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Race Report: IM Fast(er) Masters Challenge

18 December 2022

It's been over a decade since I last tried tapering for a meet where I switched out my normal mid-to-long distance focus for a sprint focus. Today's Swim Ontario IM Fast Masters Challenge made for a perfect target for an end-of-year racing experience:

  • Held at the fantastic Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre

  • A focused afternoon of swimming with the 50s of each stroke (in IM order) followed by a 100 IM.

I really like what Swim Ontario did to create this event, squeezing it in between prelims and finals of an international age group meet, the Ontario Junior International, with a competitor cap of 125 swimmers to ensure we were in and out without disrupting that event.

While my training has gone very well this fall, over the last few days I've been battling a head cold (not COVID as I tested both Friday and this morning), so I wasn't entirely sure how I would perform ... but I had worked, I had tapered, I had shaved and I was psyched to race.

When I entered the meet, I used the best times I had gone since moving to Canada at the start of 2019. My goal was to beat those ... the stretch goal was to see if I could go faster than times even from my late 40s.

50 Fly

  • Entry time - 29.14 (Canadian Nationals, May 2022)

  • Result - 28.92

  • Reaction - I think I surprised the guy in the lane next to me as I yelled out some interjection of satisfaction. The first 25 felt rusty on many mechanical parts - too deep on the start, sloppy turn - but I did feel powerful. I would have liked a smidge faster to make this my best time of my 50s, as I went 28.69 five years ago, but this was a great start to the meet.

50 Back

  • Entry time - 31.94 (IM Fast, December 2019)

  • Result - 31.04

  • Reaction - I had probably the best start I've ever had using the starting wedge; mind you, it was still not a good start, but it wasn't utterly horrible like I usually do. Much like the 50 fly, I felt frenetic and sloppy on the first 25, but got into my stroke moreso on the back half. I don't race this often, but I have to go back almost a decade to 2013 to find a time faster (30.01).

50 Breast

  • Entry time - 35.49 (Steven Forsey Meet, February 2020)

  • Result - 34.83

  • Reaction - I seriously need to find a way to get some start practice. The best part of any breaststroke race for me is always the underwater pullout, so I generally go a little deeper on my start than other strokes ... but I again went too deep. Because of a nagging groin pull, I haven't trained much breaststroke, so was really happy to notch an age 50+ best time here.

50 Free

  • Entry time - 26.94 (New England Championships, December 2021)

  • Result - 26.68

  • Reaction - For someone who is not a sprinter, I very often enter this race. I have only been under 27 seconds twice in the last 8 years. Of all the races I swam today, this felt like the best executed - not too deep on the start, one breath before the turn, one breath mid-way back, and I didn't feel like I lost momentum to the finish.

100 IM

  • Entry time - 1:06.45 (IM Fast, December 2019)

  • Result - 1:06.03

  • Reaction - Given how strong my 50s were, I felt like I could get under 1:06 on this and came achingly close. This still marks the best time I've gone since I turned 50, as I had gone a 1:06.30 back in November 2017 ... so I am mildly happy with this. This was the one race, though, where the wheels started to come off the bus near the end ... not surprising given the short amount of rest between racing, but my quads were seizing towards the end.

All in all, this was a fantastic event and I am very happy with my results. It's getting me even more excited to enter the next phase of my training, to build upon a solid base and aim to be even faster in my core events this spring.

The next meet will be a return to some favorite races as I'm planning on entering the 200 IM, 400 Free, and 200 Fly for a meet in mid-late-January.


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