There can be a lot of drama at a masters swim practice. Those of you who regularly participate with a masters team know what I mean... There may be someone there who you just don't click with for a variety of reasons... other swimmers who annoy you because they don't know how to pace themselves or because of their insistence on using floatation devices like pull buoys or paddles or fins to keep up the pace or make the interval... and then there are always those who always have an excuse about why they're not swimming faster... the list goes on.
I feel really lucky in that I have found a couple of friends who I swim with regularly... with no drama. It's perfect because we are all of similar ability, we all understand pace, and know the difference between an easy effort, a moderate effort, and a hard effort. And though we are competitive people by nature, we don't race each other to the wall on every interval. Our training sessions in the pool are not opportunities to prove who is the fastest swimmer on the day. They are simply opportunities for us each to push ourselves and each other to reach a higher level than we would be able to achieve on our own.
And you know what? It's free.
Isn't that awesome? Long course outdoor pools in Hawaii are numerous. And free.
Of course, half the time the heater is broken so the water is freezing. But that's really only in the winter. At least we're not stuck swimming inside. No lane lines make the water really rough, but that just makes us better at open water swimming. There are no pace clocks to be found on deck, but that is easily remedied with a Timex watch.
I'm so lucky that I happen to live about a mile away from one of these pools. I didn't plan it that way. In fact, when I bought this condo 4+ years ago I thought the closest pool was a 20 minute drive. Then I remember being out on a run one day, exploring my new 'hood, when I saw it. Like an oasis. I yelped out loud with glee.
And then over the years I've managed to find these great athletes to train with. Bob and Nalani both have jobs that would allow them to swim at noon, but they drag themselves out of bed three times a week to be in the water when the pool opens at 7 AM with me since I can't go at noon anymore. We don't have a coach on deck telling us the set, but instead we trade off making up sets to push ourselves. Fridays have become Fartlek Fridays... we love this... swim a 1000 straight where the first 250 is moderate, the next 250 goes 50 blast fast followed by 50 recovery, then another 250 moderate and another 250 with the alternating 50's sprint. It's great to be able to vary pace like we do in that set, and fun to watch yourself get more fit- as evidenced by the pace on the recovery part. Used to be I'd have to go very slow to recover from the fast 50's, but now I can recover without having to resort to just barely floating.
We do feel bad for some of the old ladies who are also trying to get in their morning swim... The three of us create a sort of tsunami in this lane-line-less pool when we're working hard and the frail little Asian women can get overwhelmed by the wall of water. Most of them migrate to the other side of the pool when they see us coming.
Running home from the workout this morning I reminded myself not to take these swimming friends for granted. I am lucky to have this awesome (No Drama) situation that facilitates me being the best swimmer I can be.