Tuesday, May 31. 2005
I wanted to send a quick update before I leave for Nationals. Training this weekend has been good. I have still maintained high yardage but I have not done anything very intense. I’m feeling pretty good and I’m getting excited for the races.
I leave tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for Ft. Myers. I do not race until Thursday, so I will have a day and a half to prepare. I hope to get in the water tomorrow afternoon as well as on Wednesday. This will allow me to feel the temperature and to find a few landmarks to remember to sight during the course. A few of us are already planning on meeting to swim together when we’re down there training before the races start – I never like to swim all alone if I can help it!
It is helpful to me to get to Nationals at least a day or so early if I can. I usually like to buy some food at a grocery store so that I don’t have to eat all of my meals at restaurants. I like to get settled in the hotel room so that my first night there is not the night before the race. Tomorrow and Wednesday will give me time to relax and to adjust… and to pay extra attention to drinking plenty of water! I want to make sure I’m well-hydrated for the extremely HOT Florida races.
My bags are packed and my alarm is set… for 4:15am. I have an early start tomorrow as I make my way down to Florida. I will try to update from there when I can.
Friday, May 27. 2005
Hi. My name is Erica Rose. I’ve never really written in a blog before, so I’m going to try this and hope it goes well. Open water swimming nationals start next week and I thought I would share part of the training / tapering / racing experience with everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I guess I’ll start with a brief bio to give you an idea of my open water experience. After that, I’ll jump right in and let you know what I’m up to with training and preparations for the meet.
I have been swimming competitively since age 6 or 7 and I have always been a distance swimmer. I started open water swimming with a 5K race in Ft. Lauderdale in 1996 (my coach, Jerry Holtrey, thought it would be something fun for me to try out since he used to do open water swims when he was a distance swimmer). Gradually, open water swimming took me away from pool swimming and became my main focus.
I have been on the national team since 1997 and I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world for competitions. I have been on four World Championship teams as well as a Pan Pacific and a Pan American team. After graduating from Northwestern University last June, I spent several months living abroad (in Mexico) and competing in the FINA Open Water World Cup circuit. I started my open water swimming career doing mainly 5K races and occasional 10Ks. Now, I do much longer swims. In February, I completed the longest race in the world – 88 kilometers down the Parana River in Argentina.
The highlight of my open water swimming career has without a doubt been my gold medal race in the 5K at the World Championships in Perth, Australia in 1998. That was a long time ago, though. Now, I swim because I truly love this sport. I enjoy swimming when I am not confined by walls and directed by black lines and lane ropes. I thrive on challenge and competition. Most of all, I find that I am happiest when I am experiencing new places, new cultures, and new people. The friendships and connections I have made throughout my open water career are ones I will cherish the rest of my life.
So – where am I now and how am I preparing for next week’s competitions? I moved back from Mexico about six weeks ago and I am living with my parents in Cleveland, Ohio for the summer (I will start graduate school back in Chicago at Northwestern in the fall). I am training with Jerry Holtrey and the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins, the club team I have been with since I started swimming as a young child. LESD is a distance-oriented program. We do lots of yardage – and nearly all of it is fast. Jerry believes in short-interval work and high volume… and the kids just crank it out. I swim in a lane with, among others, Diana Munz, an Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalist and Alyssa Kiel, a rising star and a qualifier for this year’s World University games in the pool. Having great swimmers all around me forces me to be at my best each and every workout.
I train every morning, Monday through Saturday, as well as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons. Wednesday afternoons I get a mid-week break. Sunday is my complete day off. Right now, each time I am in the water, I swim 7,000 to 8,000 meters. Usually, when I’m at my highest level of training, I’m swimming at least 10,000 meters each workout – that comes to somewhere around 100 kilometers per week (about 60+ miles). Since I’ve been home, however, Jerry has been focusing on speed work with me. We know I can swim for as long as I need to. In order to be competitive, I need to be able to change speeds during a race, to put in a sprint at the end, and even just to race faster for a longer period of time. Instead of doing long, moderately paced swims and racking up the yardage, I’ve been focusing more on intensity and maintaining somewhere around 65 to 70 kilometers per week.
In addition to my in-the-water training, I also do some land exercises. I avoid doing anything that puts a strain on my shoulders – I have occasional problems with them and doing push ups and dips only makes matters worse. Instead, I do lots of abdominal work, squats, lunges, step-ups, stretch cords, and stretching. I do not do weight training (although I have in the past), and right now I’m not putting much focus on extra cardiovascular work outside of my swim practices.
Next week, I will be traveling to Ft. Myers, Florida, to compete at Nationals. I will swim the 25K on Thursday and the 10K on Sunday. In order to prepare for the races, I’m trying to rest a bit this week. Jerry has lightened my workouts – I still do the same amount of yardage but the intensity is not as high. Over the next few days, I will do extra backstroke in my practices to make sure my shoulders are loose and to give my freestyle a break. I will also focus on hydration. Ft. Myers is HOT! The 25K race is first. This means I am going to need to be well-hydrated before I get there, and I am going to need to do everything I can in order to re-hydrate after the 25K and to prepare for the 10K race.
I suppose this is enough for now. I will give a training and preparation update before I head to Florida, and I will also attempt to access the internet from Nationals so that I can discuss the competitions as they occur.