Where has the time gone? So much has happened since visiting Montreal and competing in the FINA Masters Swimming World Championships in early August! After World’s, we visited Quebec City for a few days of sightseeing and then flew back to the States to compete in the U.S. Masters Swimming National Championships. Next, it was time to gear back up to compete in the Southside Seals Pentathlon on September 13 where I competed in my first Ironman. Nothing like racing a 400 Individual Medley, 200 Freestyle, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Backstroke, and 200 Butterfly (saving the hardest for last) in just over two hours! Then, on September 19, I raced a full slate in the Georgia Senior Golden Olympics so I could qualify for Nationals that will take place in the Twin Cities in July 2015. My race times were slow; however, competition was light, so I ended up with two gold and three silver medals.


Our travels are still on my mind as wonderful memories, though, so I thought I would share some of them with you.

Back in Montreal, Day 2 of competition at World’s didn’t include any of my race events, so it was a day off for me. Most swimmers would choose to relax and stay off their feet given that opportunity; however, we wanted to see Montreal and it was important to me to make this an enjoyable trip for Bruce as well.

Our day off from the pool started with a Metro ride to the Marche Jean-Talon, a wonderful market that was so much more than just produce stalls. It was an experience.






Most of the remainder of the day was spent exploring the streets of Old Montreal where it felt like being back in France. From the architecture dating back to the 1600’s to the horse-drawn carriages, it was hard to believe we were still in North America. The gas lamps, flower baskets, sidewalk cafes and French-speaking locals gave Old Montreal even more of a French feel to transport me back in my mind to France.



Riding the Metro trains around Montreal was an efficient way to see the city, and swimmers were given a free 9-day pass to see the sights. Family members were sold passes at an excellent discount, so Bruce and I took advantage of it throughout our nine-day visit. The condo we rented through was located downtown just a couple of blocks from a Metro station, so it was very convenient. Since the Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex was located at one of the Metro stops, we used Metro for getting to and from the pool each day of competition.

Everywhere we went around the city, we saw other swimmers and their families wearing their World Championships credentials around their necks. It was to be
expected given the 9,000 athletes in town for the five Masters aquatic events, including swimming, open water swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo.

What I didn’t expect, though, was to run into my own teammate on a crowded train during our day away from the pool sightseeing! On our way back to the condo, we were just about to board a train when I noticed that some of the cars were more packed than others. We made a quick decision to run up ahead to board a less-crowded train, and there was Ed Saltzman, Georgia Masters team relay coordinator, standing at the car door with a grin on his face. Ed had all of the team’s t-shirts with him, so he quickly dug through his backpack trying to locate mine. Wait! “What station are you getting off at, Ed?” When we realized we were hopping off at the same one, we breathed a sigh of relief and took care of business in the station instead. What a fun way to end our first day of sightseeing in Montreal!


The view from our condo in downtown Montreal

The view from our condo in downtown Montreal


This post was written following my final race at U.S. Masters Swimming Nationals in Maryland.  We are now home, so once I get caught up with more important things, I will write about Montreal, Quebec City, Baltimore, and Alexandria.  Stay tuned!

After having way too much fun seeing sightseeing in Montreal in between my races at the 2014 Masters Swimming World Championships (and again in Quebec City), I made the decision to get down to business when I arrived in Maryland.


U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championships at University of Maryland


At the beginning of U.S. Masters Swimming Long Course National Championships, my body was depleted and I was sure I had completely blown my taper. Still, I thought I would do my best to rest up and prepare to race.

We had seen Washington, D.C. two years ago, and our plans were to see Baltimore after the completion of Nationals. We’ll also be back in the region next year when we spend six weeks touring the northeast in our car.

Besides, Bruce was also exhausted, and he was perfectly happy taking long naps in between our time at the pool.

My first race was the 200 Meter Butterfly. Although my time was faster than in Montreal, I was told I was disqualified for an “alternating kick.” WHAT? I had never been DQ’d in my life, and I was sure I had swum the race clean. Slow, but clean.

As it turned out, I was just one of five women in that event who got DQ’d by the same judge. After looking at the video Bruce shot of my race and seeing my feet practically glued together throughout the race, I was completely baffled. I sent my video to the chief official who happens to also be my teammate to ask for advice. Knowing I had the 400 Individual Medley the next morning, I feared getting another “DQ” next to my name in the results and missing out on a potential medal opportunity.

Ed wrote back, “Don’t change a thing.” Huhhh? Surely, he wouldn’t want me to receive another DQ!

At the pool the following day, after a horrible fitful night of sleep, I raced the 400 IM and earned a medal. Woo Hoo! I had still felt quite tired, so my time was much slower than I had raced that event in the past, but at least it was faster than in Montreal.

After collecting my medal and interviewing my adorable 98 year-old teammate, Anne Dunivin, for a team newsletter article, I headed to the locker room. It was there that I learned my name had been announced on the P.A. to report to the official’s desk. Uh-oh! What did I do this time? Did I get DQ’d in my race and the officials neglected to tell me when I exited the pool? Would I be asked to return my medal? Gulp.


Anne Dunivin, age 98

When I reported to the desk, Jim Carey said he needed to speak with me in private. He had a very serious look on his face as he escorted me to an office and shut the door behind us. GULP!

What came next was completely unexpected. Jim offered a sincere apology for the “inappropriate” DQ and told me that not only would my DQ be overturned, the other four DQ’s were being overturned as well. In addition, Ms. DQ was being relieved from her officiating duties on deck.

I was sent on my way with good luck wishes, a hug, and a souvenir photo I took of Jim wanting to remember the official who broke the good news. Vindication! My clean swim record remained intact.

That next day, I felt more rested, and I swam the best breaststroke relay split in two years during the following day’s team relay. Things were looking up!

That night, I did a 10-hour crash and burn. Finally, I felt well-rested and ready to race my best in the 200 Meter Breaststroke. I knew I would win a medal if I placed 2nd in my heat, and I was determined to do so.

Getting up on the blocks, I hummed my re-written them song, “Aqua Dog,” sung to the tune of “Aqua Lung,” by Jethro Tull. (See my previous post on this completely lame attempt at songwriting!) I felt good, and I was ready to conquer my previous demons with this event. It used to me my most difficult event to race—that is, before I took on the 200 Butterfly and 400 IM.

During the race, I thought about the advice I had been given by my teammate, Dale Alton. I resisted the urge to let adrenaline get the best of me and take my first 50 out to fast. I was patient, and I felt strong. Surprisingly, I kept feeling strong throughout the second 50 meters and after the turn during the third 50. Usually at this point my body starts protesting to the point where I lose all strength in my legs and shoulders. Perhaps I hadn’t completely blown my taper after all!


A special thanks to Florian Galan for capturing me in action.

As I raced that third 50, I could see the swimmer in the neighboring lane up ahead. I was determined to run her down, because I had no idea where the other swimmers were around us. I knew I had to place 2nd to medal, so only one could beat me.

I closed the gap going into the third turn and amazingly enough had enough strength to attempt a “sprint” in the last 50. I increased my turnover rate, dug deep, and gave it all I had.

Although I was unable to catch the gal in the next lane (she beat by 4 seconds), I swam the best 200 breaststroke race of my life. No matter the results, I felt a sense of pride as I looked up at the results. Seeing a “2” next to my name meant a well-earned medal.

As I exited the pool, I realized I had never looked at my time. All I wanted to confirm was that I had indeed beat the other competitors around me and the winner; but, I also was curious if my time had beaten my Worlds time and perhaps even my seed time from my June long course meet in Athens.

What I heard next SHOCKED me. The first number of my time was “3” which meant I beat my seed time by at least six seconds. The other numbers were even better. I ended up with a time of 3:54.47; 12 seconds faster than my seed time (my race time at UGA in last June) and 14 seconds faster than at Worlds. In addition, it was the best 200 Meter Breaststroke time EVER!



Florian took this photo of me as well. I was one happy camper!

For more photos of the 2014 USMS Summer National Championships, go to:


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.


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!

02 31

32Although 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.

The warm-up pool:  8 lanes for 5,868 swimmers!  It got much more crowded thant this...

The warm-up pool: 8 lanes for 5,868 swimmers! It got much more crowded thant this…

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!

Hanging out under the tent with Bruce, a couple of teammates, and my discussion forums buddy "King Frog" (aka Allen Stark).  At the meet, Allen broke the world record in his age group for 200 breaststroke!

Hanging out under the tent with Bruce, a couple of teammates, and my discussion forums buddy “King Frog” (aka Allen Stark). At the meet, Allen broke the world record in his age group for 200 breaststroke!


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 as can see in the photos below:

Andreas and I traded caps from Berlin and Auburn University

Andreas and I traded caps from Berlin and Auburn University

My Canadian cap trading partner

My Canadian cap trading partner


This swimmer was from Costa Rica


Damian, from Team Hong Kong


My new Chinese friend was out of team caps; however, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on my USMS cap (which I got for free at Nationals) in exchange for the official World Championships cap he had just purchased at the Speedo store for $11.99.


Yes, he’s Italian!


And, she is from Brazil


I was so happy to make a trade for an Australian cap after having spent so much time in her country over the years!


When I told Peter (next to me) that I loved his home town of Prague, he didn’t want to trade caps. Instead, he wanted to just GIVE me his competition cap as a gift! I insisted on giving him a U.S. Masters cap as a gift, too.


I keep a very limited presence on Facebook under an alias; however, I found it necessary to keep tabs on Team U.S.A.’s World’s page to get updates we weren’t receiving otherwise. In the process, I got to know Andy, a Canadian who graciously provided a lot of tourist information to us Americans, so we would enjoy our time in Montreal. I was so excited when I finally caught up with Andy and his wife on relay day. We even ended up swimming in the same heat of one of the two relays I competed in that day.

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!

Some of my Georgia Masters teammates with Tim Waud, Team U.S.A. Head Coach

Some of my Georgia Masters teammates with Tim Waud, Team U.S.A. Head Coach

Georgia Masters teammates at World's

Georgia Masters teammates at World’s


Marianne Countryman


Bruce and I visited the Biosphere, scene in the background of the warm-up pool at the beginning of this post. Over my shoulder is a view down to the main competition pool at the Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex.

For more photos from World’s, check out my album at:


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:

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


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,


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


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.


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


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. :)


The following photos show the conclusion of the 3K race:



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.


The new issue of Kitchen Drawer is out and available here:
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 .

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!


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:

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!



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

My surgeon, Dr. Richard Braun

My surgeon, Dr. Richard Braun



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.

20140502_153048 P1110819-Resized

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!