Reserve your seats, now! The ILMSA State Meet is two months away. I know this because the pool where I practice on Tuesday evenings, the UIC Flames Natatorium, has been reconfigured from the eight-lane 50 meter long course pool to an eight-lane 25 yard short course pool. Teammates have informed me this happens every year and the pool will remain in this configuration through April.

At first I thought that’s too bad, I’d really come to enjoy swimming in the long pool. Then I considered the upside. I’ll have the advantage of regularly swimming in the competition pool for several weeks before the big meet. I decided back in January to give the State Meet a shot. And to prepare myself, I swam three events in the Evanston Meet in late January. Despite a vicious case of nervousness, I managed to acquit myself without an overly undue amount of embarrassment. I swam three events and turned in three personal best times, beating my seed times in each event if we don’t count my DQ in the 100 Free due to a rolling start. I did say I was nervous, right? Anyway, here are my results from the Evanston Masters Swim Meet on January 22nd.

  • 100 Free : 1:12
  • 50 Breast : 0:39
  • 200 Free : 2:36

Whirl woke up with me at Oh God-thirty, came along and cheered me on. My friends Farmboy, Princess, Spencer and Templar came out to spend the morning at the pool and cheer as well. It felt great! Incidentally, my squad of loyal fans adopted my (much speedier) work colleague, Brent, and cheered for him, too.

The whole experience got me thinking about setting some actual goals for the upcoming year and see how close we come to hitting them. To that end, Niqui turned me on to the USMS program: Go The Distance.

Go the Distance is a self-directed program intended to encourage Masters swimmers to regularly exercise and track their progress. There is no time limit for the distance milestones, except that they must be achieved in the calendar year 2012. GTD is on the honor system– you track the distance you swim. […] When you achieve certain milestones, ranging from 50 miles through 1500 miles, you will be recognized on the U.S. Masters Swimming website and will receive special prizes from Nike Swim, our event title sponsor for the event.

Initially I wavered on a target distance. First I thought a mile a day. Since 2012 is a leap year, that would mean 366 miles. When I compared that goal to the yardage I turned in for 2011 (216 miles), I decided perhaps I should scale back a bit. — I settled on the distance of half a million meters. That translates to a little more than 310 miles but sounds so much more impressive. Right!?

So that’s one goal. Now I’m looking at my times and thinking of some others. I’d like to be able to compare where I am now to where I was at my peak at 18 or 19, I’m just not sure I have any of those times anywhere. I’ll have to look around. Anyway, that may not be terribly realistic at this stage, so I’ll focus on something that is more in line with my current performance. I’d love to drop my 500 Free time below seven minutes, shave a couple seconds off my 100 Free and see if I can get a competitive time in the 200 Free. As far as stroke events, I’m less certain, but faster is always better.

So let’s stretch it out a bit. Without further ado, here are some goal thoughts for 2012:

  • 100 Free : 1:08
  • 200 Free : 2:26
  • 500 Free : 6:55
  • 1000 Free : 14:20
  • 1500 Free : 21:30
  • 100 Back : 1:20
  • 50 Breast : 0:37
  • 100 Breast : 1:16
  • 200 IM : 2:34
  • One hour nonstop distance : 4100 yards
  • Total distance : 500000 meters

I’m not expecting to hit all (or even any) of these goals at the State Meet, but hopefully come December I will have achieved a few of them and pushed myself to set some new ones.

See you in the pool!