Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Minimalism

My good friend Zach is really into the minimalism movement. You know concepts like; less is more, buy one article of clothing and get of rid two and love people/experiences not things. I have even attended a minimalism lecture with him. It's beginning to rub off on me.


When you think about it swimming is the ultimate minimalistic sport. All you need is a body of water and a swim suit and goggles, if you so desire. 


This week I brought my swimming back to the bare minimum with my first open water swim of season in Boston Harbor. Some consumption oriented people that don't adhere to a spartan mind freeing lifestyle join fancy health clubs like Equinox for their fitness needs. I have gone the other way and have gone back to the basics by joining the Curley Community Center aka the L Street Bath House in South Boston. The Community Center serves a very authentic Southie clientele not necessarily the young Equinox type professionals working in the Seaport or Financial District's. 


The Bath House is an large older build that sits on Dorchester Bay . It has basic weight rooms and cardio rooms and even a boxing sparring room. It is also divided by the men's side and the women's side. Some areas of fitness facilities are for single sex use only. The impetus for me to join was that the locker rooms open up to the beach for easy open water swimming access and have steam and sauna rooms to warm up after a chilly swim. There is a men's beach and a women's beach. 



As it was my first time at the club I was a bit more observant than usual and noticed that exiting from the men's locker room to the beach that the "old timers" were let's say a bit immodest with their swimming togs if any, at all. Interesting. 


The water was a tepid 55 degrees. It took me a bit of time to ease into the water but nevertheless-I persisted. Once I got in and started swimming I felt just fine. I stayed in the water for about 25 minutes. I didn't swim far but that was ok as this was more of a "mental" challenge than an actual workout.


I took a quick steam which felt great and went about my Southie day. Shannon, Zach and I had brunch at Local 149 and then Zach and I had a beer at a very minimalistic Shannon's Tavern next to Zach's new uncluttered home. 


Looking forward to more open water swimming time at the L Street Bath House this summer.


Was Whitey Bulger was an open water swimmer as I'm quite sure he frequented the Bath House?


Monday, May 15, 2017

To be a Trojan...Is to be an adventurer

To be a Trojan...Is to be an adventurer~Virgil


It's been 1,361 days since I've swum in these two pools consecutively. I have swam countless yards and in 56 different pools at home and abroad. The swimming adventures during that time period have been many and memorable. But none quite as memorable as August 21, 2013 when I swam in both the Mc Donald's Olympic Swim Stadium and the Los Angeles Swim Stadium pools in the same day. You see it's because it was on that day 1,361 days ago I dropped Ryan off at the University of Southern California to start his college career.


This week as a family we celebrated Ryan's graduation from college. Wow-how time flies! It started with a very chic dinner at Nobu in Malibu. It was a quintessential LA scene with beautiful people all around and a primo table right on the water. We were joined by Ryan's friend Mayme as Sean hadn't arrived from Boulder yet. Sean would have loved the setting but not likely the food.


The following day we enjoyed walking around Silver Lake, lunch downtown and resting for the evening festivities. Thursday night, the was the family graduation party at The Bungalows. Affectionally known as The Bungs they are a unique and special living complex with about ten small individual bungalows surrounding a courtyard. Ryan lives there with there with 12 of his good friends. The setting is ideal for hanging out. With all the time the boys spent in the courtyard enjoying each other's company and partying it was the perfect place for a family grad party. The Bung mom's decorated the courtyard and had BBQ catered. It was great to meet the parents of Ryan's friends and catch up with the boys and celebrate their achievements. I've had the good fortune to spend time with some of the boys over the years-a great group of young men. It was truly a magical evening and a highlight of the trip and one which I know all will remember for many years to come. Wish I could say it was an early night for an early morning for the big commencement but...no.




It was an early morning for Shannon and I as were on campus by 6:45am to save seats for commencement ceremonies as they were expecting 60,000 people. Commencement was filled with pomp and circumstance from the regalia and robes of the faculty, the cardinal and gold landscaping, marching band music and the releasing of white doves at the end of the ceremony. The commencement speaker was Will Ferrell. He did a great job of mixing humor and advice to the audience. It was then a mad dash to the engineering school's ceremony to safe seats yet again. It was here that we got to see Ryan walk across the stage or at least on a big screen tv. There were 650 graduating engineers so it was a long ceremony. The featured speaker was Andrew Viterbi the namesake of the engineering school and the inventor of the 50 year old Viterbi algorithm. Not entirely sure what the algorithm does but it's drives much of the technology we use today. It was time for more pictures and I don't think Ryan was too pleased but that's part of the drill! We then all went back home to rest before a family dinner. Not sure how we did it but we all eventually rallied for our last family dinner. It was memorable day of formal celebration of well-earned academic achievement. 





Shannon and Courtney then headed to the airport to take the red eye back to Boston as it was Courtney's prom on Saturday night. Since she was going to prom with swimmer I can post a picture of them in this blog. Look how beautiful she is and what a great looking couple they are. 



On Saturday, Sean, Ryan and I hung out for a bit before we went to the beach in Santa  Monica and then to our final family graduation event at a Bung bros parents home in Bel Air (that's what the Snapchat geotag said). It was a lovely setting and a low key way to wind down. 



It was a perfect four days to spend time with family, make new friends and to celebrate current and future successes. 


Ryan's successful adventure in college has in many ways been shaped by the goal setting, self discipline and the hard work he learned in swimming (see I could tie this back to swimming).  While there is one more year of grad school left this was certainly a big life milestone and new chapter starts today.



Ryan we are all proud of you and look forward to seeing where your adventures take you in the future.


While we are a family of Huskies, Trojans, Buffs and who knows what else in the future let's all take heed of Virgil words and be adventurous like Trojans!


#Fighton #USCGrad

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#92 & a week of opposites

Not sure really where to begin it's been quite a swimming week! 


From indoor pools to outdoor pools from chlorine to salt water from coast to coast. It started on Patriots Day under the bubble at the Wayland Town Pool staring at the black line in lane 8.  In the short hour I could swim before heading to the airport Coach Jen had the perfect workout to knock me out for the long flight to Los Angeles. 


A short twelve hours later (maybe not so short) I found myself in the Pacific Ocean in my old stomping grounds-Laguna Beach!  It was for the second swim of the day! The water was a cool 59 degrees and I swam with no black lines from my hotel the Pacific Edge to the base of Las Brisas and back. It was just over a mile round trip and the water temp felt just fine. Cool but very doable. I could have swum longer. It was also a first~a bi-coastal east coast pool swim followed by a west coast open water swim all in the same day!

The next morning before having to leave for a business meeting in San Diego I was able to squeeze in three laps on the same course for about 1.5 miles. 


Post meeting in San Diego it was back up to Los Angeles for meetings the next day. After a quick pit stop at my hotel in Marina Del Rey it was off to the Bungalows and downtown Los Angeles to take Ryan and a friend to dinner. We went to the hip Ace Hotel had a drink on the roof top bar and then went downstairs for dinner. It was a fun and quick dinner with Ryan as he a lot of homework. Looking forward to seeing him in three weeks for graduation. 

It was early to bed as the next morning had the potential to be another first. The alarm went off at 5:00am. I groaned, rolled over and wrestled with whether or not I should go to swim practice or not. Good prevailed and I rolled out of bed for 5:30am practice with Southern California Aquatic Master. It was as at Loyola Marymount University in Playa Vista and pool #91. Per usual, in Southern California it was a 10 lane outdoor pool and set up long course too boot. It was a 3000m workout that started in the dark and ended at 6:30am with the light of dawn. It had been awhile since swimming long course and it felt good.

Post swim it was time for some quick nourishment on Abbott Kinney. I went to the TOM store where they have a cool back patio grabbed a bite to eat and did some work.

Recharged I was ready for round two~an open water swim.  It was off to Santa Monica and (lifeguard) Tower 26. It was a bit choppy with a fair amount of surfers in the line up. Once I made it past the break it was smooth-ish sailing. It was pretty kelpy in some spots and I got whacked by an unsuspecting wave once. I swam towards the Santa Monica Pier for bit and swam back. My guesstimate is that I swam 2000 yards. A quick check in with the lifeguard confirmed the water temp was 59-60 degrees. Feeling much better about my cold water acclimatization while I need to be in cool water longer than I have been it's really feeling quite good. A confidence boost, for sure. 

A chlorinated pool and the salty Pacific a two-fer before 9:30am~another first!


East coast vs west coast, old pools vs new pools, chlorine vs saltwater, indoors vs outdoors, black lines vs no black lines. So many opposites this week really shook the swim routine up-that's good!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

#91 St. George's Prep & SAA Relay Challenge

This is a combo blogpost hitting on two swimming swim related events in the last couple of weeks.

The first was a quick hit, pool #89 in Newport, Rhode Island.  I was in town for a business meeting.  A little work on the World Wide Web let me to St. George's Prep School a quick 10 minute drive from my hotel. It was dark when I drove on to the spacious campus and I got lost for a bit. When I finally found the preppy lacrosse fields I knew I was in the right spot and just followed the small parade of cars and swimmers to the pool.  As expected at a swanky prep school the pool was nice. There wasn't much time for a long workout as I had to get back for a breakfast meeting. I was able to squeeze in 3000 yards-not too shabby.
Next up was the Swim Across America Relay Swim at Harvard's Blodgett Pool. I have participated in SAA events in the past, all open water but I had never volunteered for this worthy cause. My open water swimming friend, Jen contacted me one day and asked if I would be willing to help out. It was a Sunday and I had little else to do so-why not? Maybe I could get a few laps in myself!

The event is a 2 hour continuous relay swim with multiple teams competing against each other to raise money for cancer research, see who can swim the most yards and to have fun. There were over 250 swimmers of all ages from USA Swimming teams to US Masters teams. The pool deck was bedlam.

I got there early to help set up the sign up area and put signage up in the gallery. The most fun part was handing out t-shirts when the kids and adults came on to the deck.

The event was really fun to watch with teams of 5 swimmers to 15+ swimmers swimming 25 yards apiece up to 100 yards per swimmer. The music was loud and fun and the emcee was calling out instructions from specific strokes to doggy paddle to corkscrew to Macarena swimming. After watching the first hour and realizing there wasn't much volunteering to be done I decided to jump in with some friends on the Cambridge Masters team. I may have swum a total of 12 laps and I pretty sure everyone of them was some crazy made up stroke. It was a lot of fun!  With one minute left to go everyone jumped in the pool and cheered!

While SAA events are always fun they are always for a serious cause-cancer research.  With $80,000 raised before this event they were on track to raising well over $100,000. That's  a lot of money for a two hour relay swim. Unfortunately, I was reminded once again that cancer isn't something that effects other families it also has effected ours (again).  I swam for Ant Megan. She is a real trooper!


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!