FRAY Masters Swim Meet

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One nice thing about small swim meets is that they move along quickly. One bad thing about small swim meets is they move along quickly. I thought the time between my first two events was really short. That was before I saw my buddy Jon walk quickly from the finish of one race directly to the start of his next. There wasn’t even another heat between races for him.

While that can be tiring, it’s good for getting the heart rate up and gauging fitness. The masters swim meet at Four Rivers YMCA in Washington, MO offered good competition and moved along at a fast pace. About 30 swimmers, ranging from 19 to 93 years of age, participated in the FRAY swim meet on March 23. Meet officials, YMCA staff and volunteers did a great job of organizing the event and helping participants.

It was good to see friends I’ve made through area swimming events. The Y in Washington is the home pool for Jon and Diane, both regulars in the masters and senior swim circuit. I’ve swam against Diane several times as she and I both enjoy swimming longer distance races. I’ve competed with her husband Tim at basketball skills competition in the Show Me State Games.

Jon and I are close in age and see each other at swim meets two or three times a year. Also, in our age group was Mitch who turned in some impressive sprint times after spending much of last year away from swimming. Talking with Mitch reminded me of how fortunate we are to be able to share this competitive sport. As we age the reality of activity-limiting injury is all too real. But on this day, we hauled our sore shoulders and stiff backs up on the starting blocks so we could splash and dash our way to the finish.

The meet started with the 500-yard freestyle, the longest distance event of the day. I realized why I like this event so much. Cowbells. Not the pacing or endurance required, but the cowbells. As participants start their final lap, a cowbell is rung to signify the end is near. Who doesn’t love the clanging of a good cowbell in an enclosed space? Especially when it’s ringing just for you! The eleven participants in this event spanned the full range of age and gender.

While it wasn’t my best time, I was pleased to finish the 500 under the seven-minute mark. The next event I swam was the 50-yard butterfly where I did set a personal best by almost a half-second. Knowing how I feel as I flail through this stroke is such a contrast to the way it’s swam by those who have mastered the technique. Watching Andrew and Jonathan battle in the 100-yard butterfly was one of the most entertaining races for me. Early in the race, Andrew’s stroke appeared faster but he had taken three before Jonathan came up for his first. Jonathan’s strength and efficiency persevered in the end. It was great to watch the dynamics.

My next event was the 200-yard freestyle which challenges my pacing and conditioning. I was glad the 50-yard freestyle was slotted a few races later. I’m not much of a sprinter, but it was nice to go all-out for the short distance. No record, but I was pleased with the result of my effort.

The final race of the meet was the 400-yard individual medley. I am learning to enjoy this race. The IM includes all four strokes and I’ve swam it in shorter distances for a few years. Only recently have I stepped up to 400 yards. I had to change my mindset from ‘I can’t do anything else after swimming a hundred yards of butterfly’ to ‘the rest of the race is a reward for finishing the 100 fly’.

The FRAY meet in Washington was well-run with plenty of volunteers. The facility was nice with excellent locker rooms. It was great to connect with friends and enjoy some friendly competition. The race also served as good preparation for a big meet in Edwardsville, IL the following weekend.

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