My friend and I decided to sign up for the Palm Springs swim meet on a whim. In 2022, we trained and competed in a three-day swim meet at the same pool. It was a lot of fun. Maybe because I hadn’t done an outdoor swim meet in years. The outdoor pool in Palm Springs is beautiful.
Last week, we thought signing up for another meeting would be fun. Between April 2022 and now, my friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and I started a new job, so we were very untrained. I think I have gone to the pool four times since Thanksgiving. But we were determined to have fun. I wasn’t concerned with time at all. My mentality was: a weekend trip to Palm Springs with some swimming.
The photos make it look warm but it was around 45 degrees for most of the swim meet. Luckily the pool was heated.
Since we signed up so late, my favorite event, the mile, was already filled. The event is anywhere from a 20-30 minute event, so there are only so many people they could take, and it was complete. Luckily, someone scratched, so I found out about 20 minutes before the event I could swim (it’s usually the first or last event so people can get to the meet late or leave early if they are not swimming…no fanfare…)
Because the mile was filled, I signed up for the 200/100/50. None are my favorite events, and I’m not a sprinter. But I wasn’t concerned. If the mile opened up, I would swim the mile and 200.
The day before, my husband and I drove down to Palm Springs. It’s about a 2.5-hour drive, and it was pretty uneventful. Palm Springs is where we picked up my new car, climbed Mt. Jacinto, and had the previous swim meet, so I’m familiar with the area. Palm Springs is also where my last car got stuck in a sandstorm and was nearly totaled because it needed $7500 worth of body damage repair. I am always mindful of the winds in that area just because that happens often. I digress.
I arrived early to the Palm Springs swim meet to see if I could swim the mile. I was rewarded, and I got a slot. I did about a 1000-yard warmup which was about 16 minutes and felt better than I thought. The few times I’ve swum recently, I’ve done between 3500-4500 yards (or 1-1:15 hours of swimming). I knew I would probably be close to 4500-5000 yards at the swim meet. I haven’t swum “hard” in months.
I didn’t want an old seed time for the mile and be stuck in a heat much faster than me so I settled on 24 minutes. I didn’t have a basis for the guess, but I figured 2 minutes slower than the previous meet was a decent guess.
Since many people who read my blog aren’t familiar with swimming, the pool mile is 66 lengths (33 laps) or 1650 yards. There are counters for you, so you don’t have to worry about counting that high (for any event, 500+).
As I dove in, I didn’t know what to expect. When I swim laps, I don’t just swim for an hour without stopping. I take breaks, do different workouts, etc. While I knew I could finish a mile, I didn’t want to be in pain or take it out too fast. Granted I often deal with wind at the outdoor pool, I don’t usually swim any faster than a 1:40 pace per 100 pace right now so didn’t know what my fast pace is. 66 lengths is a long way to go when you’ve taken the race out too fast and are fading (like running a 5k).
I usually break 1650 up into four parts: 3X500 and a bonus of 150. Lengths 41-53 are usually the hardest mentally. I probably started a little too fast but found my pace around length 9. The person next to me, ended up winning the heat. At first, I was pacing off of him, but I wasn’t sure if that was going to be a good idea and if I could handle that in another 50 lengths, so I backed off.
The race went by reasonably fast. In the pool, you can tell where people are around you, but you don’t have a good sense of your time. I could tell I wasn’t in first or last but somewhere in the middle.
Around lap 40, my arms were feeling it. I was tired. But I knew I just had 25 lengths to go. At the last 150, I tried to push as hard as possible. I was tired, but who isn’t after swimming that far? I ended up swimming a 23:38, which I was pleased with. I thought it took around 24 minutes, and I was pretty close.
After swimming the mile, I wasn’t too motivated to swim anything else. The mile was my favorite event; I was already sore and swam more than usual. But I was signed up for the 200, so I figured it would be fun to stay. My only goal was to average faster than my mile time. The mile averaged 1:26 per 100 yds, so I wanted to swim faster than 2:52 in the 200. My seed time from the previous meet was 2:34, and I thought: no way I am doing that.
I had about 2 hours between the mile and the 200. I swam some more warmup in between and then mostly chilled. My start for the 200 was pretty good. In the shorter events, every second matters (like track, really). You want to have a good start and streamline underwater. I had decent both, and once I dove in, I felt pretty good. In fact, I felt better than the mile.
My first 100 was around 1:16. As I pushed off for lap 3, I knew it would be the hardest. I just tried to maintain the pace as best I could. The last lap ended up being a sprint against myself and another woman. She out-touched me, but I was surprised my time was 2:36.
In all, it was a great time at the meet. I’m glad I went and did something other than running. It can be easy to be laser-focused on marathon training, but it’s essential to do other things and enjoy your life.
You can see more race recaps here.
Questions for you:
Have you competed in a swim meet?
What is your favorite hobby outside of running?