Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Talk About a Happy Birthday!

World Champions, baby!!

Our club took two teams to Riccione, Italy to compete in the 2012 Fina World Masters Championships. At the beginning of the season, I was a wreck because most of my usual team had decided not to go. There would be no Spies in Italy. Two other teams kind of dissolved the same way, so they put the rest of us together and hoped for the best.

We swam Fuego for our tech and Copa for our free. Other than a couple minor glitches - I totally smacked Sylvia in the head during the beginning strokes of Fuego - we did extremely well. So well in fact, that we came home with gold medals.

This is my first gold medal in a major meet. And to get it on my birthday was just awesome!

When we checked the scores, we learned that we beat the silver medal team by almost 3 points. Talk about icing on the cake.

Here's the video of our gold medal-winning routine:

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Nationals: Outstanding Duets

Out of all the routines we saw at Nationals, three duets stand out in my mind as simply outstanding. There's no way I can rank them in terms of which I liked better so I'll just present them here in random order.

First up:
Russian Bells Duet. I call it that because I don't know who the swimmers are, but one was rumored to be Russian. The "bells" part is self explanatory once you see the video. The choreography is just wonderful. Enjoy!

Next up:
The Unsyncables' own Ymajahi Brooks and Jessica Bond. I have to admit that this music annoyed the crap out of me the few times I heard it at practice. After seeing them swim this routine, it made perfect sense.

John Ortiz and Hallie Todd of Tualatin Hills Synchro. They did an extremely creative Michael Jackson routine. Of course it was John, so the creativity is not all that surprising. Kudos!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2011 Nationals: The Spies Have It!

I'm a bit in shock at the moment because I just realized that the Aqua Tics, formally known as the Synchro Nuts have been swimming as a team for five Nationals now. We've had a few people come and go, but overall we've had one steady core group.

And it's been awesome!

We started out as the "throw away" folks the coaches just didn't know what to do with. But we embraced our inner misfit and emerged as a pretty solid team. And that is why I'm so proud of the free routine we all came up with.

But first the tech.

Usually, we only write one routine a year. This time, we needed to write two because our Beatles tech was getting old. Not to say that we were tired of it. We weren't. We just needed to move on. Which brings us to Fuego.

We had a couple hiccups, but overall, it wasn't a complete train wreck... Okay. I might be judging on a curve. We scored 59.250 with this routine which put us in fourth place behind our other 50s team, Wisconsin Waterloons and Tualatin Hills Synchro.

But then we pulled out the big guns - literally - with the free. We have so many gun hands in this routine that it's ridiculous. The whole strategy for if someone got lost in the choreography was for them to just shoot at a judge until they figured out how to get back on.

Fortunately, no one needed to pull that stunt and we came away with a pretty decent routine.

We had a really good time swimming this routine. I'm so proud of how well everyone did considering that it was a new routine and we had some difficult "WoW" factors involved.

We scored well enough to take down Tualatin Hills and snatch the bronze medal. Not too bad for a bunch of spies!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We're Okay, Lifeguard. Really.

I hope I can tell this one right.

My favorite moment happened at the synchro class I take with a few of my teammates. We're all fairly new to the sport, but willing to give anything a try. We're kinda crazy that way.

After the World Masters in Perth, Australia, I was so excited to try some of the things I'd seen at competition. Naturally, I picked out something the winning 20s team did for our 50s trio. 'Cause I'm kinda crazy that way.

I was in a front pike and my one of my trio partners was to have her back to me and hook her arms behind her head, but around my legs so I would pull her over as I did a jumpover. She was supposed to end in a back tuck while I sat out of the layout then lifted her.

Simple, right?

For whatever reason, I couldn't get her to let go of my legs. She was holding on to them for dear life which meant I couldn't get out of the way for her to tuck. We tried this over and over with the same result. Maybe not exactly the same. It got worse and worse each time through.

The embarrassing part is that we must have looked really bad because the lifeguard was sitting poised on her chair ready to rescue us. She just knew we were about to drown. Needless to say this hasn't actually made it into a routine.

It has, however, given us a choreography standard. If a lifeguard thinks we're drowning while trying a hybrid, we're not including that hybrid in the routine. I suppose that's common sense....

Happy swimming!

Friday, June 10, 2011


2010 FINA Masters was so awesome! My team pulled it together and had a really good swim for our team tech.

I think we kinda psyched ourselves out for the free, but we still pulled out a pretty decent swim. So decent in fact, that we managed to come home with bronze medals. Talk about awesome. So exciting!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Gonna Wash That Gel Right Outta My Hair....Eventually

If you've ever swum in a synchro competition, there is one thing you know: Gel is beast to get out of your hair once all is said and done. I've known swimmers who were still trying to separate their hair from the concoction a week later.

Granted, I'm pretty new to the synchro thing, but I have had the experience of gelling my hair. Fortunately, I've also had the benefit of 40+ years of experience in my teammates who've all been there, done that.

The trick I've learned to removing gel from hair is to use conditioner. Simple, huh? When you're ready to de-gel, just coat your gelled hair while it's still in the bun with a thick layer of conditioner then hop in the shower. Make sure you pay attention to those tricky areas around your ears and along your nape where gel likes to hide out.

While you're getting the chlorine off your body, the conditioner softens the gel. Rinse it away with hot water. Shampoo and condition your hair normally. You'll be good as new!

I've also found that conditioner is like the be all, end all of de-gelling. I got a dob of gel on my tech suit at nationals. Back at the hotel, I smeared conditioner on the spot and let it set for about fifteen minutes. It rinsed completely away. No problems.

I love conditioner! I use Infusium and have not yet tested it against other brands. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

I've also heard that pineapple juice is really good for de-gelling. I'll let someone else run that experiment.

Happy swimming!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Big News!!

So back in 2007 I wrote this little romantic suspense novel about a synchronized swimmer turned bodyguard who's been assigned to protect a rock star. On January 24, 2009 it was released by Amira Press. I'd be honored if you checked it out. Clicking on the cover will take you directly to the publisher's website.

Isn't the cover the best? Valerie Tibbs designed it. She did a marvelous job. Click the link to swing by her blog and check out her other covers. She's amazing!

And now... A little more about the book. I'd love to hear what you think.

SECRET BODYGUARD is available now from Amira Press!


Erica Kellogg is a former Olympic synchronized swimmer who has been blackballed from the sport she adores. She’s dealt with her loss by joining a world renowned security firm where she can lose herself in a myriad of dangerous assignments. Needless to say, she’s not thrilled when she learns her latest case barely amounts to babysitting duty. If that weren’t bad enough, Trevor Cole, the man she’s been assigned to protect is, in her opinion, nothing more than a spoiled rock star. She doesn’t count on finding out there’s more to him than meets the eye or falling in love.

Secret Bodyguard Excerpt:

Erica knew when she was being watched. She’d had that instinct to some extent ever since she could remember. After joining the firm, she’d worked to hone it until it became yet another reliable asset in her ever growing arsenal. It was because of that instinct that she knew the moment Trevor Cole first laid eyes on her. She hadn’t realized it was him until she’d looked up and caught him staring over the railing at her. He couldn’t have realized it, but the sun, being generous with its light, not so much its heat, hit him perfectly from her position on the dock. She could see his eyes through the glasses and confirm his stare. Though Erica had seen pictures of the man, she wasn’t prepared for the sheer magnetism he exuded. She’d have to be careful she didn’t get sucked in. Thank God for his golden blond hair. Blond men were not her type.

Still, she couldn’t help but prefer that his first glimpse of her hadn’t been when she was wearing a bulky coat and boots. A cool breeze danced across the dock reminding her why she was dressed the way she was. In her brain, she understood her reaction to seeing him for the first time. Over the past day and a half, Erica had immersed herself in everything Trevor Cole. Both the public reports from newspapers and other publications and the private ones that she could only access through Trecam. On a personal level, she liked that he was a decent guy. On a professional one, it sucked.

Because of his boring background, Erica recommended that Caitlyn assign a team. One person on the front lines gathering evidence and protecting Trevor, while the other person ran down the leads. Hoping to avoid the whole audition thing, Erica volunteered for background duty. Her boss took the recommendations under advisement and amended assignment as needed. All except the part where Erica wouldn’t have to deal with Trevor in person. Hence Erica’s reluctant appearance on the dock. Caitlyn assigned the lead tracking to Jason.

Not wishing to make her assignment even harder, she decided not to alienate the man before they’d even met. That’s why Erica deferentially dropped her gaze first. She turned her attention to the women and the man in the wheelchair in front of her. She knew from her research that the man was Detective Cameron Dobbs and the thin woman was his wife Marcy. Cam and Trevor grew up on neighboring ranches. The two pursued different paths with Trevor going off to college to major in music and Cam heading to the Police Academy, but even distance hadn’t cooled their friendship. When Cam was shot in the line of duty a year ago, Trevor bought his current residence in the area and moved closer to help Marcy with Cam’s care.

It told Erica a lot about the kind of man Trevor was. He could’ve hired nurses, but he’d been pretty hands on with Cam’s recovery. She didn’t want to be, but she couldn’t help being impressed with Trevor. At least on paper. Now she was about to meet the man himself. Erica climbed aboard the yacht and joined the party.

Trevor kept his hands planted on the hips of the latest giggling girl who’d cornered him. In part because it was the only way to keep her from plastering herself all over him where he was seated on a stool. But more because he was able to keep her out of his line of sight so he could watch to see if the woman in the coat came to his party. He couldn’t help the stab of disappointment that shot through him when she failed to materialize long after Cam, Marcy and their guest boarded. Trevor shook it away. Of course she wasn’t coming to his party. She hadn’t belonged. Aside from her strange attire, she’d had an expression on her face that indicated a brain was involved. He looked at the current girl chattering away in front of him. That wasn’t an issue with this one. Tuning back in, he was annoyed to learn that she was still talking about her nails.

Trevor mustered up his rock star smile. “Sorry, darling. Some friends just arrived that I really must see to.” Without waiting for her consent, he set her out of his path and went to find his best friend.

* * * *

Cam fought his way through the crowd to an out of the way corner with Marcy and her friend Winnie. It never ceased to amaze him how many self absorbed people showed up to these parties. When he’d said, “excuse me,” few of them spared him a glance and swayed a millimeter or so out his path. Until they’d felt the cold steel of his chair threatening to take off their legs. He’d even brought his skinny chair. Amazing.

Poor Winnie turned beet red while she stared at a young woman who’d just removed her already skimpy top presumably so the beefcake behind her in the tiny red Speedo which did nothing to conceal a thing could rub sunscreen on her back. Cam knew his wife meant well, but there was no way this Winnie person was a match for Trevor. Marcy had to be the worst matchmaker in history. It brought a smile to his face to remember how she’d been convinced that he was the perfect match for her cousin. Cam’d gone along with it and befriended the cousin to learn how to woo Marcy. Best thing he’d ever done. He’d be the first to cheer when Trevor found the same thing. He glanced at Winnie and fought a grimace. She wasn’t it.

Marcy read his expression and flicked his ear. “Give them a chance,” she hissed bending close.

“I just don’t want to you to be disappointed if the sparks don’t fly.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Winnie is a lovely woman.”

They both looked her way and were dismayed to discover that her reddish tint had become a hideous purple. Marcy stepped in front of the other woman to block her view of whatever shenanigans the young couple was engaging in.

“What am I doing here? How did you talk me into this? What could Trevor see in me when he has all this . . . this . . . this around?” She tugged the collar of her blouse away from her neck. Cam figured the woman was going to pass out if she didn’t take a breath soon. He shrugged. That would just get them out of there that much faster.

“Trevor is a great guy. Not at all like these other guys.” Marcy looked around. She frowned and Cam turned to follow her gaze. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing when he saw his friend had a bony blonde hanging on his arm when he made his way toward them. Trevor took one look at Marcy’s glower and shook the blonde off to continue the trek alone.

Marcy turned on a smile for Winnie. Patted her hand. The woman looked like she was going to puke at any moment. “Just be your sweet self. None of these women can hold a candle to you. You’ll see.”

“Hey, guys. I thought you’d never get here.” Trevor greeted the trio when he strolled up. He turned on his rock star smile. Cam knew it was for Winnie’s benefit. Marcy gave Trevor a big hug and pushed him closer to Winnie.

“Hey, Trev. This is Winnie Winslow. I was bragging about my husband’s perfect friend, and she didn’t believe you existed so I had to make the introduction.” Cam squeezed Marcy’s hand. She was trying way too hard. Trevor looked amused.

“Great. I’d like to meet this guy, too.” Trevor looked around, and Winnie snorted a giggle. Marcy turned red with embarrassment. Cam yanked her down on his lap and gave Trevor a wolfish grin.

“Now that the two of you have met, would you mind making yourself scarce so I can enjoy my wife for a minute?”

Trevor chuckled. He took Winnie’s hand. She looked at him with a serious case of disbelief and hero worship. “I think that’s our cue to get lost. You game?”

Star struck, Winnie managed a nod. She looked quite a bit like a bobble head doll, but Trevor retained his smile while he set out to be a good host. He led her away through the crowd.

* * * *

At last, Erica emerged on the main deck of Trevor’s yacht. She’d taken advantage of the chaos to explore the boat so the layout in her memory was more detailed than what she’d learned from a blueprint. During her explorations, Erica took the time to appreciate the lushly appointed amenities. Trevor had spared no expense on the dark mahogany which appeared polished within an inch of its life. The heads were done in marble and the furniture thick and comfy. Luxury exemplified.

Now that she’d finished studying the yacht, Erica wanted to get a look at each guest. It was a long shot, but if she could ID his tormentor and put a stop to it at the party, she’d be a very happy camper. And she’d be free for assignment on a juicier case. She looked over another mindless couple when they raced past her to a stateroom. Erica sighed, a girl could dream.

She made her way up to the Flydeck where she’d glimpsed him heading earlier. Trevor was chatting with the woman who’d arrived with his friends. Erica wasn’t sure what surprised her more, that Trevor appeared to be listening or that he’d given his attention to the one female who was still wearing a full set of clothes. Erica considered her own costume hidden under her coat and shrugged. It wasn’t quite as revealing as most of what she’d seen, but she didn’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the partygoers either. Part of her job today depended on standing out.

She looked around the deck and took a deep breath. It was time. The pool sat in the middle of a casual teak deck crowned with a bubbling hot tub. That many people in one hot tub was just . . . wrong. Erica shook off her shudder and spied a stereo on a shelf at the far side of the deck. She turned her attention back to the pool which was raised about three feet so that meant it couldn’t be more than four feet deep like she’d expected.

Routine modifications came to her while she slunk toward the stereo, careful to blend with the crowd. She sat on the ground out of Trevor’s view and shed her coat and boots.

The brisk air sent a shiver through her. What kind of nut threw a party on a yacht in this kind of weather? Even packed like it was, the steam rising from the Jacuzzi was pretty inviting. Nothing came from the pool. She shuddered to imagine how cold it was. Surely people would be in it if he kept it heated. Or maybe she was the sole person crazy enough to want to swim in this weather.

Erica slipped the CD in the stereo and pressed play. When the music pounded on the deck, Erica stood up and nailed Trevor with a look. A little thrill of satisfaction shot through her when his head snapped her way. She had his full attention. She saw the crestfallen look on his companion’s face, and vowed to feel bad about the interruption later. She did her walk on in time to the music.

Erica hoisted herself up on the side of the pool, holding Trevor’s puzzled gaze the entire way. She could feel that other people were watching her little performance, too. Let them watch. She was prepared to be amazing in four feet of water. Trevor would be floored and hire her on the spot. She would put a stop to the threats on his life in record time, and they’d both go their separate ways. All without him being any the wiser, of course.

Trevor hopped up from his seat and raised a hand. Erica smiled at him, confident she had him hooked and slid into the pool. It took just a second for her to realize that there was no water in it. Erica’s smile morphed into shock when she saw that the pool was even deeper than she’d figured. The bottom was about seven feet down, and she hit it with a less than graceful thump. The wind whooshed out of her. She landed in a tangled sprawl. She lay there for a moment trying to gather her wits.

* * * *

Trevor hurried to the side of the pool and looked at the woman who’d captured his attention from the dock. What in the world had she been trying to do?

“Are you hurt? Can you move?” he called to her. More guests gathered around the sides of the pool, giggling at her expense.

“Yeah. I think.” The last part of her answer was a mere whisper while she experimented with moving each limb. She looked up at the laughing guests and flushed crimson over her entire body. And what a body it was. The woman was a knock out. Long legs attached to full hips. He watched, fascinated, while each muscle flexed during her inventory. She arched her back emphasizing her tempting bosom that barely remained tucked inside the fanciest swimming suit he’d ever seen in his life.

He drew his eyes up to her face and was dismayed to note that she’d caught him checking out her boobs. He fought his own embarrassed flush. “Do you need a hand?”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2008 Nationals: A Big Finale

The team free routines and team combos were the final events in Nationals. We'd wised up the day before with the extreme cold and dressed accordingly. I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to close my suitcase when I was wearing three pairs of pants, my competition suit, two t-shirts, and two jackets. Karen loaned me her extra parka to on top of all that and I was pretty snug as a bug in a rug. Lilia had the brilliant idea of bringing a huge blanket from the Timeshare and I so generously offered to keep it warm while she warmed up with her team who would be swimming near the beginning of event.

Again, we began with the 70s age group then moved into the 20s. Lilia's team, The Bikini Squad went 2nd.

Despite the cold, they had a fabulous swim. Kimberly put the icing on the cake with her huge smile and dance when they lifted her at the end. They scored a 72.500 which gave them an overall score of 71.417 and silver medals.

Next up was our 30s team, Whip It. The scored an impressive 75.416 against some pretty stiff competition. They still managed to pull out an overall score of 75.167 which also gave them silver medals.

In the 50s, my team, the Synchronuts, swam 11th while our Ragtime team swam 13th.

The Synchronuts had a pretty good swim. We earned a score of 66.166 which gave us an overall score of 65.083. This gave us fourth place, just one point from third. The ribbons are nice, but next year, we plan to come home with some hardware.

The Ragtime team had a great swim and earned a 71.667 for an overall score of 69.667. They came home with silver medals around their necks after just being edged out for gold by .083 of a point. Great job ladies!

At last, we were finished since no one on our team was swimming the combo event. It was time to relax and enjoy the remainder of the competition.

But first, we had the awards ceremony and an impromptu photo shoot. After all the medals were awarded, the winner of the high point trophy was announced. The way they determine the National Champion is based on the points earned in each event.

Points are awarded through 8th place. With everyone swimming as well as they did we successfully defended our National Title with 136 overall points.

This is Whip It before they got their medals. Back left to right: Lea, Karen, Lesley, Ymajahi, Sylvia (alternate); Front left to right: Shannon, Catherine, Candy and Lindsay.

This is the Ragtime Team with their medals and roses. From left to right: Shelley, Lizzi, Jill, Sue, Molly, Kathy, Penny and Ruth.

Here are the Synchronuts. Back left to right: Lori, Akiko, Vicki, Mary; Front left to right: DeeAnna, Corby, Kathy and Elaine.

The Bikini Squad went in search of heat. This is all that was left of them:

After we'd gotten the medals and such squared away, it was time for the Combos to begin.

As always, San Francisco Tsunami put on a great show with a tribute to Dolly Pardon. They even put their tallest guy in a blonde wig and fake boobs for the routine.

The highlight of the competition for me was having the opportunity to see the swimmers from "O" compete. This team was so good that people were standing around watching their practice in the shallow end.

Needless to say, no one was surprised when they earned a 94.333 which was the highest score of the meet. They had a fabulous swim. Even their mistakes were beautiful. Karen told me later that the sign of a good routine is that your reaction is, "It's over?" after they stop swimming. The "O" routine certainly fit that bill.

All too soon, we were packing up and getting on the road to head back to Los Angeles. This time the milk thing didn't work as well. We learned that you have to get your eyes out of bright sun and heavy wind for it to be effective. I'm so thankful Kathy's husband, Denny, was driving. Neither of us could see all that well until after the sun went down.

And that's the end of our 2008 Nationals Experience.

Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 Nationals: Trios and Team Techs

Saturday morning dawned bright and early for us all. Before we left the Timeshare, Karen asked me what the weather had been like. I told her that I was comfortable air drying in my suit on Thursday and Friday had been nice until it got chilly that night. We agreed that her shorts would be more than enough for the day. I was wearing only my swim sandals.

Oh how wrong we were!!

Things seemed to go okay at first. It was pretty chilly and the sun kept trying to disappear, but the competition progressed as scheduled. Trios were up first.

In the 70s age group, we started with Molly, Penny and Mariam swimming 2nd. They snuck up on me so I was only able to get about half of the routine.

They did an excellent job and ended up in 1st place with a score of 58.500.

In the 30s age group, Lindsay, Ymajahi and Shannon swam 5th.

They scored 73.500.

In the 50s, Shelley, Jill and Kathy swam 4th and earned a 68.5.

It wasn't long into these routines that the clouds started rolling in and threatening rain. People were prepared to deal with rain. After all, most of us would be wet anyway. Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the snow that started falling. Yes. Snow. In Vegas. I didn't even think such a thing was possible.

Immediately, I started regretting my choice of shoes for the day. When Ymajahi packed up her newborn and mother to take them back to the Timeshare, I made sure I went with them. We got a list of what everyone else needed and we were on our way. What made all this extremely fun was the fact that Ymajahi's team was swimming in just over an hour.

In the fastest dash possible, we went to the Timeshare and picked up what we could. Ymajahi had only brought sandals with her to Vegas so we stopped at a low price store - who shall remain nameless 'cause I'm far from a fan - to buy her some shoes. She also grabbed some hats, gloves and a robe.

We dashed back to the pool where we arrived just in time for Ymajahi to sprint back inside and jump in the water for her team warm up. I parked her van then brought the stuff inside.

Our 20s team, The Bikini Squad, swam 2nd in the event and 1st in their age group.

They did a fantastic job despite the cold and scored 70.334.

Next up was our 30s team, Whip It, who swam 10th.

Another fantastic showing. They scored 74.916.

We have two teams in the 50s age group. The Ragtime Team and the Synchronuts.

The Synchronuts, my team, swam 7th.

It was so cold that we didn't even bother getting out of the pool to start. We made a grand entrance by swimming under the lane line. I have no other explanation for this, but for the first time in my life, I had the thought, "I don't want to be here," in the middle of the routine. Thankfully, it was fleeting and piked down for the porpoise lift. With the exception of tilting my head the wrong direction for the first time ever, the rest of the routine was fairly uneventful.

When we got out of the water, our coach, Dawn, was just thrilled with how well we did. It's really rare for us to see her that excited about something our team has done. Usually her reactions are very tactful questions like, "Was that a sequence?" For the first time, she started to see all her hard work paying off. That made the rest of the day worth it.

We ended up with a score of 64.000 which just put us in 5th place by .083 of a point.

The Ragtime team swam 12th. They scored a very nice 67.667.

After the team techs, the trios got back in the water to swim their free routines.

In the 70s, Molly, Penny and Mariam came away with a score of 64.600.

Their combined overall score was 61.550.

Next up was Shannon, Ymajahi and Lindsay who swam 8th. They scored 75.800 which gave them the silver with an overall score of 74.650.

Shelley, Jill and Kathy finished out our trios in the 50s age group.

They scored 64.000 which put them in first with an overall score of 66.250.

At last, our day was coming to a close. After the awards ceremonies, we had a brief athlete's meeting to discuss possible changes to the competition format then we all headed back to the Timeshare exhausted.

After a yummy meal we picked up from Chili's we sat around the living room and chatted. Karen entertained us with the background of the rules that were at issue during the meeting and told us about the ones that are on the books because of her. Go Karen!! Then we all headed off to bed to rest up for the final day of competition.

The Team Frees.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 Nationals: A Day of Duets

Friday was very exciting for me. I had the luxury of remaining dry all day. At least until the team practice that night. But until then, I got to be a spectator. Sort of. I've already taken my test to become a level 1 judge, but I wanted a bit of experience judging actual routines. Between Candy, Karen and Laurette I've gotten a really good idea how easy it's not.

But back to the swimmers.

This time we started in the 70s. There were six pairs competing. Our own Penny and Lizzi were up 5th.

They did a wonderful job. They had over a two point lead on the next closest competitor after the tech routine.

Next up were the 20s.

Jenni and Kim swam 5th.

They ended up in 5th place with a 68.834.

In the 30s, Lindsay and Shannon swam 12th.

After the techs, they scored 77.666 for 5th place.

Then we were ready for the duet free routines.

This time Penny and Lizzi started off the competition.

They scored a 63.500 which combined with their tech scores gave them an overall score of 62.167 and secured a gold medal. Great job ladies!

Back to Kim and Jenni in the 20s. They swam 9th in their age group.

They scored an impressive 73.000 which after combining with the tech score gave them an overall score of 70.917. They tied for 2nd place. Excellent job!

In the 30s, Shannon and Lindsay swam 12th again.

They earned a more than respectable score of 76.600. After all was said and done, they had an overall score of 77.133 which was the highest of any of our team scores. Way to go ladies!

After the duets, we ended up in a bit of a scramble. The teams were all scheduled to run through their routines that night with music. However, the competition went a bit long and many of the competitors had tickets to see La Reve that evening. The powers that be allowed teams who had people with tickets to swim first during the practice.

It was getting a bit chilly so the teams were eager to get through the practice for more than one reason. Afterward, we had a nice little dinner, then put on the videos of the team practice. I need to get a copy of ours. Not because we were incredible or anything. But because Ymajahi is a complete nut. You can see her dancing along to our music in the shallow end. It was hysterical! A wonderful end to a wonderful day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 Nationals: Night One

Now that the milk thing had my eyes feeling better, I was more up to going out with Catherine and Lilia. They were heading to the Strip where a former teammate now ran a restaurant at the MGM Grand.

Nob Hill is very fancy. Thankfully, we were in Vegas so I could get away with wearing jeans. Catherine and Lilia pulled out the dresses, though. Between the time we'd gotten ready to go and actually left, our group grew from the three of us to include Ymajahi. While waiting for her, Lindsay decided to tag along with her sister and brother in law.

Luckily Catherine had a mini van! All of us piled in and made the two mile trek to the Strip.

Nob Hill was fairly easy to find. John looked so professional in his suit and tie. He immediately seated us in an area to the side of the bar and brought out cocktails for us to try. Unfortunately, I don't drink so I didn't taste the cool looking drink in the martini glass with sugar baked around the edges. He brought me a coke instead. After a sip of her drink, Ymajahi polished off my coke because she's still breastfeeding.

We chatted for a while at that table, then he took us in the restaurant to seat us for dinner. Fabulous doesn't even begin to describe this place. Everything was soft. The chairs were comfortable and cushiony. Even the table top had a little padding.

The staff took really good care of us. I don't even think it was because we were John's friends. They seem to be that courteous of all their costumers. When one of our waiters was telling us about the specials, he mentioned some dish that was $33 an ounce and started at 3 ounces. He just smiled while all of us started cracking up.

The pot pies sounded really good and looked even better. They were actually pies brought out in a copper pot that was humongous. Another waiter gave us a peek at the lobster pot pie as he was serving it. Unfortunately, they were $93. And you don't even get to keep the pot. I know because I asked.

Finally, I decided to split a hamburger with Ymajahi. Good move since it was twenty-two bucks. While we were waiting for our orders, John kept plying us with other foods. He had three cheese fondue things brought out for us and gave us each a plate of San Francisco sourdough bread. Having never had fondue before, this was a pretty neat experience. There was a skewer on the plate with the bread. You use it to dip the bread in the cheese. Normally, I'm not a big fan of sourdough bread, but this was really yummy.

Next came the escargot. I had to stare it down for a long minute, but I finally got up the nerve to eat it. Thankfully, the serving portion was very small. Man, those suckers are chewy. I can't ever see myself voluntarily ordering it ever again, but I'm glad I at least tried it.

When our orders came out, I must say that that was one of the best hamburgers I've ever had. And the fries? Super yummy. John also brought out more macaroni and cheese for the rest of us to try. It was delicious, too. I took the remains of it back to the timeshare and it was never seen again.

All too soon we had to call it a night. Lindsay and her sister were both swimming the next day and needed to get some rest. Catherine, Lilia and Ymajahi wanted to stay behind and gamble a bit. Catherine gave me her keys to drive the first group home with the intention of catching a cab back later. However, luck wasn't with them and they lost all their money before we even got to the garage. We picked them up at the escalators and all headed back to the timeshare after a thoroughly wonderful evening.

From left to right: Lilia, Catherine, Ymajahi, John, Lori, Lindsay and Devin.

2008 Nationals: Solos Up First

Thursday was our solo competition. After a great night's sleep at the Timeshare I got up and hitched a ride to the pool our coach, Dawn. I wanted to be there in time for the open pool at 8a and Catherine and Lilia weren't planning to come until later. The open pool time did a lot to calm my nerves. You'd think by now I'd be used to competing. Anyway, I had a lovely swim despite the fact that my swimp3 peeled my goggles off every time I went upside down.

While I was warming up, a Japanese lady joined me on the side of the pool and asked about Akiko, one of my teammates. Turns out, she and Akiko became fast friends when we competed at Stanford in 2006 and she was hoping to see her again. I assured her that Akiko would be arriving on Friday.

At last, things settled - as much as they can at a swim meet - and we were off and running. We started with four ladies in the 70s age group followed by three ladies in the 80s age group. Both Lizzi and Mariam are in the 80s this year.

Lizzi was first.

Ramapo Aquamasters went second and Mariam rounded out the age group.

Both of our ladies did a fantastic job. After the tech routine, Lizzi was in first and Mariam was in second.

Next up: the 20s!

We had three teammates competing in this age group and judging by the routines I saw, I am very thankful I'm in the 30s.

Kimberly swam 12th.

Jenni swam 18th, but her music was screwy so she got to swim the routine again after Ymajahi.

Ymajahi swam 21st.

As you can see, all three did a fantastic job. I have a little breathing room with Kim and Jenni, but Ymajahi is going to be my competition next year. I'm really not looking forward that.

After these techs, Jenni was in 1st, Ymajahi was tied for 8th and Kim was 10th. Considering how amazing their competition was, this was quite a feat.

On to the 30s!

Three of us from the Unsyncables competed in the 30s.

I swam 2nd.

I don't think you can tell from this version of the video, but I got totally lost underwater on my spin. I was trying to count walls like Karen taught me, but there were so many numbers going through my head at the time I kinda gave up. Instead, I kinda picked a direction that looked right and came up with the biggest smile ever. I was sorta correct, but once on the surface I could see where I was and fixed my angle. Overall, I really needed to travel more. I only covered half of the pool before turning around to come back.

Lilia swam 5th.

Catherine swam 7th.

After the techs, Catherine was in 3rd, I was in 4th, Lilia was in 5th.

The 40s followed us.

Sylvia swam 5th. She ended up in 4th place after the techs.

Then the 50s were up.

We only had Corby from our team in this age group, but I also had to cheer on Becky from Alpine Angelfish and Michael from Cypress. Becky joined us in Australia and kinda became and honorary Unsyncable and Michael is a Cal State Games buddy.

Corby swam 7th in the age group.

After the techs, Becky was in 1st, Michael in 6th, Corby in 9th.

This year we had no one in the 60s so our Solo Tech competition was complete.

On to the Frees!

Having never done tech and free in one day, I didn't really know what to expect with the whole gelling situation. I've only gelled twice before. Karen fixed me up in Australia and I did it in our hotel room before the Cal State Games this past July. I've never, ever done it at the pool on the fly like I did at Nationals.

Lilia and Catherine were at the gelling station working on their hair so I kinda joined them. The sun was so intense that it hurt to look in the tiny mirror on the table. I ended up missing an entire section of my hair because I couldn't see what I was doing. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) I did, however, nearly manage to gel my right eye shut. And I had what seemed to be a river of gel flowing down the left side of my face. Those sideburns weren't going anywhere!

When I went in the locker room to change suits, I put my black suit on the sink to pin in my headpiece. Of course when I picked it up it had globs of gel on it. I'd need the suit again on Saturday, but I didn't have time to panic right then. Time to get back to business.

Again, we started with the 70s. In the 80s, Lizzi went 2nd.

Mariam swam 3rd, but for some reason I didn't get the video.

With all said and done, Lizzi took the gold with a total score of 59.333. Mariam took the silver with a 54.167. Excellent job, ladies!!

Now for those 20s.

Kim swam 16th.

Ymajahi swam 19th.

Jenni swam 20th.

Thankfully, there were no more music snafus. In the end, Jenni took the bronze with a 72.083, Ymajahi took 9th with a 68.167 and Kim took 10th with a 68.083. To give you an idea of how intense this age group was, Kanako Kitao did this move where she put her foot on her head then somersaulted backwards. Twice. In a row. Let's just say she was about 11 points ahead of everyone else.

Back to the 30s.

Lilia was 1st.

I swam 6th.

Catherine swam 9th.

Since I wasn't exactly thrilled with how the tech went, I decided to just do the doggone thing. I honestly cannot remember a single moment of this routine while I was in the water. When I got out of the pool I felt like I had just worked really hard.

Then of course the coughing started. Apparently, I don't do well in extremely dry climates. The same thing happened after my solo in Tucson. Since I was kind of expecting it, I'd been drinking lots of water all day. It did help a little, but I still ended up with a coughing fit that lasted for about a 30 minutes.

But back to the scores. Catherine took 3rd place with 67.521, Lilia took 4th with 63.042, I took 5th with 62.750. Considering that Catherine was freaking out the night before trying to write her routine, she didn't do a bad job at all.

In the 40s, Sylvia swam 4th. I don't have a video because I couldn't see at the time. More on that later. She kept 4th place with a 65.688.

In the 50s, Corby swam 6th right after Becky. Michael swam 3rd.

Despite some really stiff competition, Corby took 8th with a 57.579. Go Corby, Go Corby!! Becky took 2nd (66.479) and Michael took 6th (61.021).

And that was our solo competition. Overall, we had an excellent showing. We also found a major problem with the pool. The chemicals were seriously off. I'm not an expert, so I don't know details. All I know is that periodically I couldn't open my eyes at all. I can't even describe how much they burned and watered. The sun and wind didn't help matters either. The only way I could be comfortable was to sit with my goggles on. They're dark and airtight so they kept the sun and wind from irritating my eyes further. But my eyes kept watering and would fog up the goggles. It was a no win situation.

Laurette advised that I soak them in milk. Unfortunately, I didn't have any with me at the pool. I left with Catherine and Lilia after the competition was over and we got some milk cartons with a straw and headed back to the timeshare. I had no idea how to get the milk in my eyes so I improvised. I poured it in my goggles and held them to my eyes over the kitchen sink. Don't tilt your head. The milk will leak out. Blink a few times then rinse your eyes with water.

I don't know the whys or what have yous, but my eyes were instantly better. I had this cloudy haze across my vision that went completely away after the milk treatment. For best results, do the milk treatment once you're out of the sun and wind. I had to soak them again after the team free competition and it wasn't quite as effective because we were still pool side. But once the sun went down, the milk did its job. I think from now on I will keep milk with me as part of my essential swim gear.

And there you have it. Day one of Nationals.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nationals Bound!

So here we are. In fabulous Las Vegas. The timeshare is beyond magnificent. The weather looks like it'll be cool. And I almost know my tech routine. It's not that I don't know it. It's just that there've been some changes that aren't quite second nature yet. But that's okay. As long as I don't panic I'll be okay.

But enough of that. There are some pretty interesting things to see on the drive to Vegas.
First stop...Barstow Station. I had no idea this western themed area even existed. Apparently it was a major stop for the railroad. That I can believe. We were only there for about 15 minutes and three entire trains came through.

Even the McDonald's looked pretty cool.

I liked these rail cars, but I think they're restaurant seating areas now. We didn't go inside.

Back on the highway. Almost from the moment you hit the state line, you start seeing Casinos. I haven't been this way in several years and was thoroughly surprised at how much things have been built up.

First up: Whiskey Pete's. This hotel and casino has been at the Stateline since 1977 so it doesn't qualify as "built up." Still, there's a fun legend behind the hotel. Apparently Pete owned a gas station, but barely could make ends meet. To make up the shortfall, he started selling bootleg, hence the nickname. When he died in 1933, he asked to be buried standing up with a bottle of bootleg in his hand to watch over the place. Unfortunately for him, he was accidentally dug up when they built the bridge across the I15 to connect Whiskey Pete's with Buffalo Bill's.

Buffalo Bill's boosts one of the world's tallest and fastest roller coasters. They also have a pool shaped like a buffalo.

Lots of billboards line the freeway as you get closer to the strip. Le Reve looked pretty cool:

Then there was one for New Kids on the Block.

I didn't even know they were still together. Oh well. Guess you learn something every day.

Tomorrow is the solo competition. Solo techs are in the morning. Solo Frees in the afternoon. I know we're going to do well. I swam the lazy river at the timeshare backwards. That took forever, but I feel like my muscles are nice and awake. The jacuzzi with the waterfalls was the perfect end. It was nice and hot, but not too hot so I stretched my legs. Maybe my splits will be a little flatter than usual. If so, I'm totally making the jacuzzi stretch a nightly thing!

The shower after was nice, too. My hair is already up in the ponytail and waiting to be gelled. That's tomorrow. I suppose it'll happen at the pool. I don't plan to gel before I go. I hope they have the hot water. Surely they will. It only makes sense.

Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be fine and we'll have an absolutely lovely day at the pool.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Basics: Torpedo

The Torpedo Scull is a fairly fast scull. It's also used on the end of several figures like the jumpover or front walkout. To torpedo, start in your back layout just like you did for the Head First and Foot First sculls, but your arms should be above your head like this:

With your hands flexed so your palms face outward, make gentle figure 8s above your head. This should propel you feet first.

Remember, this scull is no different than any of the others in that you must keep your entire body extended. Think about stretching toward the opposite pool wall with your toes.

Keep your hips from sinking by squeezing your butt muscles up toward the sky (or ceiling if you're indoors).

Tilt your pelvis up toward your chest as if your belly button was hooked to the center flower on your bra.

If you still find that your legs have a tendency to sink, think about where your arms are. If you scull too wide, you lose a bit of the momentum and your lower body goes under. Correct this by keeping your elbows closer to each other.

It'll take some practice, but you'll soon get the hang of it and be sailing across the pool before you know it!

Happy swimming!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cal State Games

We did it! The team went to the Cal State Games to compete this past Friday and had a blast!! Several of us went down on Thursday night so we'd be there bright and early for the solo competition. Corby, Mariam and I all had solos.

Friday was a day of firsts.

I gelled my hair for the first time without Karen. I gelled Corby's hair for the first time. I was disappointed with how mine came out. It still felt spongy a couple hours later when we went to the pool. I was happy with Corby's, though. Hers hardened right away and she didn't have a helmet head.

I still needed Karen to put on my headpiece and the silver looked really nice. Now I just have to decide on the shape it should be and it'll be perfect. I was excited that even though my hair didn't have enough gel, it still held up in the water.

I actually had deck work for the first time. It really wasn't much. I totally didn't wait for them to announce me before I walked out. It's little things like that that don't even cross my mind. Gotta work on it. I dove in. Out like Corby told me, but as always, I didn't lock my knees enough so they kinda splatted in. Those two things combined kind threw me off so I don't think my opening jump was as high as it could've been.

Here's the video:

As you can see, I have to really work on holding my height for my walkout. I feel like I'm sinking like a rock. That's pretty amazing considering my buoyancy issues. The spin went okay, but my timing got off on the next strokes so I was rushed going into the porpoise. The heron was a bit on my back, but I've seen much worse out of me.

But the thing I really hate is the jump after the heron. I had a total brain fart and forgot to sink all the way under which makes that section look really awkward. Still, I kept going and finished with the hybrid Margo taught me a couple weeks before. I liked it. I just have to do it with more definition and it'll be good. The end of the routine was way too wishy washy. I have to fix that as well.

Despite all of that, I was pretty happy with that swim overall. As you can see, this routine has gotten significantly more difficult since I swam it in Australia. I'm glad I've already tried it out so I have time to fix all these things before Nationals. Like the jump where I had a brain fart. That section is totally gone. I'm going to put in some strokes instead.

On to Corby. Her hair came right down as she was warming up. Part of the problem were the heavy scrunches she had in her long heavy ponytail. Once they got wet, gravity totally took over. And I don't think the gel had enough time to set because she had strands of hair in her face. We got her fixed up before she swam her beloved Ay Jalisco for the first time in front of an audience. She did quite well. Check it out:

She's also seen the video and some things in mind to fix before Nationals. But overall, I was pretty proud of her. I'm sad she had competition in her age group so she didn't get the gold, but I really Michael, too and am happy for him. But she's my teammate and I'm going to help her kick his butt in Vegas! Nothing but love for ya, though, Michael.

Last up for the Masters solos was Mariam. I'm so glad she came. The audience was amazed, too. Most of them are parents of synchronized swimmers and they never even think that they can swim themselves. But at 89, Mariam kinda squashed their excuse that they're too old!

She swam her new routine "Doggy in the Window." I'd heard that it was totally adorable and I'd heard right. Here's her video:

After the solos, I sat with Karen to see what she sees when she judges. It was a totally different experience. And it was cool to get into the mindset of a judge so when I swim my routines, I know what they're looking at. I'm starting to feel okay about judging on my own. But I'll practice some more at our workouts.

And for the main event! The team competition! The warmup was horrendous. It was like nothing came together. And the the warmup period was super short. When we cleared the pool, we just had to hope for the best.

And we got it. It was certainly by the grace of God that we got through that routine. I smiled my little heart out at all the judges. I smiled so much at one of them, that I forgot what the heck I was supposed to be doing and totally screwed up the pointy fingers. But I was able to get back on track and went under for the spin. I think it went okay. Vickie has the video so I haven't seen it yet. When I get it, I'll post it.

On to the festivities. The Olympic team was doing a show in Riverside to raise funds for Beijing on Saturday so our competition day ended up being on Friday. That was fabulous because after the awards ceremony, we had time to go out for dinner as a team. Those who were staying headed off to Qualcomm stadium for the Opening Ceremonies.

I'm sure it was because we had all the hard part behind us, but this opening ceremony was the best ever. It was strictly fun. We arrived just in time to pick up our t-shirts and get into line to march into the stadium. It was the 20th anniversary of the Cal State Games so there were more athletes there than ever. We had to sit on the field because there were no more seats left.

Navy Seals parachuted in, a troupe danced to Ease on Down the Road, there were interviews from Olympians who were past Games participants, BMX bikers did their thing and then the Amazing Christopher made his entrance.

I only got video of part of his act, but he was hysterical. If you want to see more, he's on YouTube. If you want to book him for a gig, his contact info is on there as well. Trust me. You won't be sorry. Here's the clip I have:

Crazy, huh? He was my absolute favorite part of the Games this year. After the ceremonies, we headed back to the hotel where we chatted over dessert then off to bed. We were heading to Riverside the next day for the watershow with the Olympians.