Thursday, March 11, 2010
Felina's thoughts going into her last event
This season has been a lot of fun. I was nervous at the beginning of the season: I wasn't sure how hard it would be for me to come back into the swimming scene after taking three years off. The girls on the team were very supportive in helping me get back into shape and get used to the demanding schedule. I'm surprised at how fast everything seemed to fall into place.
My best meet of the season so far was the Toshiba Classic, a big invitational held in Long Beach, California, every November. This is where I made my national cuts in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles. Thanks to that meet I'm able to enjoy the full experience of being a national level collegiate athlete. I was really excited coming into nationals for two reasons: the obvious reason is because it's nationals! but also because it's my last meet before I retire for a second time.
Our journey to nationals started with a very long flight from Fairbanks to Canton, Ohio. Mariya, Scott and I all managed to get stuck in middle seats on the three and a half hour flight to Seattle. Of course we all got "trapped" next to interesting characters . . . The next two flights from Seattle to Chicago and Chicago to Canton, though long, weren't nearly as bad because I was able to sit next to Mariya and Scott sat in the emergency exit row most of the way. To make a long story short, we left Fairbanks a one o'clock in the morning and arrived in Ohio at close to five in the afternoon after traveling through four time zones.
Monday and Tuesday we found ourselves at the pool both morning and afternoon to get used to the facility and work off the jet lag. The pool is a pretty nice 50-meter pool, separated by bulkheads with an attached diving well. On Monday we were able to stretch out and enjoy fairly empty lanes but when we arrived at the pool on Tuesday morning you'd have sworn the meet was just about to start! There were teams everywhere and it was a struggle to find calm water.
Nonetheless, we accomplished what we needed to do and Mariya and I were both sprinting very well and feeling ready for the meet to start.
Wednesday was the first day of the meet and I swam the 50 free. I was excited going into the 50 because this is the first time I've ever trained as a sprinter and I was feeling confident that I was going to have a fast swim. Unfortunately, I think my nerves got a hold of me. I pulled down in an awkward position on the start, which caused my shoulder to pop and consequently my start was delayed and my breakout suffered. In a 50 there just isn't enough time to make up for such a costly mistake. Even so, I was able to pull off a 24.24, a time just two tenths of a second off my lifetime best. Two tenths of a second doesn't sound like much to complain about but in a 50 it makes a world of difference, especially considering I had my heart set on breaking in to the 23s.
Today I was hoping to turn things around. The 200 free was my favorite event all through high school and I was a high school All American my junior year. I've been focusing mostly on my 100 free this season but with all the work I put in training at altitude over the break, I felt that I would have a very successful 200 as well. Once again, I was a little disappointed in how things turned out. I felt confident and relaxed in the moments leading up to the race. Sadly, after about 125 yards, I felt like my body hit a wall and I struggled to finish the race.
Thankfully I have Friday to recover from my last two events before I compete in the event I've been focusing on - the 100 free. I'm ranked very high going into the race and I'd love to make it into the championship final. It'll be a challenge, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to conquering. Only after I achieve this goal can I look forward to my second retirement and starting a whole new chapter in my life.