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All in a Day in Liechtenstein

posted November 21, 2006 @ 11:14 AM  |  Meets, Open Water, and Other Events category

24HLiechtDive.jpg

~by Judi Rich

As I walked in the pool area I tried to picture what it was going to be like within the next hour. Three teams per lane, swimmers diving over each other, this so called boxing in etc... 24-hours of non-stop swimming. I was about to find out whether or not all the training I’ve done for the past 2 months actually prepared me for this kind of event. Deep down I knew I’d finish—I just didn’t know how I’d finish. As I looked around and studied all the varied ages, sizes, shapes of the swimmers—I thought if they could do it, I could do it.

I knew that the first hour I had to swim 50s for 1 hour 40 minutes straight and that I would follow Dean. So, that’s exactly what I did. Every time I saw Dean get up for his 50—I knew I’d be next. And it followed that pattern until Iris came in to relieve him of his turn. At that point I knew that my turn would be ENDING shortly as well. At the beginning, I started going out way too fast (which I tend to do often), but Dean sternly reminded me to ease up because I still had another 23.5 hours to go—it took me the first hour or so to really GET that. OK, maybe the first 10 hrs. I just had to get “into my stroke” and keep that pace. Finding it was the challenge.

You start out watching your teammates (and the other swimmers) carefully. Trying to pick up strategies. However, hours start to feel like an eternity and you tend to just “zone out” between sets. Catching your breath, quenching your thirst and watching the clock to see when your turn will end so you can eat and relax for an hour or so. The person who relieves you of your turn (mine was Lars) becomes your best friend and just as the person that you relieve (Marc) has befriended you. You start to form a very special, unexplainable relationship. I was very fortunate to have Lars as my replacement—he was there every time, on-time with a big smile on his face, cap and goggles on and gave me that nod and high-five handshake that became very familiar as the hours passed.

As the meters added up and the time passed—the aches and pains also became more prevalent. My shoulder had been sore going into the race due to all the training and added yardage I’d been doing. It became very difficult to sleep on a towel on hard tile when EVERY muscle in your body (including your toes) hurt with every movement. Getting comfortable was not an option—sleep was well needed, but hard to come by. You had to be up and ready for your turn (on-time), not to mention, how extremely loud it was. Music blasting, swimmers diving, people screaming, whistles blowing, etc… Again—time to just “zone out”.

Now, I believe it was late in the night and I go back into the pool for yet another set, however this time we have a rivalry going on with the girls on the blue team. Dean is racing this one girl, I’m racing another and Thorsten racing yet another. This goes on for quite some time. I have no idea for how many 50s we continued doing these sprints, but at the time, they seemed to last forever. Finally, they ended. Time to breathe again.

Throughout the race, I had gotten smacked in the hand (twice in the same spot, my hand turned black and blue and swelled immediately), scratched and RUN over during my flip turn by tattoo guy on the red team. Yes, he apologized. I’d been ran into lane lines, pushed into the wall and kind of knocked out of the way when preparing to dive. You learn fast to hold your ground and try to stay in the middle of the lane hoping someone will go around you. That seemed to work well for me. I also learned that when I saw the younger, faster guys from the red team start coming up from behind—to try to stay with them for as long as possible to draft off of them. Every little bit counts for so much over a 24 hour period and every bit of energy saved is a precious commodity especially towards the end of the sets.

One important lesson I learned during all this was to swim your own race. To do the best that you can do and not worry about the other swimmers. Yes, at times I would sprint my 50 hoping to win against someone I’ve been trying to beat for hours—but I didn’t dwell on it (for too long). And when I felt like I needed to pull it back and just “swim” (between 2-6am)—I did. To find out later by another teammate that I did some of my best swimming in the middle of the night. Go figure.

Between everyone on our team (eight in all), each one of us endured some type of injury, a lot of pain and sleep deprivation. We all struggled through it together—a true team effort. A true test of determination, physical capabilities and one awesome experience. Would I do it again? Hell, yeah—I’ll be there again next year. This time I’ll have an edge—I’ve done it once before.

PS: Oh, and most importantly—have FUN! I did. I had a blast!

Comments...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience! And, by the way, all of us Dynoswimmers in Palm Coast knew all along you would do just fine! You earned this success through your dedication and training over the past 2 months. Life is full of challenges. Isn't it interesting that sometimes we actually seek them out? We are very proud of you Judi!

Posted by sheryl on November 22, 2006 @ 7:21 AM

Thanks, Sheryl. That means a lot. OK--now that that's done, what's our next feat?

Posted by Judi on November 22, 2006 @ 10:37 AM

Judi, thanks for your race report. You really painted a good picture of the relay and what it was like. Glad you had an awesome experience. You deserve it.

Posted by christine on November 23, 2006 @ 8:27 PM

This is Judi's husband Mike,I just wanted to say how proud lil Mikey and I are of Judi!! She trained hard and finished. Great job !!!!!!

Posted by mike on November 24, 2006 @ 1:28 PM

By the way, the girl I was racing is Katrin Eggenberger, fomer member of the Swiss National Synchro Team and an awesome swimmer in her own right.

Posted by Dean O. on November 26, 2006 @ 9:23 PM

Great race report, Judi! Thanks for this! Although it was the fourth time for me to do this crazy race , I never was so much aware about all these details which you described in a inimitable manner! By the way: after the last time it took me 4 years to forget all the pain and sleep deprivation and to say yes for this 2006 race. However, after reading your report, I'll do it again next year!

Posted by Lars on November 27, 2006 @ 8:26 AM

Lars,
Crazy race--yes, that definitely describes it well. A crazy race for crazy people. (OK, I'll speak for myself.) Wow, my story has that much influence? I feel honored. [ smiling ] And, if you'd like, I'd love for you to be my relief person again. In the meantime—swim hard, swim fast, just swim. And keep in touch.

Posted by Judi on November 27, 2006 @ 12:15 PM

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