I was lucky to have a day off after my first day of racing, an unusual thing for me in multi-day competitions. We took the opportunity to go to see lake Bled using one of the competitions shuttles. As soon as we saw the amazing water I started to regret not entering the open water swim, just to have an excuse to swim in there. I had to be careful not to overdo things at Bled, but I was still able to make it up to the castle and see most of the lake.
I had originally entered the 400m freestyle to see how fast I could go at the event when peaked, and because I figured I could get a pretty decent ranking in it. Similar to the 200m I hoped to get top 25 maybe even top 20. I had stopped racing the event after London because I was tired of training and racing it, it was getting a bit tedious. My first three races in this event last season were ok, I had gotten a small PB in short course on the first one. I then had two disastrous races where I got my pacing all wrong. I wasn’t enjoying the event and decided to add an event that I do enjoy, the 200m IM. I enjoy this event, not because I’m any good at it, I just enjoy training and racing the different strokes. It was only when the start lists were released that I noticed two things: the events looked a lot closer than I had expected (I thought there was an event between them), and I was going into the event ranked 9th with my new-found American friend ranked 8th and in the same heat as me. This is significant as the first 8 swimmers all get a certificate with their name, time and rank on it. So, I had to wonder if I would pull out of the 200m IM, take it easy, or go all out of it and hope that I recover in time for the 400. As the competition got closer and we were told that there would be a lunch break before the 400, and an hour or two of heats I decided to go for the last option. I had figured I would be able to recover in time, and to be honest I’m just that kind of swimmer. I have to attack and do my best in an event.
The 200 IM
For the fly leg of my 200m IM I had planned on going “comfortable fast” and used a different version of fly compared to the first 50 of my 100. I’ve been working on it for well over a year. I felt good, but at 30m I began to wonder if I wasn’t going too fast. At 45m I began to suspect I might have, but I transitioned to backstroke and….. got the sun in my eyes. I have great difficulty keeping a line when indoors in a strange pool, so I had an idea what would happen in an outdoor one. Halfway through I hit the lane and figured that if I at least stay here I won’t wander and add any more meters to my swim. This seemed to go well until I passed under some rope that was across the pool. The problem was this rope should have been perpendicular to me, or at least I thought it should, so I changed my direction a little. Thankfully I was near the end of the length because I think I crossed back and slightly over the center. I have been practicing and using the modern back to breast turn, but I haven’t had much time to use it with flags and because I don’t usually swim long course my rhythm seems to be a little off so I’m not 100% sure which arm is going to hit. In the end I went with my old reliable suicide turn which worked fantastically well.
The breaststroke leg is where things usually come unstuck for me. I have been working hard to not just change my technique, but also change how I swim that leg. As someone that really struggles with the stroke there is a temptation to ease off on that leg or allow my hips to sink. Despite being tired I did as best I could, I still need more work, but at least my split was a lot faster this time than last time I swam this event. On the freestyle I just did my usual and pushed as hard as I could to the end. When I saw my splits it turns out that my fly leg was a lot faster than I had expected, 2-3 seconds faster than what I had aimed for, one second off my old short course PB (I haven’t raced it in years) Funnily enough it was also the same speed as the first 50 of my 200 free, which I had thought was too fast in that race too. I was delighted with my time, a new PB, 5 seconds faster than my time in London and I jumped from one of the slowest entries to 21st. I don’t remember my time in this event as a teen, but it is roughly around this time, of course everything was short course back then.
The 400 Free
I had plenty of time to do a cool down, relax and recover before my 400m. I was a bit disappointed with the way this swim was run. It was two people per lane, which we were warned about before the gala. Now, in London when this happened swimmers starting at one end of the pool were given white arena silicone hats and swimmers at the other end were given blue arena silicone hats (arena being the competition sponsors). We were then told to keep these hats as a gift from the event. However, in Slovenia they were handing out TYR latex hats and asking us to hand them back at the end of the race for another heat. So those of us not in the first heat were being given used hats. Thankfully those of us with our own white hats were allowed to keep them, so I wore the Irish team hat for the first and only time in the competition. I didn’t wear it in other events because I felt that its lack of a shamrock or flag meant it didn’t look like an Irish hat, so I wore my green Irish Maters Development Squad hat.
I went into the 400 with a race plan, and despite sharing the lane, I think I performed it well. I think I might be able to go a little faster with my own lane. In the end I knocked 5 seconds off my long course PB, which was done in London, and was also 4 seconds faster than my short course PB, without any conversions applied. I don’t remember what my time was from my teen days, I’m not sure why I don’t remember it, I swam it regularly and was pretty handy at it. So, I’m going to count this as a lifetime PB, or at least a masters life PB. As I mentioned already I had hoped to PB and hit 8th spot, but unfortunately two other people got better PBs and knocked me to 10th. I’m still delighted with this, I had only hoped to be top 25 maybe top 20. Looking at the times in this age-group in London and Budapest this would have gotten me 24th, so not too bad. After the race I found out that for 5 euro the organisers will print a certificate with your event, name, time and ranking on it. So I got them made up for the 200 & 400 freestyle.
The week was going well, my training was paying off, I just had one more swim the following day.