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Racing Time is Here Again: Beaten Up in Baden

22 January 2023


I am so thrilled that we seem to have gotten back into the swing of competitions. Our first event of 2023 was a morning competition down at the wonderful Wilmot Recreation Complex (pool #567) in Baden, Ontario, about 15 minutes outside the bigger city of Kitchener:

There's a fascination in Ontario with building 6 lane pools, so it's always a delight to find an eight-lane facility, especially one with a true deep end and flow-over gutters. What this allowed the host team to do for this smallish event was this:

  • Run four lanes for competition - lanes 2 to 5

  • Keep lanes 1 and 6 completely open

  • Use lanes 7 and 8 for continuous warmup throughout the meet

When I originally signed up, in direct contrast to my last sprint-oriented racing, I had entered what I thought to be a robust set of events:

  • 200 IM

  • 400 free

  • 200 fly

That seemed like a sufficient racing load and enough to make the drive (~2 hours one way) and cost worth it. About a week ago, the meet director emailed us and said they would have enough time to add an 800 free as the last event. As I've been in my aerobic training phase and I haven't swum the 800 since I turned 50 (actually, not since 2015), this seemed like a great bonus event.


It was ... and the racing morning was truly an exquisitely painful experience ... but I was wiped by the end.


I didn't rest for this and, in fact, had done a hard gym session on Thursday that I was still feeling in warmup, but I was excited to get on the blocks and go. Here's how it all went:


200 IM

  • Best 50+ time - 2:22.17 (Canadian Nationals, May 2022)

  • Result - 2:24.94

  • Reaction - I was 2:29.93 back in November (also unrested) and this is almost as fast as I went tapered and shaved in December 2021. I just tried to build each 50 and felt pretty darn strong throughout.

400 freet

  • Best 50+ time - 4:28.34 (Canadian Nationals, May 2022)

  • Result - 4:35.27

  • Reaction - I really want to have a look at my splits as I was intending to build throughout the swim and one guy on deck said I had negative split it (but then he couldn't remember my 200 split). I've found that using stroke count is a great way to build a longer race, so I aimed for 13-14-15-16 strokes per length (SPL) by 100 and pretty much executed that.

200 Fly

  • Best 50+ time - 2:25.09 (Stephen Forsey Meet, February 2020)

  • Result - 2:28... (have to get the hundredths from the final result)

  • Reaction - I will also need to check these splits as I was, I think, a bit too much of a "Sammy Save-up" for the last 50. As I only had about 25 minutes between the end of this and the start of the 800, I willfully cruised the first 145 and only tried to turn on some speed for the second to last turn and the last 50.

800 free

  • Best 50+ time - haven't swum it since I was 47

  • Result - 9:27.34

  • Reaction - My goal today was two-fold. First, to beat my slowest ever Masters time of 9:29.55 (done tapered in 2006). Second, to use my stroke count approach to try to even split as closely as possible. The stroke count goal was

  • 1st 100 - 13 SPL

  • 2nd 100 - 14 SPL

  • Middle 400 - 15 SPL

  • 7th 100 - 16 SPL

  • 8th 100 - 17 SPL

  • ... and I executed this nearly perfectly, I did take a look at the scoreboard after each 200 and believe my 200 splits were - 2:20.8, 2:22.0, 2:23.3, 2:21.2 - but I'll double check when the final results come out.

I dove in for the 200 IM around 8:40 am and completed the 800 around 11:30 am. I was on the verge of puking over the last 150 of the 800... so this was a great, gut-wrenching morning of racing.


Exactly how I like to spend a Sunday morning!

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