Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nomadic Swimming

I haven't necessarily written much lately because I haven't raced aside from the oddball cyclocross or running race, and I also haven't really had the brain power or wherewithal to dive into some sort of treatise on a philosophical issue that relates to sports like I have been known to do in the past (though I've got a good one in my head I will put out soon). I am, however, currently in the middle of a 3-week course for work, Port State Control Officer school, at the lovely Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown. Fortunately, Yorktown isn't too far from where I live in Virginia Beach so I'm able to go home as much as I want, but it's far enough that I am at least occasionally spending the night in the barracks. Spending 2 1/2 hours a day in the car (an hour in the morning, 1:30+ in the afternoon) and putting 100 mi round trip on my poor Element isn't really worth it just to go home to an empty apartment. So that has me a little out of my normal routine with respect to working out, but that's not really a bad thing. I actually prefer running and riding in Yorktown, as it's a lot less urban, it's prettier, speed limits are lower, and so on. Swimming is actually better too, because instead of a 10 minute drive, or a 20 minute drive sitting in traffic, depending on the pool, it's roughly a 45 second walk from my bed to the pool. This got me thinking, though, of the various pools I've swam in. As somebody who pretty much always has to fit in my workouts, it's led to some interesting arrangements. Pools I think are easiest to quantify because, they're more tangible than a running or cycling route. Also, in some ways they present the biggest challenge when traveling or just otherwise out of your daily routine. If you're traveling, there's a good chance you don't have your bike with you unless it's a training/racing-specific trip, so that's out and you hope the hotel has more than just a recumbent stationary bike, but running is easy. Swimming, however, can probably always be done in most semi-populated areas; it just takes some planning and possibly some dinero. On a personal level, I also think a mental exercise like this is kind of cool because it's sort of like the story of my life, as told through my goggles' view, just like the Netflix-only 4th season of Arrested Development where each episode was one specific character.
So as of December 2013, this is the best list I could come up with of pools I have swam in, as well as some notes where I remember. I can't honestly remember the name of a single pool/club from when I swam summer league as an 8, 9, and 10 year old, as well as the summer I was 17 except for places I practiced, so just add some random community pools/country clubs across in the Tri County League and the Suburban Swimming Association of South Jersey.
**Quick guide for the land mammals: SCY=short course yards (25 yds), SCM=short course meters (25 m), and LCM=long course meters (50m, aka "Olympic size")

Westwood Swim Club-Mt. Holly, NJ-outdoor SCM pool, where my family went when I was younger, and also where I swam for the summer team when I was 8, 9, and 10, before quitting swimming because it interfered with baseball and because I thought I sucked. I was wrong, I would have made a much better swimmer than baseball player in the long run. Oh well.

Fort Dix Indoor Pool-Fort Dix, NJ-indoor SCY pool at the Army base near my parents' house, where I've done the occasional workout if I am spending time at home. Coincidentally, this is also where I had my first swimming lessons when I was really little. There is an awesome slide that I haven't been on since I was probably 6.
Burlington County Special Services School-Westampton, NJ-indoor 4-lane SCY pool, where we held preseason practices for Westwood, also where my high school team practiced when I started swimming again in 11th grade. I remember this pool was about 93 degrees, so we'd open up the door to outside in the winter, which would make it fog up like crazy. One specific memory I have is during a ridiculously long set of breaststroke that all of us guys in the fastest lane who only swam freestyle were absolutely dogging and getting lapped by the breaststrokers, I was looking straight ahead each time I breathed like you're not supposed to, and eventually I noticed at one point that I couldn't see the other wall because it was so foggy with the single digit air temps coming in and interacting with the super warm air inside.
Burlington County College-Pemberton, NJ-indoor SCY pool, where all of my high school dual meets and league championships were held because none of the schools in our league had our own pools. When I swam summer league again as a 17 year old, I swam with the BCC Aqua Barons, and this was one of our practice pools, as well as where our one home meet took place (which, coincidentally, an indoor summer meet is just weird). Also after the end of my senior year high school season, I swam for the year-round club team out of BCC. I've also dropped back in a few times since leaving, as I maintained a pretty good relationship with the coaches/aquatics people there, since this is really where I became a swimmer, so to speak.One of my most nostalgic pools for that reason
Pretty sure this during the 500 in a high school meet during my senior year against Rancocas Valley. If I remember correctly, this is from the first lap, too, yet I'm already half a body length behind. I'm not really sure how with a seed time probably somewhere around 6:30 I ended up in lane 4.
Ironwood Outdoor Center-Lumberton, NJ-outdoor SCM(?) pool, one of the practice locations for BCC's summer team. This was the last time I ever swam outside with any consistency.
JW Marriott Ihilani-Oahu, HI-I honestly don't remember much about this, but my family went on vacation here shortly before the start of my senior year high school season, so I made it a point to get in a couple of swim workouts. The main pool was neat and all, but I'm referring to a lap pool within the fitness center, that if I remember right, was saltwater, which was kind of cool. I also remember it being incredibly shallow, so much that I couldn't do open turns or else my feet would drag, so I used that as an excuse why to only do freestyle.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology-Sewell, NJ-pretty much the gold standard of swimming in South Jersey, as nearly every big meet is held here. I had one invitational meet during high school here, where I think I swam in a couple of relays and maybe the 50
Germantown Academy-Germantown, PA-one of the two club meets I ever did was here. All I remember is going past my exit on the PA Turnpike and having to go another 10 miles down the road before there was another so I could turn around, and this was the only pool I've ever broken 1:00 in the 100yd freestyle because it was the last time I did that event in a meet, whereas I'm positive I could do it now, considering I've come within only a couple seconds in a workout, from a push, in a dragsuit, without a cap on. This meet was also the only time I have and will ever swim a 400yd IM. Nobody should ever do that. I don't know for certain, but I'm pretty confident that the drafters of the Bill of Rights had the 400 IM in mind when they wrote the 8th Amendment.
University of Delaware-Newark, DE-the other club meet I ever did, and my last swim meet I ever did as an age group swimmer. A few years later, in the fall of 2012, this was also one of the pools where we did some of the work for the USAT Northeast draft legal camp.
Coast Guard Academy-x2-New London, CT-There was the "big pool" in Roland Hall, the main 25-yd competition pool that I swam in a decent amount, including super-early tri team practices most of my senior year, but I actually have more nostalgia for the gutter-less, lane line-less, overchlorinated 20 yd pool in Billard Hall just next door, built sometime in the 1930s. My first couple years at USCGA, we had a few of times a week of semi-organized tri team practices there, where it was really just a lot of broscience type of stuff, as the real swimmers didn't come to those practices. As time wore on, we got better about figuring out when we could get into the main pool though, working around the swim team's schedules and eventually some of us would join them in their offseason workouts. I did swim for the swim team for about a week before I got cut during my freshman year. If I were back at USCGA now and had to do a swim workout, I might honestly choose Billard pool just for the sake of the good times we had there. Wait, no I wouldn't.
Subase Groton-Groton, CT-an indoor SCM pool at the Navy base in Groton, where I went more and more during my senior year at the academy because I finally had a car, and the schedule often worked out better at the Navy base across the river than at the academy itself. My main memories about this pool include learning that underwater speakers are useless if you're doing anything but maybe warmup/cooldown pace backstroke, which was fine because I went there a lot during Ke$ha's heyday, as well as hammering out repeat 300s with Jonas, which was our favorite interval at the time, though it's now possibly my least favorite.
YMCA Mt Laurel, NJ-I occasionally swam here when I was home during my time at USCGA
YMCA Burlington, NJ-same as the Mt Laurel YMCA, just different availability typically
Sports Center-Morehead City, NC (I think that was the name at least)-the gym that I had access to during my 1/c summer (between junior and senior year) as a cadet with the ship I was on. I swam there a few times and don't remember much else
East Lyme High School-East Lyme, CT-my first experience with masters swimming, having to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to drive 25 minutes a couple of days a week my senior year at the Academy, where I had to beg and plead to be able to do that. I think that's when I really started emphasizing the importance of the swim in a triathlon and realizing it was probably my strength if I allowed it to be
Rockledge High School-Rockledge, FL-I jumped in a masters practice here when I spent a few days in Cocoa Beach after racing in Clermont in March 2012. I thought it was hysterical that the coach was wearing more or less a ski jacket on deck because it was in the upper 50s.
Harvard University-Cambridge, MA-able to be set up any possible way, but I swam it as SCY. My one and only masters meet took place here, where I swam my to-this-day personal best in the 500 the day after going out in Boston on St. Patrick's Day, which is not nearly as cool as it sounds. If you want a similar experience to Boston on St. Paddy's Day, just go to an amusement park. Both have nothing but long lines and day drinking. If you want a ridiculous aquatic complex, go to Hahvahd
Rumor has it that simply swimming in the pool at Haaaaahvahd makes you wicked smaht. I don't believe it. I also couldn't find the scene from Angels & Demons to figure out whether it was legit or not.
Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Rec-Norfolk, VA-the first LCM pool I ever swam in that was set up that way, where I have done and still do a decent number of workouts on my own from time to time. It also used to be one of the sites where Tidewater Aquatics Club (my current masters team, aka TAC) practiced until just this past summer. It's possibly the slowest pool I've ever swam in, especially when they had us in the gutter lane for masters where I could breaststroke into the jet at the end and not move, like it was an Endless Pool.
Edora Pool and Ice Center-Fort Collins, CO-set up any way you want it basically, I've guest starred in a couple of FAST masters practices at various points when I've been in Fort Collins. Swimming at altitude was never as bad as I pictured it, except for hypoxic sets, which are terrible enough at sea level, so I pretty much blacked out any time I did them at 5,000+ ft
Naval Station Norfolk Waterfront Athletic Complex-Norfolk, VA-the Navy LOVES its indoor SCM pools, at least based on this one plus Groton. I've done a number of workouts here, but nothing special stands out in my mind. Like most Navy pools, you can expect to share a lane with a guy doing awful sidestroke because he'll tell you he's training for BUD/S when there's a less than 5% chance that he actually is
Old Dominion University-one of the nicest pools I've swam in, though always FREEZING. This used to be one of the places we practiced for TAC.
Portsmouth Naval Hospital-Portsmouth, VA-The pool we use for the fitness test for work sometimes. I maintain that there is no way it's actually an accurate 25yd pool because my 500 times never seem right, but that's what we call it. I've also tested a number of dry suits in this pool, and that's awful. Don't ever try to even scull in a drysuit, let alone swim.
Delaware Swim and Fitness-Pikes Creek, DE-one of the pools we used for the draft legal camp in the fall of 2012. This is a fun one because the lines don't line up, because they added a lane to the pool at one point.
Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown-Yorktown, VA-the pool that inspired this post because I'm currently at a school here, but I've also just swam here when I'm not at a school a couple of times, usually if I am up on the Peninsula on a weekend mountain biking, or coming back from Richmond or something. The weird thing about this pool is that it's 80 feet long, so 24.4 m/26.7 yds. I like to call it "short course metards" but it just makes for weird intervals where it's hard to make sense of it.
Colorado State-Fort Collins, CO-I actually only ever swam at the rec center pool, not the main competition pool. It's funny how much more crowded pools are in Colorado versus Virginia. The cool thing here is there's a giant hot tub to use when you're done
University of Arizona-Tucson, AZ-I got really excited because it was outside. I believe it's able to be set up LCM, but we swam it as SCY during a training camp in January 2013 with people from U of A, NAU, CSU, NMSU, and probably other schools I am forgetting
Even with black goggles, I couldn't swim backstroke at U of A's pool. I'm not really sure how you possibly can with that Arizona sun.
Eldorado Aquatic & Fitness Center-Scottsdale, AZ-ANOTHER outdoor pool :D I got my own workout in here before going out and watching/superfan-ing Collegiate Nationals in Tempe in 2013
Temescal Pool-Oakland, CA-a 100ft or 33 1/3 yd pool. I swam with a masters team out of here a couple of times while I was in Oakland for two weeks for work. It's REALLY weird trying to count yardage in your head in a pool of this length. It's also not very fun to run back and forth to a swim workout through less than nice parts of Oakland from your hotel with a wet speedo and goggles tucked into the waistband of your running shorts
Naval Base Ventura County Pt Mugu pool-Pt Mugu, CA-Where we swam as the Navy team the days before Armed Forces championships. It took me until halfway through my swim to figure out that it was a meter pool, not yards. That was an exciting revelation.
NSA Hampton Roads Northwest Annex-Chesapeake, VA-I'm pretty sure it was SCM, but it was outdoors. It's the only outdoor pool I had access to in the Va Beach area, so I drove close to an hour to get there. There wasn't a pace clock, so it was weird. It's really not a lap pool so much as a fun pool with a lap lane set aside, where children sometimes like to jump right behind you when you flipturn and you accidentally torpedo them. Whoops
You can see there was a child just playing in the lap lane. Changing my warmup to include butterfly took care of him quickly enough.
YMCA of Fond Du Lac, WI-A few days before and after Age Group Nationals, I got in a couple of workouts here too. It was really difficult not to play with the fish head in the kiddie pool and avoid the temptation of the slide
Virginia Wesleyan-Norfolk, VA-where TAC currently practices. Not the best air quality, really difficult to get to for 6pm practice on weekdays because it's surrounded in all directions by awful traffic...but it's where I do the vast majority of my swim training right now
Marriott Des Moines, IA-This wasn't quite a workout, so much as getting used to swimming in a swimskin the day before Hy-Vee. The pool was probably 15-20 yds long, and we were swimming around kids who were playing Marco Polo and still had their number tattoos on from the IronKids race that morning. There were lines on the bottom though, I swear!
Seatack Rec Center-Virginia Beach, VA-Only a mile or so away from my apartment, this has lately become where I do nearly every on-my-own swim workout because it's close. I resisted paying for a membership to the rec centers for over a year, then I added up how much it would save me in gas just driving to any of the base pools in Norfolk and it quickly made sense
Bayside Rec Center-Virginia Beach, VA-Another rec center a little farther away, and I only swam here once because Seatack was closed
Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex x2-Fort Lauderdale, FL-home to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which I failed to visit. However, I came here almost every day when I was on vacation with my family for Thanksgiving, as our hotel was less than a mile away. I went back and forth between swimming in the SCY and the LCM pools, just for fun. It wasn't a "beautiful" pool per se, as it's been around for quite some time, but it's the only pool that I'm aware of on this list that's had world records set in it.
Fort Lauderdale-speedo tans aplenty here. You're probably noticing that I like to take pictures of outdoor pools, yet not indoor pools. That's because indoor pools are no fun.
So I know I'm missing some, and this is but one list. I already know of a few times in the future of pools I'll swim at that aren't currently on this list because of travel and stuff like that. Then you add in the fact that I'll most likely be moving away from Virginia in 2015, and that probably adds at least one or two pools. I hope I don't have to be as polygamous of a swimmer as I have been here in Virginia, but at the same time, it's kind of neat. I didn't swim in college and even my high school/club swimming was fairly limited, so I can only imagine what a list like this would look like for somebody with more of a swim background than me. Like I said, to me, pools are the easiest thing to do this for, though I suppose I could try hard and come up with a list of cities I've ridden or run in, then maybe a little more drilled down by adding specific parks/tracks I've run, but that's 1. way harder, and 2. doesn't carry the same weight to me, probably because each pool leaves something special for me.

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