The best season ever
What a season last season was, if I count the Europeans as the end of the season. Three gold and a silver in the Irish Masters Open, the most gold I’d ever won in that competition. Tenth in two events in the Europeans, two other events were top twenty and the other twenty first. The Europeans also brought five lifetime best times, three of which have been recognised as Munster regional records. Finally, I was awarded swimmer of the year for the first time ever by my home club Kingdom Masters. To be honest while I did work very hard, and was very consistent with my racing, I did have an incredible amount of luck as well. Still having said that it was my most successful season ever.
Dealing with the aftermath
Training for the Europeans took a lot out of me. I viewed it as possibly my last chance to get lifetime bests and wanted to see how well I could do if I really devoted myself to training. I was careful with what I ate, I’m not a big drinker, but gave up all alcohol for most of the summer and I had a number of physio visits just to keep everything working. So, when it was all over I really needed a break. I took two weeks off from all sport, I then started some training outside the pool for another week. When I did get back to the pool things weren’t quiet right. I would sometimes get a real feeling of dread or exhaustion when just about to get in. I struggled to push things, regular life got in the way, and I just couldn’t get consistency in my training. I also completely dropped my diet and went from 73kg to 80kg. Eventually things settled and I got a training routine going again, and to keep things interesting I decided to look at competing in events I might not normally do.
Deciding the Summer
The world masters are in Korea this year, which is simply too costly a location for us to go to. This is why I had always planned to compete in the European Masters Games in Italy and is what the Rome challenge is based on (it initially said online it would be in Rome not Turin). Unfortunately, as I mentioned here, doing a Masters degree has meant Jia can’t train as much as she would need to. As the season went on I decided I wanted a summer away from the pool. While I love swimming and especially love this second life as a swimmer, the last two summers were draining physically, mentally, and made it harder to enjoy time with family. So, I had to choose when to end my season while also making sure I qualified for the Masters Development squad for next season when I go for the Europeans again. I couldn’t make a lot of galas, so my desire to make times for the squad combined with my “having a go” at different events made for an interesting Irish Masters Open.
I had initially planned on making either the Ulster Masters or the Leinster Masters my last gala of the season. However, I was feeling pretty beat up after Limerick and I’m very busy with family and coaching life so I decided my last competition would be my home gala, Kingdom Masters. I haven’t tried to load and taper for a short course competition since I was 17, so I decided to go all out for this competition, I would even wear my “good” racing suits. While I entered four individual events, I was really only interested in two; the 400 free and the 200 free. I tried something a bit new in my pacing in both and it paid off. The times in both are the fastest I’ve ever gone short course, and of course if you look at the absolute numbers, they are faster than my long course times. Of course, if you run them through a converter they are about the same, but in previous years I’ve found that once I break a barrier to hit a certain time in short course I can usually do the same long course. I’m now positive I can go faster in my 200m long course than my time in Slovenia. There was one agonising swim, I haven’t raced 50 free for a while and wanted to see if I could get under 27. The actual 50m free event was right after my 100 backstroke, so I went first in the 4×50 relay to get a time. I hit the pad at 27.04 and I know exactly where I missed it, I was slightly too deep on my break-out off the dive.
Still overall, I was happy with my times, it looks like all four individual events are faster than the current Munster record times, I’ve applied to have them recognised so hopefully nobody has gone faster in the meantime.
The summer & next season
While I don’t plan on doing a lot of swimming this summer, I do need to do something to keep in shape. When I take breaks from swimming, I usually go for runs or cycles, so I’ve joined the local triathlon club and have signed up for the Ring of Kerry cycle. In late August or early September, I plan to get back to the pool and start on a new training plan for the European Masters in Budapest in 2020.