2 October 2021
While I do enjoy solo swimming as it induces an extra meditative component above the baseline contemplation that water already creates, training with others, chatting quickly between repeats or sets, jumping on the blocks or pushing off the wall and racing others, adds a jolt of mental, physical and psychological energy that enlivens mind and body to a whole 'nother level. Breaking bread with those same swimmers after an endorphin-generating workout in a gorgeous pool makes for a morning close to heaven for me.
As my work meetings in Maryland ran through Friday, but pick back up on Monday, and as I've got a lot of "work backlog" to power through, I decided to stay in Maryland over the weekend, committing to a rather hermetic, work-focused time in my hotel room ... with one swimming "outing" each day. This morning started at the University of Maryland's stunning Eppley Recreation Center with the fast and fun Terrapin Masters swimming team.
Years ago - we were trying to figure this out over the post-workout bagel meal - I had met two of the team members, Mollie and Jeff, through the US Masters Swimming community. We weren't 100% sure if we first met in the online, virtual swimming "forums" that were quite lively back around the 2010 time period, or at one of the many national championships we had gone to around that time ... maybe Georgia Tech in 2010? Greensboro on 2012? Regardless, we'd known each other for about a decade, shared swimming ideas periodically, and seen each other at the occasional meet, but had never trained together. When Jeff noticed through my Instagram posts that I was in town, he guided me over for their 1.5 hour long Saturday morning swim workout at this jaw-dropping facility:
We had the 6 or 7 lanes running width-wise in the picture on the right ... and we each had our own lane ... 9 or 10 foot depth, crystalline, chilled-just-right, sheer perfection in water. I fumbled my arrival time a bit, not understanding it was parents weekend on campus making parking a challenge, so I was about 10 minutes late, but Coach Ethan was welcoming and plopped me in Lane 7. I honestly cannot remember all of the sets, but it was a very creative mix of speed work across many different sprint distances (25, 50, 75, 100), culminating in three rounds of speed work that each ended with a 50 fast from the blocks. It was a blast to jump up and dive in, and my times were not that bad - 27.6 on fly, 29+ on back, 33.5 on breast. While the sets are all jumbled in my head now, I added up 3,500 yards ... with more speed work than I would ever do in a solo swim.
As much as I enjoyed the pool, sitting outside on a sunny day, eating great bagel sandwiches, catching up with Mollie & Jeff, meeting new fellow swimmers (two who had done the reverse move from me and migrated down from Canada to the USA), was just a wonderful way to spend part of Saturday morning, energizing me for my day "at the office."