Air-drying at 20 degrees!

From last night’s swim practice.

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Winter Swimming

Another day going swimmingly with a 50 degree difference from air temperature to pool temperature! Air: 32 degrees, water: 82 degrees. At least it’s sunny this morning!

Alex Rider comes up for air!

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Nevada State Championship Swim Meet

This past weekend was the Nevada State Championship Swim Meet. It is held every year in November, now, though used to be in February. Northern Nevada hosts it for 2 years in a row and then it moves to Southern Nevada (Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City) for 2 years. We went to the meet for the first time in Southern Nevada when it was held February 2013. Robby was 14 years old then and while he qualified to attend, he wasn’t close to making any finals. (One thing his father and I figured out this week is that it is relatively easy to qualify for the State Meet, but quite difficult to place at the State Meet) Then in November 2013, they switched to a November yearly schedule and it was also in Southern Nevada. We didn’t attend the November meet for several reasons:

  • He was taking 5 honors classes in school and it was hard enough to keep up when he didn’t miss class.
  • He had just “aged-up” in June (turned 15) and the State Championships are swum as a 15-18 group, so we realized that he really couldn’t compete well yet against all of those 18-year-old MEN! Smile
  • It would have cost about $1000 when all was said and done (lodging, food, transportation), and considering his standing, we didn’t feel it was worth it.

This year, the State Championships were here in Northern Nevada, Carson City to be exact, at the same pool most of our regular meets are held. The competition was tough. Southern Nevada has a great deal more swimmers than we have up here with some clubs numbering 600-700 swimmers total, swimming in 3 or 4 different locations! I know one of those big clubs brought a little over 100 swimmers with them for this weekend’s meet! We don’t even have that many total swimmers on our team – much less that many that qualified to swim here! With our pool issues right now, we have lost about 40 swimmers from the club, about 20 of whom had State qualification times. We only have about 86 active swimmers on the team right now, 34 of whom qualified for the State Meet.

Our pool issues – the City of Sparks Community Center Pool that we usually use for practice has been closed since the beginning of summer. The intent was to replace the ceiling and redo the venting and air circulation to prevent further mold build-up like that they are removing. (Remember, we swim indoors here since only 3-4 months/year are good outdoor swim months.) So all summer, we spread our team out among several pools, mostly outdoor, to accommodate the team practices. During summer, it was great. The kids loved getting a tan, some swam in the morning and some in the afternoon, and it was fun. Robby’s group swam in the morning for 2 hours, then did 1 hour of cross-fit training in the gym every afternoon. Then fall hit. And we got word that when the construction people removed the ceiling of the pool facility, they found structural damage to the roof! Meaning significant delays to reopening the pool! The current word is that they will open the first week of January! So in September, the group Robby is in (Varsity swimmers) moved to a pool in downtown Reno – outdoors, evening swim times (6:00-8:00 PM). It’s a nice pool as it’s Olympic size (50 meters long, 25 yards wide), but it’s outdoors and it starts cooling off in September here. It’s also a much farther drive to get to everyday.

So we swam there for September, then moved back to the pool in the Red Hawk residential community (where we swam during the summer.) Outdoor pool, 6 lanes of 25 yards. Still swimming 6-8 PM each day. October means it’s getting even colder in the evenings. And it’s dark by the time they are done swimming. But it’s much closer and they try to keep the water warmed to 84 degrees, so it’s only cold for the kids when they get out. MOST of the time. Winking smile Now that we are no longer on Daylight Savings Time, it’s dark when we ARRIVE at the pool at 6, and it’s dropping down into the 40’s by 8 PM! But, the dedicated swimmers are persevering and continuing to swim! It’s character-building, right? Winking smile

Anyway, back to the State Championship meet. As a championship meet, they swim preliminary events in the morning, then the younger kids swim in the afternoon (10 and under), and then the finalists returned around 4 to warm-up for finals starting at 5 PM. The meet started Saturday afternoon with the longer events (that Robby doesn’t swim!) and lasted until last night (Tuesday). For the 11/12 and 13/14 age groups, there were Finals (top 8 swimmers) and then Consolation Finals (next 8 swimmers), labeled A and B Finals (A being the top group.) For some reason, the older kids, 15-and-over, did 3 sets of finals, labeled A, B, and C, so effectively the top 24 swimmers were qualified to swim one of the finals heats for each event.

Robby qualified for a total of 8 events for this meet, but they capped each swimmer to a max of 7. That was OK with Robby because he didn’t want to swim the 200 Freestyle right before his favorite and best event, the 100 Breaststroke. Luckily for him, his first event on Sunday (his first day of the meet) was the 100 Breaststroke! So he signed up for:

  • 50 Freestyle
  • 100 Freestyle
  • 100 Breaststroke
  • 200 Breaststroke
  • 100 Butterfly
  • 100 Backstroke (his least favorite!)
  • 200 IM (Individual Medley)

When all was said and done, he swam all 7 events in prelims, and qualified for 4 finals events! He placed:

Event Finals Seed Place Final Place Final Time
100 Breaststroke A 5th 7th 1:02.18
200 Breaststroke B 10th 9th 2:22.69
50 Freestyle B 13th 15th 23.76
100 Backstroke!! C 24th “not last!” (23rd) 1:02.98

(Often in the A finals, swimmers who are confident they will make the A finals won’t go “all out” during prelims, so they seed lower in the finals than they “should”. Meaning that someone like Robby places higher in the prelims than in the finals, when those top swimmers swim their best.)

He also achieved new personal best times in all 7 events, added 2 Junior Olympic qualification times (bringing his total to 5) and added a second Speedo Far Western qualification time! He also achieved a AAA time in the 100 breaststroke, and is less than a second from a AA time in his 200 breaststroke.

While he really doesn’t like the backstroke, he did well, and took almost 4 seconds off his time. When asked what he placed in finals on backstroke, he’s the one who said “Not last!” Open-mouthed smile However, he said that now he wants to work harder on his butterfly, because he would rather people see him doing that, and talk about his fly times, than see and talk about his backstroke times. So he needs to take some more time off his 100 fly!

He has only really been swimming full time with the Varsity group of our team (the top group) since June 1st. People on the team, the coach and even the other swimmers, have been really talking about how far he has come this quickly. A year ago, he wasn’t really as focused on swimming as he has become since about March/April of this year. Now it is serious to him rather than just being an extracurricular activity. Sometimes during practice, coach divides the kids up into Sprinters, Midi’s (mid-distance), and IM/long distance, and tailors the sets accordingly. Robby has been in Sprinters since he joined Varsity in June – because that is where he excels. Now coach has decided to move him into the Midi group (starting tomorrow) to work on his endurance. He said he has a great, natural talent for breaking out on his starts, and does great breaking out of his turns, but he lags in his finishes. And I think what coach is also seeing is that his technique is really good now, so he can work on endurance/strength as the primary focus now instead of focusing so much on technique. (Of course, technique will always be worked on, too, just maybe not as the primary focus.)

All-in-all, a great (but long) weekend of swimming!

Sparks Piranhas Varsity Finalists

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Honolulu Arrival and Waikiki Beach!

This post is the 2nd post in a series of posts about our trip to Hawaii. You can start at the beginning by reading Trip to Hawaii starts out as an adventure.

After traveling through the snow, over the mountains, and down to San Francisco, we were able to catch our flight to Hawaii. We got to take a big jet, a Boeing 777, over the Pacific. Unfortunately, it was overcast and cloudy when we arrived in Oahu so I was unable to take any photos from the plane as we arrived.

Once we arrived in Honolulu, we took a taxi down to Waikiki to our hotel, the Ohana Waikiki Malia. It is a decent hotel, a bit older but nice, clean, and in good repair. We got a 1-bedroom suite that had 2 sofa/day-beds that provided 2 twin beds for the boys, which they appreciated. Our only complaints were:

  • We didn’t have Wi-Fi in the room; we were supposed to have hard-wired Ethernet but couldn’t get it to work. We didn’t pursue getting it fixed since we weren’t going to be here long and weren’t too concerned about not getting on the Internet right away.
  • The pool/hot tub closed at 9 PM and we were really disappointed our last night there because we got back to the hotel too late to relax in the hot tub before bed. We are used to the pool/hot tubs in hotels being open until 10 PM.
  • Dragon Rider felt like the covers on his day bed had something on them, something dust-like, that got on his pillow at night and caused him some allergies with his eyes. I helped him take the covers off the second night in a way that kept the dust off the day-bed, but he still had blood-shot eyes.

After arrival Tuesday afternoon, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the beach. It was about a 2-block walk from the hotel to the closest beach access. Later, we found that to not be the best part of the beach. But, we wanted to say that we made it to Waikiki Beach our first day! Here we are!


The Dad and Dragon Rider

Waikiki with Diamond Head

Here is the part of the beach further to the east where we spent time on Wednesday and enjoyed better.

By the time we got back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, it was late and we didn’t feel like walking a long ways to dinner. We hadn’t seen anything simple to eat on the way down to the beach, so we just ate at the IHOP that at the hotel. It wasn’t great, but at least we didn’t go to bed hungry!

Tomorrow… Pearl Harbor!

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Trip to Hawaii starts out as an adventure!

Over Spring Break this year, our family traveled to Hawaii to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary – and yes, we took the boys, too! Smile Last year, my sister-in-law and her husband had traveled to Kauai using some of our timeshare exchange points, but had not been able to do all that they had wanted. So we all decided we would go together this year! But instead of going straight to Kauai this time (like they did last year), we extended the trip a few more days and stopped in Honolulu first to see a couple of things.

Spring nope! WinterBecause of the timing of when each family bought airline tickets, we took different routes to get to Honolulu. Our family decided to fly out of San Francisco non-stop to Honolulu. That meant driving over the mountains (Lake Tahoe) to get to San Francisco for our flight. Just as fate would have it, our vacation trip became a family adventure from the get-go due to a sudden winter storm dumping 6 inches of snow on the mountain passes the night before our flight. This is typical of Reno spring-time weather – we get spring-like weather for late February and most of March, but when April comes, we get one last winter storm to remind us that Mother Nature is still in charge! Open-mouthed smile

We had a morning flight on April 1st – about 11 AM. We already had planned to drive to Pittsburg, CA and take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit – train/subway) from there to the airport, and we had planned on leaving plenty early from Reno to get there. Now with the impending winter storm coming in and hearing that the highway passes over the mountains were starting chain controls, we realized that we needed to leave Monday afternoon/evening and get over the pass that night. If we waited until morning like originally planned, the delays caused by slower traffic driving in the snow and cars stopping to put on and take off chains could potentially cause us to miss our flight. So we made a snap decision to pack up the car and head out, figuring we would find a place to stay in Pittsburg that night and make the morning trip to the airport stress-free. Luckily, we had spent Monday doing all of our packing for the trip and we were all ready to go anyway, so when I got home from getting my pre-vacation haircut and picking up Chinese food for dinner, we ate quickly and loaded up the car – the Mazda Tribute with 4-wheel-drive. (For those not familiar with snow conditions, most of the time when they have chain controls in this area, those with 4WD are exempt from needing chains. It has to be really bad snow conditions to require 4WD vehicles to use chains, too.)

It was the right decision leaving Monday night. We took our time getting to Pittsburg, got there around 9:30, and found a room at the Hilton Garden Inn for a reasonable price. Now we could really relax. We were out of the winter weather and could focus on catching our plane the next morning to wonderful Hawaii!

In the next several posts, I’ll share our photos and stories from our Hawaii trip. Smile

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