MY FAVORITE RACE MEMORY AT WORLD’S

Our week in Montreal was a whirl wind of activity and excitement even in our down time between competition and sightseeing. The head coach for the Americans had started a Facebook page before the world championships began, so I found myself spending more time than I had intended sifting through the posts for any helpful information. Between intel being shared there and on the U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums, and keeping up with e-mails, additional blog posts never got written.

I try to keep a very limited presence on Facebook but find it necessary to be on that site to keep up with swim team and meet information. In the case of Worlds, it was a must due to FINA (the world governing body of the five aquatic sports represented at the world championships) falling down on the job. Without getting into details as to why it was necessary, trust me when I say how crucial it was that the competitors and coaches themselves stepped in to help each other out.

The swimmers and coaches are what made the entire experience a fabulous one for me. The memories I will take away from the meet and our time in Canada are ones I will always cherish and hope never to forget.

In the pool, my race times were very forgettable. Bruce and I had way too much fun seeing the city of Montreal in between competition to be well-rested to race at my best! There was one race, however, that was special.

Most of the time when I race, I am unaware of where the other competitors are in the pool until after I hit the timing pad at the end. I put my head down during my race and just focus on my stroke and where I should be at any given moment.

During my 200 breaststroke race, however, the French swimmer in the adjacent lane was constantly in my peripheral vision, and we were matching each other stroke for stroke. I tried ignoring her, but as I focused on my stroke cadence, she was always right beside me.

After the final turn, I tried to shake her knowing it was time to go all out and sprint for the wall. Still, she was right beside me.

In the final 20 meters, I knew there was no way I was going to let her pass me after the fight I had put up over the past 180 meters. I dug as deep as I could to muster up what was left in my tank and sprinted to the finish, increasing my stroke rate the best I could. I had no strength left at that point in the race, so quickening my stroke rate was what I believed would make the difference.

It appeared in my peripheral vision as if we both touched the pads at the same time. Neither of us could see the electronic time board due to tents blocking our vision, so we didn’t know the results. We knew we came in 3rd and 4th in our heat, because the other gals were still racing after we touched the wall; however, they were in the next older age group, so they didn’t matter to us in the results. (There will be a combined heat when it is necessary to fill the 10-lane pool to keep the meet running more efficiently and faster.)

After exiting the pool, the French gal and I gave each other a high-five and a hug, congratulating each other on a great race– she in French and me in English. We didn’t speak each other’s language; however, we both knew exactly what the other was saying: “You pushed me to swim faster and harder than I thought I could push myself to swim during that race. Thank you.”

Not having access to our official race times (the timers at each lane are only there for back-up in case the electronic system fails), we left the pool only knowing that we had given each other one heck of a race, and I had just touched her out.

It wasn’t until I saw the official results that evening that I learned that less than a quarter of a second had separated us at the finish, and we were the last two finishers in our age group.

It didn’t matter, because I had the race of my life, and if the smile on my French competitor was any indication, I’ll bet she had the race of her life, too.

2014 FINA MASTERS SWIMMING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN MONTREAL

When I left competitive swimming after high school, I never thought I would ever compete again, especially in any sort of national competition. Fast forward to 2010 when I joined U.S. Masters Swimming and entered Spring Nationals, because it was just up the freeway at Georgia Tech. Since then, I have swum at several Nationals, from Greensboro, North Carolina to Mission Viejo, California. Those experiences were huge for me, way beyond what I had ever dreamed of doing with my swimming. Now, here it is, four years into my Masters swimming “career,” and I am in Montreal, Canada competing at the 2014 FINA Masters World Championship!

Although it sounds impressive, the qualifying times for the Masters World Championships are actually slower than U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) national qualifying times. I qualified in every event except for one; whereas, this year I didn’t make qualifying times for Nationals. Since non-qualifiers still get to compete in three events (rather than six) at USMS Nationals, we’ll be heading to Maryland after Worlds and a few days of sightseeing in Quebec City.

I may be in the lowest 20% in my age group here at Worlds, but I’m so happy to be able to be here to compete. How fortunate the swim meet is just up north and located in one of the two Canadian cities on my bucket list (Quebec City being the other)! Last year it was in Italy, and next year it will take place in Russia.
Here in Montreal, there are 1,500 Americans competing in a group of 5,868 swimmers from 93 countries. In all, there are 9,000 athletes competing in Masters swimming, open water swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo.

The aquatic complex is a beehive of activity; tanned and (mostly) fit wet bodies ages 25 to 97 have completely taken over the Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex. It’s insane! What a scene, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it.

Although FINA, the international governing body of five aquatic sports, has done a poor job of running this meet (the complaints are wide and universal amongst the international swimmers), it hasn’t dampened the spirit around the pools. The excitement and enthusiasm is contagious; I can’t think of a better place to people watch! It is really quite a festive atmosphere, seeing a bunch of fit swimmers in their racing suits, smiles on their faces, laughing, giving each other hugs and high-fives.

Under the big tent by the main competition pool, it’s one big international social scene. Teams gather in clusters, swimmers spread out their towels, and they sprawl out all over the place leaving no path to walk. (Thanks to FINA and the facility not supplying chairs.) To get from the warm-up pool to the marshaling zone where swimmers line up for their races, it’s an obstacle course. I’ve gotten pretty good at hopscotch!

It’s a festive atmosphere with many different languages being spoken and many excited conversations going on at once. In addition to swimming talk amongst teammates, another “sport” is taking place between swimmers of different countries: trading swim caps, t-shirts, and pins. I got in on that action and will include a photo of my bounty (and other photos) in a future post.

As for the actual racing, it has been exciting to see several of my teammates and U.S. Masters friends win some impressive hardware, including gold, silver, and bronze medals. Since I am not anywhere near that caliber of swimmer, I’m just happy to be able to be here and race. I’m having a blast!

FULL CIRCLE WITH A HAPPY ENDING

In 1995, I read written by Karla Peterson in the San Diego Union-Tribune that inspired me over all these years. This past spring I wrote an article about it for Kitchen Drawer and included it in my blog on May 15.

On the same day, I also wrote this letter to Karla Peterson:

“Dear Ms. Peterson,

Something you wrote back in 1995 has continued to inspire me ever since.

I hope you will take just a few minutes to read an article I wrote for a local magazine in Georgia. (I no longer live in San Diego; however, I lived there for 24 years and also graduated from San Diego State University.)

In the article, I mention you:

http://elaineiakstravels.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/believing-in-your-dreams/

Thank you for your terrific writing. When I lived in San Diego, I always read your articles.

Cheers!

Elaine Krugman

As the weeks went by, I forgot about writing to Karla– until this morning when I received this wonderful response:
“Hello Elaine:

I can’t begin to thank you enough for your wonderful note. I am so sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I was so touched, I kept waiting for the perfect moment that would give me the time to write you the perfect response. That moment never came, so I am taking the plunge now (at 6 a.m. With my cat in my lap) to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story with me after all these years.

It is clear from the piece you wrote that the credit for your recovery belongs to you! I was very moved by your strength and determination. Whatever small part my words might have played, you are still the one who took them and ran with them. That is all you.

So thank you for reaching out and for making me feel so special. And congratulations on making such a wonderful life for yourself! That is no small thing.

All the best,

Karla”

After 19 years, “Believing In Your Dreams…” has gone full circle with a happy ending!

NO WALLS, NO BLACK LINES, AND NO LANE LINES- WOOHOO!

Ever since tackling my first open water race at the 2012 Georgia Games Open Water Meet, I’ve been hooked on racing in open water. Although it’s not as challenging as swimming in real open water like I used to swim in as a kid back in California, it’s still a greater challenge than racing in a pool. After all, the pool provides the security of lane lines separating each swimmer, and the visibility is perfect. Just follow the black line!

At Lake Allatoona, all I could see was my own arm out in front of me. Beyond my fingertips, I couldn’t see anything, including the bottom. At an estimated 84 degrees, the water was also much warmer than the cool 78 of a competition pool.

Seeing the buoys was also a challenge, because there were some blind curves of the land separating the 1K buoys from the 3K buoys which meant waiting until I swam around the point before sighting the next buoys I needed to turn around before heading back towards the finish line. Besides, it was so humid this morning that my goggles fogged up even after preparing them with anti-fog spray!

Don’t mistake these as complaints, though, because I couldn’t have been happier than when I was racing those 3K and 1K races today. As a matter of fact, as I was running up to the finish line of the 1K race, I said to myself, “Oh, bummer! This is about to end and I don’t want it to be over!”

I was truly in my element today and very happy with the results! Coming in at :49.35, I took about 12 minutes off my 2012 3K time. According to Rob Copeland who set the buoys, he said the two courses were accurate 3K’s. (Last year, everybody came in much slower, and Rob admitted the 3K course was longer than a 3K. At 1:17 for my 2013 3K time, I would have to agree!).

Although I was pleased with my 1K swim as well, I believe I came in slightly slower than 2012, but much faster than 2013. I’m not sure of my time today, because I saw the clock several seconds after I crossed the line. It was at about 20 minutes, but I’ll have to check the official results when they get posted.

Today’s fun was capped off with two silver medals to show for my efforts! The 3K gold medalist beat me by about three minutes, so I know I couldn’t have won. In the 1K, you can see from this photo that I didn’t lose by much. Pam McClure (in front) beat me by a relatively small margin; however, she swam the 1K fresh having passed on the 3K.

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My buddy, Mark Rogers did great today. He beat me in both the 3K and 1K, and he earned a silver and gold!

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One surprise today was running into a member of Sun City Peachtree’s Board of Directors, Ted Turner. As it turns out, he also won a silver medal in the 3K, but I happily beat him by around five minutes. :)

ElaineKrugman,TedTurner

The following photos show the conclusion of the 3K race:
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What a blast! Can I go back and do it again? Oh well, it’s time to turn my focus back to the pool to finish preparing for the 2014 FINA Masters Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada. After I finish on August 8, we’ll head to Quebec City for a few days before flying to Maryland for the 2014 USMS Summer Nationals at the University of Maryland.

In between competing and sight seeing, I plan to write when time permits. Stay tuned for more blog posts to come! (If you don’t see any posts before our return, they will be posted shortly thereafter!)

EDIT: Times are posted, and I came in 33rd overall of the 81 men and women who competed in the 3K race. In my age group, I came in 2nd of 7 women, and my time was 0:49:35.49. I also beat out 20 of the 33 women who were in younger age groups.

In the 1K, I came in 21st out of 69 swimmers, and I beat out 13 of the 22 younger women. My 0:20:13.39 time was four seconds out of first, but 2nd place of six women in my age group.

…BUT, NOT A PROFESSIONAL SONGWRITER!

The new issue of Kitchen Drawer is out and available here: http://issuu.com/kitchendrawer/docs/6_4_final
In this issue, I write about Susie and Zack Whatley (Page 50) and Laura DuBose (Page 59).

Would you like to receive Kitchen Drawer digitally on a regular basis? Make sure to subscribe at http://www.kitchendrawer.net/pages/subscribe .

Meanwhile, I thought I would make an attempt at re-writing my swimming anthem, “Aqualung,” by Jethro Tull. You will soon come to the conclusion that I am NO songwriter (nor do I ever hope to be)! This is just something I had to do for this song, though, in honor of my husband, Bruce who dutifully hums “Aqualung” before I race. You see, he calls me “Aquadog.” As a competitive swimmer, the nickname stuck and the song gets me psyched up!

So, que up “Aqualung” on YouTube and sing these words to the tune, instead:

Standing on the starting block–
psyched up for the race with good intent.
Crouching down the whistle blows–
exploding from the blocks off I go!
Hey Aquadog

Racing hard with all my might–
my flying arms are quite a sight!
Hey Aquadog

Feeling lactate in my blood–
I hope I don’t finish this race with a thud!
Whoa, Aquadog

Oh, I’m feeling old–
my arms slowing and struggling.
Getting through
the only way I know.
Arms hurting bad,
as I try to finish this race–
I dig down deep
my heart wants to succeed.

Feeling alone–
other racers are up ahead
if I’m to finish strong
it’s going to be all up to me.

Aquadog I am–
I will fight, not give up easy.
I may be slow, but
I’ll achieve, you’ll see.

I still remember
how fast I used to be–
when I swam faster butterfly,
back and breast, and even free.

“The older I get the faster I was”
that is my motto now,
but nothing is going to stop me,
my passion is swimming.

Oh, I’m feeling old–
my arms slowing and struggling.
Getting through
the only way I know.
Arms hurting bad,
as I try to finish this race–
I dig down deep
my heart wants to succeed.

Feeling alone–
other racers are up ahead
if I’m to finish strong
it’s going to be all up to me.

Aquadog I am–
I will fight, not give up easy.
I may be slow, but
I’ll achieve, you’ll see.

Aquadog I am–
I will fight, not give up easy.
I may be slow, but
I’ll achieve, you’ll see.

Standing on the starting block–
psyched up for the race with good intent.
Crouching down the whistle blows–
exploding from the blocks off I go.
Hey Aquadog

Racing hard with all my might
My flying arms are quite a sight!
Hey Aquadog

Feeling lactate in my blood–
I hope I don’t finish this race with a thud!
Whoa, Aquadog

Whoa, Aquadog!

BELIEVING IN YOUR DREAMS

Kitchen Drawer is a very cool (“Free to a good home”) magazine based in Griffin, Georgia. I started writing artist profiles for the magazine last year, and my first one appeared in the November/December issue. In addition to my artist profile in the current issue (Volume 6 Issue 3), another article I wrote was published. Check it out here: http://issuu.com/kitchendrawer/docs/6_3_final?e=0/8465165

Thanks to Betsy Harris, my writing mentor/editor/friend who encouraged me to submit this article. Allison Smyly and her staff at Kitchen Drawer get a big thanks for choosing to publish it! Finally, the biggest thanks of all goes out to my husband, Bruce Cook who always patiently honors my request to photograph and/or video my races. I love you!

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These are photos Bruce shot that didn’t make the cut:

My surgeon, Dr. Richard Braun

My surgeon, Dr. Richard Braun

ElaineKrugman

MY SWIMMING TWIN?

My swimming buddy, Debbie Duane is at USMS Spring Nationals and found my swimming twin! I’m not so sure she really looks like my twin; however, I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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We do have similarities that make me smile. Deb says Michal has a “bubbly personality” like me, and she is also a breaststroker in the 50-54 year old age group. Cool!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet my twin in person. I passed on attending Spring Nationals in Santa Clara, California in favor of spending my travel budget this summer. I will be competing in Montreal at Masters World Championships as well as USMS Summer Nationals at University of Maryland. There are a few days in between the two competitions, so we will be taking the train from Montreal to Quebec City to see the old city. From there, we will fly to Washington, D.C. and drive to College Park, Maryland for Nationals.

Meanwhile, today I competed at the Gwinnett County Senior Games. The good news is that I won six gold medals! The bad news is that I was the only competitor in my age group. I was the baby geezer at the pool!
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IT WAS GREAT WHILE IT LASTED

2012 Georgia Championship Series Award

2012 Georgia Championship Series Award

2013 Georgia Championship Series Award

2013 Georgia Championship Series Award

For the second year in a row, I won the Georgia Championship Series for my age group. This series is a United States Masters Swimming year-long competition that takes place in the state of Georgia. The trophy is awarded to the swimmer in each age group with the most accumulated points in a designated short course yards (25-yard pool) swim meet, long course meters (50-meter pool) meet, open water competition, and short course meters (25-meter pool) meet. To qualify, a swimmer has to participate in at least three of those four competitions throughout the year.

By no means am I the fastest swimmer in my age group. The way I win is by competing at all four events, swimming the maximum amount of races allowed at the pool meets, and racing the hardest events that most women my age would never attempt. Last year, only 16 women in the country in the 50-54 year old age group competed in the 200 meter long course butterfly, and 24 raced the 400 meter individual medley.

At the open water competition, I raced the 3K and 1K back-to-back both years and discovered how much I really enjoy swimming long distance events!

The Lotto motto is, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” My motto is, “You can’t win if you don’t show up!” Of course, for me, I also can’t win unless I race all of the difficult events that nobody else wants to swim. How else do you think I win 1st places in those tough events? I’m the only one in my age group crazy enough to race them!

I’m not that slow; however, there are a couple of my teammates who are Top Ten swimmers in the country. The gal who won high points at the first 2014 Georgia Championship Series meet is #1 in the country and used to swim for UGA (University of Georgia). At least I beat out the other three gals to place second for the meet.

Winning two years in a row was a combination of hard work, motivation, endurance, having tons of fun, and being lucky enough that the faster gals didn’t show up to all of the meets. This year, it looks like Ms. #1 is planning on competing at every meet—including the open water competition. Oh well, she’s a super nice gal and an awesomely fast swimmer.

It was great while it lasted!

SNOWPOCALYPSE AT “SUN” CITY PEACHTREE, GRIFFIN GEORGIA

For a town that averages two inches of snow per year and had no snow in 2013, this has been quite a frosty year!

We were housebound yesterday from an ice storm that caused thousands to lose power to their homes. Thankfully, our utilities are underground, so we stayed warm and toasty.

This was the scene this morning:
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