Probably the best airline frequent flyer benefit, at least for domestic travel, is Southwest Airlines' Companion Pass, which allows a companion to fly free with you for the following year. To earn this, you have to accumulate 110,000 points over a calendar year. After my last business trip of the year on November 28th, I thought I had just squeaked over the limit, but ...
... was 109 points short!
I have never done a 'mileage run' before, but I was too close to pass up this opportunity. With a little planning, I managed to find a ~$62 round trip flight to Vegas this week that would earn me slightly less than 200 points, more than enough to put me over the limit. Earning the Companion Pass was enough to make the trip worthwhile, but the real fun was combining my 'mileage run' with a 'pool run.'
Getting the cheap fare meant I was on a 5:55am departure out of Sky Harbor, but, thanks to the time zone change, that had me landing at 6am Vegas time. Though, in hindsight, it wasn't the most scenic jaunt, I decided to walk the ~1 mile from the Vegas airport to the UNLV campus.
Once I got through rocky berms that surrounded the airport access roads, I did actually find a sidewalk along the part of Wayne Newton Blvd that turned into Swenson Street and connected with Tropicana Avenue. While the Vegas Strip might not go to sleep, this outskirty part was quiet at that time of day. After about 20 minutes, I was crossing the massive parking lot near events centers - Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion.
By 6:35am, I dove into the otherwise empty 6 lane, 25 yard pool at the Student Rec Center:
... and used my favorite trick to get the lifeguards to take a picture of me after my first workout of the day. I liked everything about this pool except that the 'lines' on the bottom of the pool were actually disconnected diamonds placed every few yards. As there was no "T" at each end on the bottom, I had to look up (bad stroke form) at each end when swimming freestyle. I adapted by turning this into a 2,000 yard individual medley-oriented speed workout.
After some Greek yogurt at the Einstein's inside the student center, I summoned an Uber for the ~5 mile distance to the Las Vegas Municipal Pool. As business conferences often end up in Vegas, I had swum a number of times before with the excellent Las Vegas Masters team at the Desert Breeze pool, but wasn't aware that the city of Las Vegas operated other great facilities. Much like Desert Breeze, the Municipal Pool is a cavernous 50 meter by 25 yard pool. Unlike Desert Breeze, which I have always found to be a bit dark, the Municipal pool is framed by windows and has a semi-transparent ceiling:
My camera didn't do such a great job of capturing the light here, but, while not quite as bright as the UNLV pool, this was still a cheery place to swim. I cranked out another 2000 yard workout, swimming in the 'deep side' at the far end of this picture, this second workout focused on freestyle pacing for the "mile" (e.g., 1650 yards). As with the UNLV pool, there was a great digital clock and I had my own lane.
Both of these pools featured very large, very clean locker rooms, an aspect that is often skimped on at many otherwise great pools. By 9:30am, I had cranked out 4,000 yards across two pools, which made for a long morning of training. I hopped in another Uber back to the airport, got on an earlier flight and was back in Phoenix in plenty of time to pick my daughter up from school. Had I realized that I could get to these two pools so quickly, I probably should have started my day at the Pavilion Pool and managed three pools in one morning. I doubt my shoulders could've handled it, though, and now I have a reason to be excited about coming to Vegas in February for a business trip!