure during the summer the sea temp is quite refreshing but today it was very, very refreshing 58 degrees. My stroke count suggested that I swam just over 800m and was in the water for about 20 minutes. It was a tad tough getting in but once I got going I felt great.

Over the course of our stay I got in four sessions and was in cool water for a total of 2.5+ hours.  I saw a few other swimmers out there but all of them were wearing wetsuits.  This week was a big mental boost to get my cool water confidence back under my speedo.

One of the highlights of these open water swims were the looks I would get from people as I would walk to the waters edge take off my clothes, stuff them in my floatie and swim away and then swim back put my clothes back on and saunter back down the beach.

The open water season has begun-at least in Barcelona. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#89 & #90 Piscinas Con Vista...

Pools with a view

Wow-what a productive day for hitting two new pools with great views. I had no idea!

The first stop was Club Natacio Atletic de Barceloneta It was short walk down Barceloneta Platja from Hotel Arts. I researched this municipal fitness and aquatic facility before I left home. Little did I know I would spy it the first day on a cable car high above the city. 

It was 13€ drop in fee for the entire day. I could have stayed all day(really)-I didn't!

The complex has four pools. Two lap pools and a wading pool outdoors along with a indoor pool. There is a fitness center with an outdoor free weight area and at least four paddle tennis courts.  I changed and made my way to the outdoor pools. The upper pool was a bit crowded so I made my way to the lower pool where I had a lane to myself. I swam for 3000m at a moderate  pace. Fortunately, there was no pace clock to hold me accountable to swimming fast. When I got out of the water and walked upstairs towards the locker room is when I fully appreciated the pool, the weather and beautiful setting along the beach. I walked into the locker room and realized my work wasn't done. So I turned around and went back to the pool deck. I needed to swim in all three lap pools! It was a short 100m swim in the  upper pool and then I squeezed into a lane with some people for another 100m in the indoor pool. Mission accomplished!

Club Natacio Atletic de Barceloneta now falls in place with my all time favorite pools; the Coral Casino in Santa Barbara, California and Heybeliada Sports Club in the Princes' Islands off the coast of Turkey. All three complexes  have outdoor pools, spacious sunbathing decks and athletic facilities all with easy access to the beach if you want to go between the salt water and chlorinated pool water. 

I will definitely come back there in the future.

It was a quick change in the locker room as I was to meet Shannon in front of the Palu de Mar. We were off for a visit to the Picasso Museum, shopping in the Born district and then lunch with tapas and cava sangria. 

Sightseeing, shopping and lunch was exhausting so it was siesta time back at Hotel Arts. To refresh myself post siesta it was time for another swim. The resort style pool had been closed all week for repairs but was re-opening at 6:00pm.  I donned my board shorts as I don't wear a speedo with the possibility of seeing clients and made my way to the pool.

The pool sits at the base of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry's huge iconic "Fish" sculpture. The pool water was quite cool maybe colder than the ocean as it was just filled up that day and wasn't heated. Slowly I eased into the water and swam a length. By my stroke count is was at least 25m long so it was a relaxed 1000m swim. It was a bit of a rush to change and get ready for dinner but certainly worth it. 

Great day in Barcelona! Looking forward to finding more pools with views!

Friday, February 24, 2017

#87 & #88 Sleepless in Seattle

Shannon, Courtney and I went to the Pacific Northwest for winter break to visit family, friends and a college tour of the University of Washington. After four days of no swimming due to a busy travel schedule and pool closures I was pleasantly sleepless in Seattle with jet lag that helped me get up early to hit a couple new pools--#87 & #88

The first pool was the swanky Bellevue Athletic Club on the east side. I was a guest of my good friend Mark a long time member. It's a full service club with multiple weight/cardio rooms, racquet courts, a hotel and restaurant, a spa and...two pools. I swam in the 25 meter competition pool next to the local club team. Across the bulkhead was a 25 yard warmer and shallower therapy pool.  It took me a few hundred yards during warm up of tight send offs to realize I was in a meter pool. Easing back into the routine in luxurious surroundings was definitely the way to go. A good workout, a steam bath and breakfast treated by Mark made it a good start to a Presidents Day sightseeing in Seattle.  A trip to Pikes Place and  lunch with Connor were a couple of the days highlights.

#88 was at the other end of the spectrum, a spartan city pool next to Green Lake. Back in the day, running around the lake and passing the pool was routine yet I had never stepped foot in the pool and rec center.  After a slight disagreement with the pool manager I figured out when the actual lap swim hours started. I waited about 15 minutes and was finally able to get in. The lanes filled up fast without much regard to swim speed. Flip turns were tough as the shallow end was really shallow and it was like bumper cars in the lane however I managed to get in 4500 yards. Post swim we stopped at a favorite Seattle institution~Starbucks to fuel up for a college tour of the University of Washington. 

We then headed off to Portland for three busy fun filled days visiting family and eating and eating and eating.  I also had two solid training sessions at my home pool #16 Lake Oswego District Pool. Great get-away in the Pacific Northwest. Go Huskies!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

#86-A Good Start

Three new pools in a month! I haven't done that since October 2015 where I swam in pools in Oregon, Texas and New York.

January 2017 had me in two new pools in Massachusetts and pool #86 in Phoenix, Arizona. Business took me to Phoenix which always nice in the New England winters for obvious reasons but it's also good outdoor pool country.

A little research led me to the aquatic center at the Phoenix Country Day School.  It was a beautiful outdoor facility. A 50 meter pool with a lot of deck space and adjacent to that a 25 yard pool. The looming feature of the complex is a massive jumbo-torn that serves as the pace clock-very cool.  It was an early bell as masters practice started at 5:30am.  Practice was good but the best part was the coach, well actually his name--Coach Taco! Kind of an interesting name as he was--Japanese!

It was a perfect way to start the day on a business trip.

Good progress was also made in January with English Channel prep.  I found a great house to stay at in Dover. It's called Sea Purse and it sits at the base of the white cliffs in St. Margarets Bay. Seemingly ideal accommodations.

January swimming recap:
*94,000 yards/53 miles
*average 23,500 yards a week
*22 pool workouts
*26 hours swimming
*10,000 yard workout (100x100's)

Onward and upward!

Monday, January 16, 2017

#85 Narrow lanes...not narrow minded

Oddly, the title of this blog ends up being timely with the presidential inauguration taking place this week.

The Wayland Town Pool's heater is broken so Coach Jen moved practice to Babson College on this Martin Luther King holiday. Yay a new pool! I really wanted to sleep in today but couldn't pass up the chance to hit a new pool.

Babson College is a short hop from the house to Wellesley.  The athletic field house is tucked in the back of this pretty suburban campus.  I wasn't familiar with the campus however I followed a few cars that ended up having fellow masters swimmers in them and eventually made it to the pool.

The pool isn't totally old school but it certainly wasn't built in the last 10 years (actually it was built in 1989-I looked it up).  It's a six lane 25 yard pool with a viewing gallery that holds about 150 spectators.  It one of those pools where it has high and deep open tiled gutters.  Before heading to the locker room a quick glance confirmed what I would have suspected-narrow lanes!

By the time I got out of the locker room the lanes were pretty crowded so I ended up with the dreaded lane by the wall. While I do swim next to the wall at MIT the lanes are quite roomy.  At Babson College that was not the case.  I kept an open mind about the narrow lane situation and jumped in the pool with my two new lane mates. It was a bit tight and it took some getting use to coming into and out of the turns.  You also had to be careful not to smack your hands on the wall, the lane line or even on your lane mates hand. 

In the end it worked out ok. The practice was tough and I only smacked my hand a couple of times.  I found that if I just tried to stay positive and focus on what I can control it worked on in the long run.

With the incoming administration it will likely be a tumultuous and challenging four years. One can only hope that they will be thoughtful, open minded and lead with class and decency. Like swimming in narrow lanes all we can do is stay positive, focus on what we can control and know that the tough workout will end in four years!

E plurbis unum.

Monday, January 2, 2017

#84 New Year...New Pool

The discovery of a new pool to kick off the new year didn't take very long. In fact, it only took until day two of 2017!

I went with Shannon to her new swanky health club Lifetime Fitness in Framingham.  It is on the outskirts of Framingham very close to the Wayland border so it's still an easy drive to get there.  The club is six months old, effectively brand new.  The club has three levels with a huge fitness floor, multiple exercise studios, racquet ball, a restaurant and wait for it...not one, not two but...three swimming pools.

There are two indoor pools both six lanes and 25 yards long. One is clearly designated as the lap pool the other you could swim laps in but it looks like it is likely used more for classes. It also has a bumped out shallow section with a mushroom shaped waterfall for kids. There is also a six lane 25 yard outdoor pool and an adjacent recreation pool for families. An aquatic paradise!

It wasn't very crowded at all so I had a lane to myself.  With a lot of eating and drinking during the holidays and not much exercise the 3,600 yards I swam was quite a slog.  A new years resolution of kicking 600 yards a week accomplished on day one.  The best part of this aquatic wonderland was there were not one but...two jacuzzis.  A post swim soak in the jacuzzi was a perfect way to relax from a not very strenuous workout and enjoy a New Years Day holiday.

Looking forward to new pools and adventure in 2017 and hoping that Shannon will invite me back to her new club!

The year also started off right with a solo New Years Polar Plunge in Lake Cochituate. It was a quick dip as it was windy and cold. Water temp likely in the high 30's-the goggles and cap weren't necessary.  Picked up Ryan at the train station from a New Years Eve in Boston and he wanted a purifying dip to start the new year it was back to the lake!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 The Year in Review

Well...its that time of year to reflect on this years experiences and to look towards the clean slate of the new year.

While this is a swimming blog I will keep my commentary mostly focused on swimming related events however I will sprinkle in a couple of personal highlights along the way.

Let's start with the hard numbers. Through out the course of the year I swam a total of 931,242 yards in total pools and in open water. That is an equivalent of 529 miles or the distance from Boston to Mississagauga, Ontario, Canada a suburb of Toronto. There were a total of 219 swimming sessions for a cumulative 267 hours. I surpassed my 2016 goal of 450 miles by 18%. There was also a goal to write 24 swimming inspired blogs and I wrote 29.

I swam in a total of 10 new pools in four states-California, Colorado, Florida and Minnesota. California and Colorado accounted for seven of the new pools.  When I look back to the genesis of this blog swimming in 50 new pools in my 50th year I must say that I am impressed with myself to pull that off in twelve months. It's not easy to find new pools on a regular basis.

There were seven different swimming competitions ranging from the pool to open water.  Swimming at the Harvard meet with Hubbard, Jeff and Josh was good fun. I need to do more swim meets in the future. 

The open water events were unique in their own right with their own memories. Swimming with my friend Jen side by side (actually I hang on her toes) for a couple open water swims was fun. My three-peat victory of my age group in the Boston Sharkfest was a good boost to my swimming ego.

Far and away, the two big channel swims were the highlights of the swimming year. Estrecho de Gibraltar was such a fun and memorable trip from the swim to the trip itself in southern Spain and Morocco and making a new friend along the way.  The Anacapa Channel swim while a late addition to the swimming calendar in 2016 it was memorable in its own way notably that much of the swim was in the pitch dark of night. Many lessons learned on this swim.  For more detail about both of these swims see blogposts dated  6/19 and 11/27.

Estrecho de Gibraltar~Spain to Morocco

Anacapa Channel, California

Highlights beyond my personal swim journey were also high on the hit list.

-Road tripping across the country from Boston to Los Angeles to drop a car off with Ryan.

-Sean's graduation from Weston High School.

-Family trip to Acadia National Park

-Dropping Sean off at CU.

-Family trip to Los Angeles to see USC play CU in football.

-Going to New York City to see Hamilton with Courtney.

-Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris.

Swimming goals for 2017 are quite simple; to train for and successfully cross the English Channel in September.  Focused training and with help and support from coach Chloe and family and friends I believe this is quite achievable.  In addition to that I want to swim a total of 600 miles, swim in 10 new pools, compete in at least one swim meet and write 24 swimming related blogs.

Happy New Year!

"Just keep swimming"~Dory