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The Roving Reporter



A Penny for your thoughts.....

Today I turned into a giant dork. I was lining up at Starbucks during our ritual Sunday afternoon walk along the beaches boardwalk - Barbara was shoe shopping and asked me to get her a water along with my coffee. At the milk/sugar station I see a very tall 16 year old swimmer and I went into immediate ‘holy shit’ that’s her - ‘what shall I say to her?’ mode. It was my turn to order just as she was passing me to leave. Screw the order I thought - I’m going to talk to this young legendary swimmer.

Now I’m going to attempt to describe what came out of my mouth as I looked up to her - as she really is quite tall. It was the most stupefyingly cringeworthy verbal nonsense imaginable, a big “Ummm errr” were the first things out of the gate. Then what came next was actually a pretty decent choice of word and I think very appropriate, if I do say so myself.

When you’re in the presence of someone who - a few months ago won 4 Olympic medals (gold medal, silver and 2 bronze) an Olympic record holder and the Canadian flag bearer - I chose the word: congratulations. But not in a “Wow” awesome to meet you, “gosh you are fantastic” sort of way - I actually croaked it out in a rather pathetic mumble (I could sense Mr. Barista dude boring his eyes into me thinking come on you old creeper - eyes over here for your coffee and lay off that teenager). Mr. Barista - would have to wait - one doesn’t meet a 52.70 100m LC Olympic Record holder everyday.

The reason I think for the mumbled congratulations was because I had no credible follow up to the word. Things like - I’ve been around swimming for a while (so lame) - I was a member of a swim club board (too pompous and booooring), officiating (oh come on - nobody like officials) - maybe I could name drop (I raced Alex Baumann and lost - nah too defeatist), my daughter swam (so what). Are you going to worlds next year in Budapest? - Me too! (TMI). God - I couldn’t think of anything. What I did say next was awesomely pathetic. This is actually painful for me to type this… “I’m a masters swimmer and I follow swimming.” Read that again: “I’m a masters swimmer and I follow swimming.” WTF????.

I always get the feeling that when age group / competitive swimmers hear the words masters swimming they instantly think of a bunch of wannabe fake swimmers - some of them tried and couldn’t make it (in my case yes - that is spot on) and that most of them are out of shape old farts (again spot on!). So, add the words “I follow swimming” to masters swimming, you get the above plus you’re confronted with a dotty anorak wearing creeper masters swimmer.

So here in the Beaches Starbucks is a young super talented swimmer (those last 15m of her races - what the heck is that??) confronted by said dotty geezer saying he’s a masters swimmer and he follows swimming. Most would just politely say thanks and move on out. Which is actually pretty much what she did - I must say she was very gracious, seemed genuine and very polite. I sort of hung there - brain frozen - as she left. Then I wondered to myself if it was actually possible to be more of a complete and utter dork.

I turned to the Mr. (by now very annoyed) Barista and ordered the Grande Pike no room and of course totally forgot my wife’s water which of course I heard about it when I met her in the shoe shop. Small price to pay for a chance meeting the young swimming phenom. Hopefully the penny didn't drop and she has completely forgotten about the incident!




A little bit of Latin......

Ahhh yes, just as I thought,  I was deluged with tons of e-mails (actually none) asking me about the name Annus Mirabilis and why are we calling our year end party something close to an A-hole and a closed down airport outside Montreal.

Annus Mirabilis is Latin (a pretty much dead language - alive only for people in the 70s who wanted to get into certain high schools) for Year of Wonders. I'd have to say NT have had a pretty wonderful year. 

Since our last year end party held at a Grocery Store in Leaside – seems so long ago – much wonder have happened. Joining up with the state of California (Nova) and a Hard Rock (Granite) and the odd rando; owner of a spin studio and a bloke who films people in wacky swim suits - we took Worlds by storm! Smiling faces – new friends formed and a few Medals – of course with lots of walking and waiting between pools and then a scrumptious Greek nosh up to top it all off.

In fact we had some excellent representation at various swim meets throughout the year.  At a January random Long Course meet at U of T we witnessed a swimmer that we thought might have some potential and after a few words from a fellow breaststroker HB Doug - Annamay joined up (breaststokers unite!).  Our brand new sexy beast Sexagenarian - Bill - rocketed to a Canadian Record in the 200 Fly at a meet at the Pan Am pool in Markham. We also had a great turnout at Provincials and 11 fearless went to Nationals in Montreal – where we saw many medals and our Jonathan, Lolo, Harry and relays were crowned Canadian Champions.

Swimmers generally like liquid water however we did try our hand at a popular (Canadian) solid water sport – curling. It would be fair to say that we are all much better suited to swimming rather than bunging and sweeping rocks up and down lanes (although it was hugely fun!).  HB came through with wonderful pre and post curling gatherings.

We have had a few comings and goings – Our Kathy came back full on after spending years enjoying ex-pat lifestyle in Singapore. Alejandro joined us from Costa Rica.  We said goodbye to our intrepid journo of the cool and hip – Julia. Then life brought us a baby shark (uncommonly known as a pup) called Lochlan, Sabrina became all matrimonial, and a couple of others are in a family way – one way of sneaking extra people into swim practice.

So an Annus Mirabilis it certainly was – and hopefully many more to come!


The Past and the Present...

Wow it’s been a while. Spring - I last wrote something about swimming.  So much has happened in the wonderful world of Masters swimming since.  Summerville opened on time (!) and we had lovely painted washrooms and a nice sandpaper like deck that are quickly destroying the lane ropes – but we won’t slip. 

The World Championships in Montreal went off swimmingly – in fact I had an article all fired up and ready to go to the editor – but I didn’t like it. It was too snarky about the naysayers and whiners.  Now I’ve had time to reflect I think the meet was like all other meets – some enjoyed, a few not so much.  Personally I thought it was FUN – I ended up embracing the 12minute warm up walk to the temp pool.  The fun part was meeting people from all over the world all with the same interest.  I got into a deep philosophical conversation with an Egyptian septuagenarian – we actually solved world peace during warm-up.  I think many of us enjoyed the French team’s ‘look’ with their donning and doffing of their unique leggings and as luck would have it I had the same German (Jurgin) next to me in 2 events – obviously he sandbagged his entry times and smoked me both swims.  We had a nice chat and I met his Dad.

It was also great to catch up with NT alumni Christina from Oz and enjoying our newest German part timer Britta - who trained with us at Summerville.  5 days of just enjoying being around our blended (NT, Nova, Granite) team of 68 swimmers.  The highlight was definitely relay day – so many fast fun swims!  Big thanks to Coach Doug for sorting all the relays – that was a monumental job – but nary a beep of discontentment.  Nicely done.

So we are well back in the swim of things into the 3rd month of training and now the fun grueling aerobic sets begin.  A few new faces around – but great to see most are back! Our coaches return; Dave still has his s**t eating grin as he whips out his stopwatches and barks “2,1 hup”, Jen with her sets that are always creatively challenging and announced so ‘quietly’.  Warren – our resident techniquey dude and breast stroke expert, Judy – happy to give tough main sets with a smile (!) and Suzy that proves that power coaching comes in all sizes.  Our HB Coach Doug always with the highly informative speech followed by his fav heart rate and critical velocity sets both designed in the end to make you speak in babble and make your head wobble - and in my case go beet red.

I am now celebrating my 10th year with NT (!) and I can say that we really have something special going on here – the challenging workouts, the coaching, team mates, competitions, Yitz’s and all the other stuff.  In my travels I always try to ‘pop’ into a masters program/club wherever I go - most of you know that I am a ‘bit’ of a swim geek/nerd.  But I’ve yet to encounter a bunch of lovely chlorine addled loons like us!

Looking forward to many more years of fun, fitness and friendship (which happens to be THE Mission for Ontario Master Swimming!

…Stay tuned for the announcement of our annual Holiday Party.

NT went All Out

This article is about the All Out meet last Saturday but I must get something off my chest first (I apologize for this sort of “disconnect” in advance):

 Humans have been land animals for a zillion years but before that apparently we were sea creatures for about a bazillion years and decided for inexplicable reasons to start evolving into some sort of newt.  We crawled around the mud for a bit then grew arms and legs, eventually becoming baboons (My wife constantly reminds me of my familiarity at this phase) then we learnt to walk upright then eventually to run (usually away from something that would eat us - a wooly mammoth - or towards something to eat - a wooly mammoth. Then in the big scheme of things a few seconds ago (the last 100 years) or so we invented the bike and started to ride it.

 Being a swimmer I’ve have often argued that an equilateral triathlon would be the fairest for all the sports – equal “Quality” time spent in each of the events. However the more swimmerish I become - I’m getting much more enamored with the idea of an Evolutionary Triathlon…so we have swimming for ~2 hours, running for 10 minutes or so and then get on and off a bike as fast as possible.  No expensive bike necessary – as you don’t have to ride it – just sit and get off. Now that is my kinda triathlon.

 (OK here I am going try and connect the above with the rest of the article – I know it’s reaching here)

 Speaking of triathlons, we had many of our triathlete cousins join us for a proper swim meet this past weekend – The 2014 All Out meet. It was easy to spot them – ‘interesting’ starts, open turns and trying to wander into an adjacent lane so they could bonk the other swimmer on the head, swimming over them for a quick drowning or more likely the case - pinch their draft.  They also have a tendency to wear the most expensive or most bizarre looking goggles out there and you could see them all fretting because they couldn’t wear their floaty expensive wet suits – any edge - I suppose.

 I actually thought it was wonderful to see them all, however they do tend to clog up the 800s and 400 events but who cares.  Truth be told I actually like and admire Triathletes – shhh.

 NT was very well represented with 41 registered swimmers – the biggest team on deck!  We had some special swims and in all the meanings of the word special.  Here are some high/low lights:

 Long Course is a treat for us all especially after 7 months training short course.  UofT had graciously hoisted an abundance of Grand Steinways to the ceiling ready to crash down on many of our swimmers.  First event was the 100 fly – piece of cake eh? - 2 lengths - puh!  Leslie C. and I had a couple crash down on us at various points in the 2nd length. It must have been quite amusing to watch and in the same breathe a warning for those about to swim. 

 The feeling of the Steinway is a bit surreal – a sudden loss of control of all the bits that make forward motion in the water possible.  Brain tells arm to stroke.  Arm is refusing all commands.  OK - screw you arm.  Plan B - Brain tells legs to kick.  Legs tell brain to “Eff off” as well. The only thing working is breathing and too much of it.  This is not Church of Doug.  This is Church of Dave at 10:14.48 PM on the last 50 of a typical Wednesday night. It is ugly.

 Good first swims (for a number of years) Jason’s brother Marc dominated the first 100 of his 400 – going out in an impressive 1:09, before he realized ‘shit! there’s 3 more of those to do and holy crap that one really hurt…!’

 Jen E was all school girl giggly and clearly chuffed as she “officially” made the worlds cut-off time for 100fr - 1:13 to easily qualify.  BTW for the record - you can estimate your times for worlds – you do not have to qualify per se - but if you swim over the Worlds qualifying time at Worlds your time just does not show up in the official results. 

 Kelly was very impressive and the crowd roared (well at least her lane mate Anne anyway) at her goggle ditching maneuver at the start of the 200 back.  Somehow her start was so incredibly violent and fast that her goggles simply flew off the top of her head.   With that she screamed in at a blistering 3:05 for a 1st place and a 54 second improvement on her seed time – Now THAT is swimming fast.

 You will be happy to also know that NT had THE Fastest swimmer at the meet – bar none.  Ryan TR (Havargal) set down a reedonkulous (I know there is now such word – as the red squiggly line tells me) - but really a 24.92 50fr LC….wah??? That’s what is known as a Splash and “TAKE THAT” Dash…ooh yeah baby.

 We also had the most masochistic swimmer - Peter B - swimming the 100fly,400IM, Relay,200IM,50fly and topping it all off with a 800Fr. Or is it just LC lengths value for the money?  Knowing our Mr.Bodi he did the NPV and ROI of each length vs. registration cost!

 I would be remiss in not mentioning that there were key coaches and members of NT who helped out with the organization of this meet.  Phillip C – who for years did the organizing of this impeccably organized meet almost singlehandedly passed the responsibility over to Alec and Alisa – who did a marvelous job (under very trying circumstances out of their control – the late start / finish time, followed by the timing equipment snafu).  Also Mel and her husband Tom did the food and announcing.  Note: the Wine Gums rocked Mel!

 An excellent meet getting us all pshyced for Worlds in August.  So back at it gang – we have to start training really well now for Montreal!! Let’s bring it on!


Planes, Trains and Automobiles and a friggin’ Bicycle

 Getting to a swim meet is usually a fairly straightforward proposition: find out who’s going - and either take them or snag a ride from them.  For provincials this year Steve Martin and the late John Candy would be impressed. Windsor – a destination with an excruciatingly boring drive along the 401 was tackled by our small but intent cadre of NT swimmers (12) in various ways.  Train was popular choice and if you were really forward thinking Porter flew there $200 return.

 A bunch took the car. Two cars in fact.  Two very different cars.  One was a gas sipping hybrid Toyota Prius and the other was a honking gas guzzler Brampton built Chrysler 300 with a 5.7L V8. Luckily I was in the behemoth and it was like sitting on your living room couch with heated - and cooled – seats.  It was also equipped with a really neat thing called adaptive cruise - it works like this - Chris (my driver!) sets it for 115km/hr when we get on the 401 in Toronto, and he doesn’t have to touch the brake or gas pedal until he hits Windsor.  It slows down and speeds up depending on what’s in front – amazing!

 By extension wouldn’t adaptive cruise control during swim races be sweet?  Just set it on the fast bloke in the heat and in the last 20 meters or so take it off and floor it.  We’ve all tried this I’m sure - the “flooring” bit is always tricky.  In many cases it usually involves a sharp WTF response from the engines, in the form of a concrete like substance being mainlined into your arms and legs.  On rare occasions the engines actually deliver and catapults you into that glorious “nothing can stop me now” giddiness until you hit the wall and look at your time.  Then reality and nagging self-doubt kicks in:  “shit should have / could have floored it sooner”.

 Anyway whether you are riding high in a Porter Smash 8 - or as they call them now a Q400 , or hurtling (!) along on a Via rail Bombardier or a Toyota Prius / Chrysler 300C . You are sure to encounter the random out of nowhere supersonic jet, a maglev train (ummm well maybe not so much) or a Corvette ZR1 or dare I say a GTR with perhaps a swimordi license plate afixed.  Well this happened to my age group this past weekend. But it was a bike. Yes a bike.

 Some rando British dude from Michigan dropped by and ate us all for lunch.  He was swearing a blue streak …“Blimey, Crikey, Balls and much worse” as he exited the pool after laying down a 54.74 in the 100 free. After I sauntered in almost 6 whole seconds later – I asked him what was up – he told me he missed the European record by 1 hundredth.  He then started to moan about the weather and that he wasn’t supposed to be swimming anyway - but riding his bike.  He’s a cyclist who dabbles in swimming when the weather is inclement. His feats of lane swimming ‘once in a while’ – max 3k yards with 80+ year old floaters during the winter was supposed to impress me.

 Angered me more like but there was a little silver lining: I kinda relished in some schadenfraud – 2 of my rivals who consistently top my age group where taken down a notch – sweet.

 Anyway we had some great swims with our small team.  Newbies to masters swim meets were especially awesome.  Chris H almost reached his absolute physical limit – at a few points after his races it looked like he would spontaneously implode/combust/collapse all at once - despite all that he was Provincial champion twice. 

 Karen S (Havargal) was tempted to finish off a 100 fly in a unique Dairy Queen (DQ) way with a last length of freestyle - however she persevered and finished legally.  This is a good thing because she is a lawyer, and as we all know if a lawyer does anything wrong they have to be struck off - you know forced to leave The Bar(!). 

 Jamie (Havergal) was in fine form after not winning anything at the Casino – he rattled off some super swims and was especially helpful on the relay squad.

 Heather C and Suzy C (not a newbie) - both Havergal - looked fabulous in their swim suits and races and both came away with a silver in the 100IM and Heather another Silver in the 200 IM and helped NT dominate the relays.

 Coach Doug came back after a few years off and showed us all a well-tanned excellent breast stroke in all the 3 “breast is best” events, again he had some dude out of nowhere deny him his usual spot on top of the podium.

 MJ, Mel and Jonathan where all in top form after their secret chocolate milk diet kicked in (instead of the beer I offered them – this is for real - ugh!). The Zuzana / MJ continued their rumble rivalry in the pool – Zuzana took it this time.  But watch out I think MJ is using some interesting hidden yoga killer kindness strategy – something smells here – stay tuned.

 For those that don’t know: Many times we have Harry B join us for meets (he does not train with us) – he is in the 75 age group and kicks ass.  He had a super meet adding tons of points to our tally.

 More fast swimming in the works: we have the All Out meet this Saturday and NT is sure to rock with the largest team registered at 41.  Go Team!


Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’

 …as the Steve Miller Band sang. 

We are well into the 2013 – 2014 swim season. I am now in my 9th year swimming with North Toronto and starting my 3rd age group as a Masters swimmer. 

 I recently read an article written by our British Honorary NT Member - Joe Twyman - he once deigned to swim with us a few years ago.  In it he prattles on about how he is such a brilliant swimmer with the fastest club in Britain etc  - Much like NT is in Canada.  But there is one line in his blurb that caught my eye: "And of course the older you get, the better you used to be. (A statement that has been heard from a certain NT Coach for years..) It’s depressing but quite true. That Colorado / Daktronics / Omega timing system doesn’t give a shit about your age or anything else.  In swimming, you can’t buy off a French or Russian judge or perhaps wear a fancy suit and swim your 200 fly to Queen’s “Another one Bites the Dust” to impress the judges and get a better time. That’s the hard – beautiful - reality. 

 You are part of a very un PC and extremely elitist sport. 

Only the best swimmers win - period.

 Even coming to an NT practice you are subjected to keeping up with the pace times and Dave’s infamous stopwatch.

 There are soccer and hockey leagues that don’t keep track of goals to encourage participation and not to upset the feelings of the crappy players or teams.  Some Schools have even abolished academic awards – to placate the dim.  A whole High School football team was accused of bullying because they beat another team 91-0.  It seems all around us there are powerful nanny types at war with one of the basic human instincts - the competitive spirit - for fear of hurt feelings.

 Imagine having a swim meet where times aren’t recorded…where you just swam “with” everyone in a supposed ‘utopian’ setting. Of course there will be no clocks or judging. Oh a little breaststroke to rest a bit while doing a backstroke event – no problem. Flip turns in a breast stroke event – why not? Fly is too tiring” – that’s ok just swim some freestyle. Aaah that feels warm and fuzzy doesn’t it. Erm No. It’s a totally absurdist and a waste of time (pun intended). 

 Swimming is a ‘pure’ sport and is blind to age, sex, nationality, culture etc and it is completely judgmental (ask your Coach and Stroke & Turn Judges).  Of all the factors affecting sports and swimming is no different is that creeping insidious age thing. Over the years we get slower because we get more decrepit and withered. Take for instance the results of the US LC Masters Championships: only three(!) 70 year olds went under 30 seconds for a 50m free LC, then four 65 years olds and a whopping thirteen (13) 60 year olds went under 30 (yup it was a fast meet!)

 However there is good news: You can’t fight age - it’s like the pace clock or Dave’s stopwatch, you cannot get around it – it just “is”. But how about this - you can boast about your “fitness age” Check this out . Make sure you hit the fitness age calculator.  Neat eh!? I bet the majority of NT swimmers are actually in their 20’s fitness wise.  Sweet!

 As Joe quoted in his article we swimmers are just managing our decline in an orderly fashion and is something healthy to do in our precious spare time. We might as well have fun training and racing – winning and losing - it’s all part of the reason we do it.  Getting that heart rate up, pushing the limits – it is incredibly satisfying and especially so when it’s over!  Then we can all trundle off to Yitz’s to moan and gloat about it over lox and eggs.


Summer Swimming part 2

Imagine this scenario: You have just gone back to masters swimming after a good 15 years of sitting behind a desk looking at a screen and pushing buttons on a keyboard.  Your wings and body are sore and a little rusty – but things seem much more buoyant.  Then you go for a swim at some random beach and think “wow this would be a great place to host an open water swim”.  You might think this and promptly take another sip of your post swim beer and forget about it. Well here’s the thing: Our Steve made the mistake of talking about his little beach swim with his buddy Bill and out popped the Inaugural Toronto Island Lake Swim literally out of thin air.  Steve and Bill used their extensive social media skills (15 years of sitting behind a desk??) and Facebook to build the event up from nothing to something that far exceeded their own expectations.  It was close to being sold out and well over 230 swimmers took to the chilly lake to swim 1.5 or 3.8km on a beautifully warm August Sunday morning.

The Toronto Island Lake Swim Facebook page is quite a fascinating read, the swim was sold as a return to bygone ages of marathon swimming events that were huge in the ’20s and ‘30s.  Steve posted pictures of hundreds of people frolicking in the lake.  There is a great 1930 picture of women scandalously (?) starting the marathon race topless (we reckon it was due to the chaffing on the woolen swim suits).  Needless to say the crowds were huge for the start of this race!

On the topic of swim wear or lack thereof – here is my wee rant and you’ve probably heard it before and my apologies before hand – all Triathletes please take umbrage: Back in the day when there was no global warming and swim suit technology consisted of the finest wool weave, people swam in the lake regardless of the temperature of the water. Even today people regularly swim across Lake Ontario, the English Channel and even the North Pole without wet suits. 

So along come these landlubber Biking / Runner types - all scrawny slow twitch legs, bereft of fat or lats -  they can barely swim and have to somehow get through the rather arbitrary annoying but ‘oh so gruelling’ 0.75,1.5 or 3.8k ‘wet bit’.   They promptly make up a rule where they allow themselves to wear floatation devices that makes swimming more akin to prone paddleboarding.  Not only are they paddle boarding but they are toasty warm and can whizz by actual swimmers

Triathlons - more like biathlons with that small wet, weird bit at the start.

Sorry about that.

Anyway the Toronto Island Lake Swim took the Olympic and Ironman swim distances to attract both triathletes and swimmers.  There were lots of wet suit wets and proper ‘naked’ swimmers. There were also many people (like me) who had never swam in the lake before and were concerned about the temperature. Some had even rented or bought wet suits – just in case.  Prior to the big day Bill and Stave communicated the water temperature through Facebook almost on a daily and hourly basis, we were all expecting a balmy 68def F on swim day. Steve pulled me aside just before the race and said that he swam at 11:00PM the night before while setting up the buoys and it was 68F.  He confessed the temperature dropped a whopping 8 degrees overnight. He said it was now 62 – using his best Swim Director math. Lake Ontario’s sense of humour came through, the lake likes to “turn over” on a whim and temperature fluctuations are drastic and unpredictable. Being a purest I eschewed the black shiny attire (aforementioned rant) and figured if it got too cold I’d stop and get out – much like the Lake Ontario relay swimmers.  As it turned out – I did get cold and after the race I put a hoodie (Thank you Michael B) to warm up.  So – in my opinion - there was absolutely no need for wet suits.  But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who wears what, it was a super day and everyone had a blast!

We had a good chunk of NT swimmers: Mel, Emily, Michael, Katie (alumni), Miranda (future), Sarah M, Sarah O, Peter, Paul, Jill, Ryan, Sue M, Anne G, Gord swim both the 1.5 and 3.8K swims and we all had a blast.  A great big thanks to Steve and Bill for organizing an extremely well planned, fun swim!


Summer of Swimming

 Well that was quite the summer of swimming! First off the aptly(?) named Summerville was unavailable for half of the Summer (Halfsummerville?).  I had heard rumours of millions of $ allocated to Somerville in 2012 for upgrades so I was expecting brand new EVERYTHING. The first day of practice we were over whelmed (?) with a brand new cement deck.  Everything else was exactly the same – grungy old change rooms, sketchy hand written signs all over the place telling people not to do things, clapped out sunken lane ropes etc etc. so perhaps the millions had not all been spent.  Michael did remark to me that the deck was impressively identical to the previous deck – I had to concur.  I did some research (actually read a sign on the door and it is now posted) - The city has dedicated $3.75M to upgrade the filter system, re-finish the deck, reline the pool / fix the coping, put up umbrellas and re-model the change rooms.  This is all to be done by 2015. So they only did the deck - they had 43 weeks to do it - and it took them 47 weeks.  Wow. I guess this is stopping the gravy train writ large.  Maybe the urinals will be replaced for next year’s installment and it’ll take 48 weeks.  Can’t wait to see that!

 The city - in its generous way of giving back - has extended the pool season by one WHOLE week!  Hopefully if Doug gets enough people interested we can have a couple more practices.

Anyway enough of my cynical sarcasm (unfortunately there is a wealth of that when I think “City”).  The first month of swimming NT was ‘permitted’ the Greenwood pool – in the heart of Little India.  A charming 50 yard anomaly with no lane ropes or back stroke flags – but quite nice change rooms.  We all enjoyed a quasi-open water experience with yards as a bonus. We had a wonderful breakfast after one Saturday at a funky café (Lazy Daisy’s) at Coxwell and Gerrard and topped it off with a fantastic “Indian” or rather “Pakistani” gorge fest at Lahore Tikka after the last practice.  It must be said I was dead against this venue because it lacked a liquor license – and there in nothing quite like a cold beer after a tough workout.  But Chris and Jen convinced me and the Tikka hit the culinary spot and the nonalcoholic Thums Up was a half decent substitute to the beer.

OK now - I have a confession to make.  I switched teams.  No - not in that way – I am still happily married.  I swam at a swim meet for Nova - an Irvine, California based Masters swim team. There I said it.  I joined up by stealth hoping to go under the radar – but the HB knows all, found out and confronted me.  Luckily our host (a fellow die hard NTer and also a member of Nova) was standing right next to me and attempted to save me - Michael said they needed me for relays! Phew … kinda (I still feel the guilt). A bunch of us NT + NT alumni went to US Masters LC Championships in Mission Viejo and swam for Nova. We actually helped them out quite a bit.  Katie (NT alumni) cleaned up placing 1st,2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in her events; Sue, Anna, Chantal, Michael, Jonathan and myself placed in top 10 finishes in many of the swims and along with all the relays we managed to give Nova plenty points. The Coach of Nova (Mike Collins) was so impressed that he offered to team up with NT for Worlds next year in Montreal!  So NT now have a sister team in California!  If you are ever in SoCal check them out – 35 practices a week – outdoor 50M/25yd swimming all year round!

 Hope everyone had a great summer.  This coming year is B.I.G.  We have Worlds coming up in Montreal and hopefully we will have a FULL contingent from NT to swim for all the World.  So lots of training ahead to get prepped - it’s going to be a big year!


Swimmer Occupations

Swimming attracts all types.  I am often amazed at the breadth of occupations swimmers have. Take our little microcosm at NT pool. 

Let’s see if you can guess who some of these swimmers are by their occupations:

·         A bloke who tells people it’s dangerous to run with scissors

·         An analyzer of loan sharkees (and a fanatical point collector)

·         Fellow who decides whether to give you dental/health coverage

·         An altruistic lawyer who disputes and fights that coverage

·         Another altruistic lawyer (!) – that distributes law to the needy.  

·         2 more altruistic lawyers (!!) from down east – bye. One of them could perhaps get you unfired/fired – the other defends the downtrodden

·         A US expat Big Blue employee who votes red

·         A “Brander” – she of the red hot branding iron – she knows her brands!

·         Head hunter for drug pushers (legal of course)

·         Aficionado of obscure teaching certificates

·         Lightning doctor

·         Couple of fun(d) types who dig a big wind up the arse

·         Canadian Tire IT guy who speaks sku

·         A retired German teacher who is English

·         An English teacher who is most definitely not English (Jaysus!)

·         A French teacher with a Victorian name

·         A Phys Ed teacher who does breast stroke (!)

·         A double barreled nurse with an odd accent

·         Couple of bankers: one at Scot -ia bank the other at saRBina-C

·         Mustache farmer

·         Hot for tartar and tooth extraction

·         A veep of headhunters

·         A wordsmith at a Women’s magazine

·         She prattles on about gluons, quarks and bosons at a University

·         He prattles on about liberals, their arts and history at a College

·         He’s going to sell you a Canada Goose Jacket at Yonge & SL

·         He REALLY knows your Reverse Polish Notation HP calculator. He also swims very fast in reverse.

·         A UofT retiree – now an expert swimsuit, cap and goggle picker upper

·         A couple of credit card people - definitely not Visa

·         An actual real Firewoman!

 Kinda wide ranging bunch – eh!  The one thing we have in common is that for 4.5 hours a week we like to take our clothes off and swim inches from each other.  Weird.

 OK now I have an announcement: 


 Four of us went to Provincials this past weekend in London and had a blast.  Many people asked me a the same question – Where is the rest of NT?  I mumbled things like All Out meet and Easter weekend, pretty pathetic really…

 So next year – somewhere around mid – end of March 2014 – NT as a WHOLE team is going on a road trip to Windsor for the Provincial Championships.  End of Story - BOOK IT.  It’ll be a great warm up to Montreal – FINA Worlds in July/Aug.


Fun in the sun…Provincials

Well (some) of our coaches have been off to the sun training and coaching in the past couple of months.  All was not tickety boo though: Our Warren went for what he thought was a nice little ocean swim but somehow managed to touch a Lion Fish with his foot – extremely painful. Under the watchful eye of EMS Doug and a very quick trip to the hospital, where the cabbie was not happy about the wet seat left behind. The  Doctor treating him was the sister of a Olympic swimmer and conversation quickly turned to swimming as Warren laid in antagonizing pain. His new nickname is the 'Lion King'. We wish Warren all the best as he is off to Florida for the US Grand Prix. Swim fast Lion King!! 

Last year I was lucky enough to be a chaperone with the Scarborough Swim Club. One of my jobs was to drive the swimmers to the pool in Mission Viejo California.  What was the chaperone to do while the swimmers swam?? Well swim of course!  For me it was probably one of the best trips ever. Swimming in a 50 meter outdoor pool, good challenging sets – able to push some of the swimmers - nothing like and old geezer going fast than you to get some of the kids going!  Plus I was able push myself - definitely some good intergenerational competition.  I also had a blast with the kids, coach and his family.

As a swimmer – I think a swim vacation or training camp in a hot climate is one of the most fun things ever.  Last week I went to Punta Cana for a week with my wife and another couple.  Ostensibly it was to celebrate a significant birthday – but really it was just an excuse to be pampered and enjoy some good downtime.  We got the pampering all right – we stayed at a wonderful all inclusive.   My ulterior motive was a mini swim training camp: I managed to get in some decent swims: usually a 3.5K nice aerobic swim in the morning in the wonky shaped resort pool (google maps had the bit I was swimming measured at 32.3M) – with no line on the bottom of the pool - one has to navigate straight lines with the underwater drains, steps and skimmers.  In the afternoon I swam in the sea for about 2-3K – This time it was easy – I would swim along a lane rope the resort has extending about 1K, 25M off shore to keep the boats out.  So the vacation had everything: swimming, food, drink, exercise, entertainment, excellent company and fantastic staff - I swear they give them all happy pills – they were so friendly and accommodating.  But there was one small exception – a dearth of fellow swimmers to enjoy the swims with.  I was thinking that maybe next year we should organize a week/10 day somewhere nice for a “training” camp …? Let’s chat...

Hey the Big Swim meets are coming up quickly starting with Provincials:  Easter weekend – Thu-Sat, Mar 28-30 in London.  I know a  bunch are planning to attend – hopefully we can have lots of NT people come out.  This time the meet is being held at the new University of Western Ontario pool.  The “away” meets are really great fun.  Last time it was held in London in 2009 we really had a blast! 

The hotel is in the centre of lots of action!  I’ve just booked a room at the hotel (same as last time http://www.stationparkinn.ca/ – a suite for $109). I couldn’t hold a block so please book fast as the rooms are filling up the special rate confirmation code can be found here: http://www.2013provincialchampionships.com/Accomodations/tabid/943/Default.aspx


The Brain and the Church

The other day I had a chat with a lane mate of mine, we chatted about brain chatter.  Sometimes we’re being kept awake at night because of the racket going on in our heads.  We wake in the middle of the night with trivial issues being discussed inside our heads that is so absolutely miniscule in the cold hard light of day – but apparently at 2:52AM is a monumental dire emergency.  The other night I was kept awake by the earth shattering fact that I may have forgotten to PVR Modern Family for next week’s episode.  I actually had to get out of bed to check.  Pathetic.  

 My son – in his philosophy course – got me onto a fascinating TED Talk with Jill Botle Taylor (it’s 20 minutes long - but very interesting). In the talk she tells the story about herself - a brain scientist - experiencing a stroke. You’ll learn that the right side of the brain - the creative part - is completely spaced out and is on a constant Acid trip, the poor old left brain is there to sort everything out and try to make sense of it all – then it’s got to find somewhere to store all the information in retrievable files somewhere.  The sides are constantly “talking” to each other through the corpus callosum – a sort of HDMI monster cable that links the hemispheres.  Seems we have a rough time of it if one side or the other shuts down (watch the video).

 As a Masters Swimmer - you come to practice after a hard and/or easy day at the office; in meetings, talking with IT, feeding the birds, … whatever.  It would be fair to say at a Saturday morning practice the brain of the average NT swimmer would be fairly compromised – a week of work followed by an evening of “stress relief”. So we arrive on deck with brain chatter probably still going on about work - what the boss meant by not washing his coffee cup and cleaning the counter for the 6th time after he was politely asked to do so.  And at home - what did little Johnny mean by disposing of his chewing gum on page 49 of my book, Fifty Shades of Grey – wait he must have been reading it…erm why am I reading it? According to Mark Gundar, arguably it is harder for women to control this constant brain chatter.   Men supposedly can retreat into one of his many boxes. The minute you hit the water – you should try to get into the “swim box” if you are a man.  Or if you are a women – to somehow concentrate the mess of wires driven by emotion - on “swimming”.  

 Swimming Coaches have been trying to tap the “swimmers brain” however it’s configured by working on the right brain - “spatial awareness” - and left brain “learn it, repeat it” by the use of drills.  Most swimmers I know groan at the mention of the word.  But it certainly has been proven over the last 100 years or so of modern competitive swimming. If you can tell your brain to shut the fudge up already and concentrate on Tarzan, Cheetah and Fisting then you will have super turnover, nice relaxed recovery and a great forearm pull when swimming.  Do this often enough and you will burn it into the brain circuitry causing the cerebellum (the little brain that coordinates movement) to respond with a perfect your stroke no matter what physical and mental state your body is in.

 The Church of Doug is a good example of how effectively “hardwired” your drills are.  When the Church is full session the inner chat is going bonkers. Half way through an “Almost to Failure” set – The streaming chat goes something like this: If I swallow another mouthful – I’m going to throw up and stop.  How come Sarah is still on my ass – why can’t I keep up with Bodi, I can’t swim anymore – I’m going to die.  My arms ache, I hate my life.  I’m too old for this. Why can’t I swim smarter and faster? Shut up and swim dickhead.  Oh God…. THIS – 11 more times.  My bones are too heavy I’m sinking – my mom has big bones I wonder if they’re heavy.  I can’t breathe.  Crap is Dave looking at me. He’s got his bloody stopwatch out. I pay good money to feel like this.  Is this dying? I’m swimming like a sloppy joe. What’s a sloppy joe? Stretch those arms, damn they hurt, strong pull, ouch. Don’t breathe off the turn – dang just did – I’m dying.  Phelps breathes every stroke, ergo I can – but I’m not Phelps. I wish I could be Phelps. But girls don’t like Phelps? They like that monosyllabic troglodyte Lochte - why?  Stop thinking crap – Just Swim HARD dammit. Not one more stroke…and on and on it goes. Then when it’s all over and you’ve just come out of Church and you’re barely standing - coughing up a lung.  You may get a satisfied smirk from the coach and a “hey, nice swim guys” from your lane mates. Your brain goes into some sort of exuberant rationalization mode.  Right brain is shouting “You’re alive, you did it”, “That was just great!”, “Let’s do it again” and “Isn’t life wonderful”.  The poor left side is totaling the damage done to your body and trying to shut things down, muscles mostly – including that frickin’ racket from the right side. OK, just put these brain boxes, brain noise and chatter and aside and you realize this Church is very inclusive, taking in all people:  Those who drill properly by busting through all the chatter to really concentrate on body position, the water feeling and stroke technique and those that don’t - and use drill sets to try and engage the chatter. History has proven it - at the end of the day the difference separating them will be simply swim “speed”.

By the way from the RR: Have a super time over the holiday break and we’ll get nice and wet all together next year!


So, What are these new coaches like then?

Today’s little number has to do with our new coaches.  This year has seen a little bit of a change up in the coach roster department.  Not only do we have our regular excellent staff but we have some new additions:

Coach Alisa’s new husband Alex was hired on just after their marriage this past summer.  The message here perhaps - you want to be an NT coach? Then marry one.  Anyway at Summerville I was at the sharp end of one of Alex’s quips.  Something about me not swimming fast enough – I had to ‘pick it up’.  Fair enough.  One can never swim fast enough.  So I did what any self-respecting Masters Swimmer does - ignore – carried on my usual doddle thinking he would forget all about me and wander over to chat with his lovely wife.  Not a bit of it – he kept on me.  He said yet again “pick it up – higher turnover”.  He had me.  OK buddy here I go – and off I went full tilt.  Now I thought - I’m going faster at the beginning - he’s not going to notice me slacking off after the first 50/75 all out. Damn it! there he was again – all up in my face again.  All my internal moaning and groaning aside…Alex was just doing his job and I paid damn good money to get a good work out and by ‘eck he gave me one.

 Same can be said of our other new Coach, Dave.  It was 8:44.15 PM on a Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago when a booming voice rattles off a complicated warm-up set. Wha wha wha… as people scrambled to don cap and goggles.  30 seconds later and off we splashed right at the stroke of 8:45.  The swimming did not stop until 10:14.35PM.  Then we got to warm down. Apparently earlier in the season he actually tried to start on a “yellow top” as it was the next hand to reach the top. Howls of indignant outrage ensued  - as you all know leaving on the Yellow top is a most heinous crime at NT and is only permitted at the first and last workouts of the season and this is only done as a sop to the reviled and detested yellow (pissy?) hand - he soon he got the message.  Dave does dual stop watches and uses them religiously – loudly proclaiming our pathetically slow times for all to hear.  Dave is another excellent coach!

 Our other new coach is Warren, the only time he coached me - JR was leading the group so I have no experience of his direct coaching but it must be said – I am deathly scared of this new Warren.  He spent his formative swimming years with the Scarborough Swim Club - of which I am the vice President.  I knew his coach well and I know for a fact Warren was subjected to a variety of grueling sets.  How about a 10,000 timed all out, or this fun one; 50m long course underwater no breath you can’t practice until you complete it – this after a 7,000m workout.  Now since Scarborough he has done time with University of Pittsburgh (4 years) and most recently with JR and the High Performance Team at U of T as a National Team Canada Swimmer. He is off to Turkey in December, to swim at the World Short Course Championships. But still – I am wary of that nice guy quiet demeanor, we could be in for an interesting fun ride.

 All in all a super addition to the crew at NT.  PBs here we come.


NT really can’t drown now

 They open the gate and let you in. They smile at you. They sit and watch you. They glance at the clock. Sometimes they gaze trancelike at nothing. They breathe. They take the odd deep breath. They may look at you and perhaps initially think – “Wow these old farts are pretty good swimmers – in fact they’re better than me!”  Then the novelty wears off I’m sure and they go back to their semi torpor – but ever ready leap into action when something or someone ‘goes down’. Such is the vocation of a lifeguard at a masters swim practice. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big supporter of lifeguards. They save lives - even when they’re not supposed to

 Back in the day - I was a lifeguard. Lifeguard Smelty was a solitary guard at a now abandoned provincial park in Eastern Ontario. I somehow conned my way through the Bronze Medallion – at the time this was all one needed to be a lifeguard. I lifeguarded at a campground – with no one to ‘relieve’ me. I had to shut the pool just to go for lunch and bathroom breaks. This is 1982. Nobody drowned, I fixed a few boo boos – lots of band aids applied (with no paperwork required). If anything serious happened – say a spinal – I’d have to call the park ranger and yell at the neighboring campers to pitch in and the ambulance would take at least 25 minutes from Cornwall. I found the work excruciatingly boring. I used to have devious thoughts as I watched little Johnny scream “it’s wet, its cold, waa waa” incessantly - giving his mother grief. Or worse, Mother would leave little Johnny for me to babysit. I used to fantasize a peaceful Johnny at the bottom of the pool with tiny bubbles rising out of his nose and lips…and me ‘trying’ to save him – being the hero. I know, I know a bit weird. But as a 19 year old - probably hung-over – I admit to having the odd disturbing thought.

 Fast forward to 2012 – I have a wee issue with lifeguarding at our masters swim practices.  I certainly like to have a lifeguard there to help with a band aid (I’m sure we could all do without the accompanying 3 page incident report) or worse, a heart attack/stroke most likely brought on by a critical velocity set. It just so happens we have a built in lifeguard.  The pool permit requires that we have a coach qualified at NLS level. In fact all our coaches are NLS level.

 If someone were to get into trouble – the response would be immediate from both the swimmers and coaches. If someone were to stop and have bit of a drown, the swimmers behind would all crash into him or her and demand what the hell was going on. The coaches - all keen to have everyone swimming at Phelps speed – would immediately notice the pile up of swimmers and leap into action…..

 Changing track a bit…

Welcome back everyone to another season of swimming and frolicking fun.  New members, old members, old members returning – lots of members but remember we are all young members, and thank god many have no members…


NT Olympians

 The Olympic swimming (in the pool) is all over – today that mad women’s 10K nonsense swim was in the Serpentine Lake - of all places! Through all that duck poop, weed, slimy slugs and my brother’s vomit caused by overindulging vast quantities of Madeira wine and Madeira cake celebrating his 21st birthday party on a barge along with his buddies - 39 years ago.  Congrats to our most brave Canadian Zsofia Balazs (whom is part of the U of T High Performance Centre, where Doug is an assistant coach), for braving the natures nastiest in a man-made lake - she finished 18th for her first games.  Woot.

 Anyway for all the swimming that was done in a nice clean pool; Canada has doubled its medal count from Beijing. Australia has reduced its medal count – probably because “the other countries sent swimmers” and the Oz  media was obsessed with Body Image.  Germany was completely shut out – not quite 1976!

Watching all this high caliber swimming got me thinking about our masters club and what specifically the difference is between Canada’s greatest sprinter - Brent Hayden and say…um David W from lane 6 or Jason in lane 1 and any of our friends at Havergal - even including the open water swimmers and wetsuit fetished Triathletes? 

 I would argue absolutely nothing.

We can all agree that Brent and NT all like to swim really fast and well at practice.  NT and Brent all do the same drills and practice - the exact same turns, starts, stroke improvement techniques.  Doug’s always banging on about how he trains us like the pros. 

Brent does 47.8 seconds for 100m LC .  Phah! Most if not all NT swimmers can finish that 100 LC off easily within a minute of that time - piece of cake.  Time is relative.

Brent may practice a titch more than the average NTer – as he does not have to really “work” for a living.  I know many NT swimmers who work very hard for a living; lawyering, Sick Kidding, Branding, Headhunting, Actuarialling, lots of Teachering, Hedging, Fighting Firing, Lightening Bolting and even Mo-ing or is that Mooing? (ooh dear - I’m gonna pay for that one).  So if you count posing for a Speedo poster once in a while or shilling for a sports drink, wouldn’t you say that NT has it pretty even with Brent for the work/swim balance. 

Brent’s nutrition needs a little work – unless Victoria has a Yitz’s nearby - his Saturday morning after workout vittles would definitely be inferior to NTs.  I also did not see him carrying a Costco bag of Wine Gums onto the deck for any of his swims – I really think that a handful of Wine Gums would have made the difference from Bronze to Gold.

Brent has impressive tattoos all over.  On his arm he’s put lane ropes in the ocean - very sensible indeed.  We have NT swimmers with tattoos - just as impressive and equally meaningful.

Ahhh but Brent has finally got a bronze medal. But I’m sure you’d find some sort of bronze medal in a sock drawer of anyone in NT. Obviously he has an “Olympic” Bronze medal.  Ha - but I know of an NT swimmer with a Gold medal and a world record (Wes) and he gets them year in and year out. It may not be Olympic but that’s just quibbling isn’t it?

Having said all that, Brent - I’m sure - would make a pretty good masters swimmer.  I’m sure Doug would love to have him join us, he could perhaps start out in lane 4 or 5 just so he would feel comfortable and after a few years graduate to lane 2 or 1?! By then he might even make our 100-119 relay team.  What do you think?


It’s all in the technique

So here I am humming along quite nicely in 2012: snorkeling, swimming, kicking, pulling, drilling, sculling, sprinting, diving, turning, heart rating, anaerobicking, aerobicking, hypoxicking, vertical kicking, ascending, descending, stroking (yes lots of stroking – in fact -  all kinds of stroking - I LIKE stroking), freestyling, and doing a great deal of it all.  In fact in March alone I was pushing water for over 100 kilometers.  Swimming shape wise – it’s the best I’ve felt in donkey’s years.  All this followed by a nice taper – even had my own lane at one practice.  I really felt ready for The Big Meet – Nationals last month.   Before the big races I wore A Big Sharks tooth around my neck to give me “Sharks Speed” - Of course I would take it off before racing so it wouldn’t accidently bite my head off. And how did I do?    

 CRAP – and for 2 races swims in a row*. UGH.

I bet you all can relate to this in whatever you like to do.  It happens all the time.  If you’re gunning for the Olympics or just like me, a middle aged minor swim nutbar who finds swimming a good way to get some decent exercise with other like minded nutbars.

OK let’s face it - swimming is for people who are little weird.  It is not something that humans are built for really at all – firstly humans generally breathe air not water – and we certainly are not built like dolphins or other sleek aquatic mammals.  Humans have been attempting to swim for thousands of years but we only sorted the Butterfly by 1952 and the back stroke flip turn in the late 80’s.   So let’s take a look at some other competitive sports that humans like to do to have fun and stay fit. 

Running and cycling are both individual sports and are purported to be very technical.  In the case of running this is a very natural human activity.  We’ve done it very well for a few million years:  Running away from Sabre tooth tigers.  Running to take down a nice dinner of Woolly Mammoth and of course running away from angry wives – who are sick of cooking Woolly Mammoth stew once again.   Running technique wise:  basically you can heel/mid/ball strike with your feet, take long/short strides, have your head and shoulders arm motion just so and Lance Armstrong wants us all running with limp wrists. And of course everyone loves to fartlek.  But really - come on - at the end of the day it’s one foot in front of the other – repeat. 

Cycling now that’s really techie.  A relatively new sport to us humans - it’s only been around for 200 years or so - invented by a German Baron to get him around his Royal garden efficiently - perhaps to chase Fraulein Fauna?  Apparently technique wise Cadence is very important to cyclists – they go on and on ad nauseam about revs and gearing.  It’s so important now that it’s on all the cycling computers – heck what else are you going to look at other than the ground whizzing by or your buddy’s back wheel in front of you for hours and hours on end.

There’s a bloke here at work who is hardcore - he has twice done Boston Montreal Boston in under 88 hours, PBP (Paris Brest Paris) and for kicks cycled around Lake Ontario pretty well nonstop.  He comes in after these epic rides and shows me his print out from his computer, “see that 10 minute gap there? I was sleeping in a ditch near Hamilton” – very impressive.  I digress. 

But really - cycling is all about how much do you push down / pull up on your peddles, placing your hands on the brake levers or get in the tuck for that sleek crink your back stance and pull those knees in - freewheeling down hills. So in conclusion cycling is basically making your feet go around and around and that’s about it.

So it turns out running and cycling are not so technical after all.  But the one thing runners and cyclists have in common is their love of their little computers.  Runners and cyclists now have GPS with elevation, Heart Rate, Speed, Cadence - all the crap you definitely need to monitor otherwise you’d go bonkers with boredom.

At the end of the day - regardless of how dreadful or well you do in swim meets, running/ cycling races or triathlons.  It’s all about the training and you’re supposed to have fun.  In swimming it’s all about technique and endurance and we have all kinds of ways to improve – see my list at the beginning.  I dunno but I think it’s silly for swimmers to use a computer - however I do see some Tri geeks attempt it.  But in swimming the only computer that really matters is the one that goes on the Red / Blue top.

* NT Coaches take no responsibility on Chris's social behavior before the meet....


Well Well..

The article below I wrote in February created quite the stir. I was completely overwhelmed with the response, at least 2 (or it could have been as many as 3) people came up to me to chat to me about their similar lane swim experiences. Ben was so curious that he actually joined me at a lane swim one noon hour. At this particular lane swim, a colossal gentleman, who must have weighed at least 700lbs - in fact so heavy that he could barely walk – had to tootle around on a scooter.  Well ‘tootle’ maybe a bit of an exaggeration he more likely maneuvered - anyway he ‘maneuvered’ his reinforced scooter close to the pool and ventured in.  Needless to say the water level rose significantly as his body displaced the corresponding water – he was literally an aquatic  Mr. Creosote (warning - viewer discretion is advised). He floated over to the ‘Fast’ Swimming lane (Natch) and started to ‘swim’.  Now you would think that he would swim awkwardly or very slowly taking up most of the lane withBen and I crashing head first into octo/nonagenarians ‘swimming’ the other way.  Not a bit of it - he glided along quite nicely in a doggy paddle type stroke.  He stuck to the lane ropes, and was the epitome of swimming lane etiquette. In fact I couldn’t have been more impressed.  The simple fact that he actually gets out to swim – it must be a ‘huge’ undertaking for him to make it to the pool in the first place. I have seen him on a couple of occasions and he puts quite the effort into his 30 minutes or so of swimming non-stop.  It was quite fascinating and another for the ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ cliché.

 So it has been a busy couple of months since I last wrote a line.  Much has happened.  NT were very well represented (Swimmers and Coaches) at both the Olympic Trials in Montreal and Masters Provincials Championships in Etobicoke – both events occurring on the same weekend.   This was a result of hopeless scheduling on the part of Swimming Canada and Masters Swimming Ontario.  I think the President of Masters Swimming Ontario should be given a wedge with a granite towel for this one.

 Just think about it - all those master’s swimmers who had to choose to either swim at Trials or Provincials.  Almost the entire Olympic Team are eligible Masters Swimmers (older than 18) and they had to forfeit the opportunity to win medals at Provincials – an outrage. 

 Despite the scheduling conflict a good time was had by all who attended both events.  Our Head Buckaroo was Bucking the Toronto High Performance Team along very nicely – Tobias Oriwol a future NT swimmer squeaked in to make the Olympic squad.  Also Colin Russell (who has swim with us) made the team.  HB’s mentor JR (and the fiend behind some of our own most taxing workouts – he of the “you gonna swim fast – you’re gonna train fast” and “critical velocity” ilk)  was also named to the Olympic coaching team.  Yours truly along with our VIP Coach Jen was there to cheer on various wannabe Masters and pre-Masters swimmers.

 Back in Toronto a Coachless NT team put on a dazzling display with many swimmers surpassing expectations – one swimmer remarked “I didn’t expect to make it to the pool let alone swim” – and swim he did – and that’s the masters swim spirit in a nutshell. 

 The 120-159 Mens 4x50 free relay shot to pinnacle podium position in a very quick time of quite a bit less than 2 minutes.  Christian our newly acquired Danish star swam a 50 breast well under 30 seconds - 29.99 – setting a new Ontario record and throwing down the gauntlet down to other sprinty breaststoker types (a very rare special breed – and NT has a few).

 As we look forward we have our chosen NT meet of the year: the DSC 1 day long course meet: Saturday April 21st it is always fun, extremely well organized (loot bags!) The DEADLINE is April 12th - so register soon!  A reminder - there is no NT practice that day


Lane Swimming – Oh dear.

 We are well into February now.  A Bunch of fast swimmers went off to Burlington for a meet this last Sunday.  Head Buckaroo is with a bunch of fast Canadian swimmers in the Show Me State of Missouri - for a Grand Prix time.  All this fast swimming and I’m coming off a week of swimming every day – yes that’s right 6 times so far this week, but the swimming sadly is not so fast.  I am on an evening shift this week and I get to dodge logs at the local pool lane swim. 

 Let me set the stage:

There are three lanes (2 lanes ropes dividing 6 lanes into 3).  Standard drill – everyone swims in a circular pattern. I am in the “Fast Swimming Only” lane (says the sign) and underneath is a helpful qualifier, “if you are being passed too often you should move to another lane.”  The Fast Swimmer Lane is occupied by about 3-5 men/women in their late 70s early 80s – they are extremely slow. The other lane’s sign just says “Swimming Lane” with no qualifier on speed – the swimmers here are almost stopped – actually going about the speed of the rotating restaurant on the CN Tower. The third lane is the “Swim/Fitness” Lane and here we have lots of people straddling noodles chatting.  As you surmise the pool signs are all relative.

 I started swimming at this pool many years ago and I know the drill.  In the morning swim the “Fast” lane is “controlled” by a tall – about 6’5’ - Scots man in his late 80’s (I’m guessing) called Jimmy.  He wears long flippers, a mask snorkel, paddles and socks.  Jimmy is apparently a former Union Shop Steward from Ford – so he likes telling people what he thinks.  Jimmy thinks he is fast and tells people that are slower than him to bugger off (nicely) in his best Sean Connery.  Jimmy swims as though he’s a NASCAR swimmer, he starts his very slow left U-turn about 10m out from each end (in his mind he is following NASCAR’s actual mantra “go fast, turn left and don’t crash”).  We have crashed a few times – but so far luckily no Bannockburn.  Because of his long body he reminds me of something Bruno Gerussi would be very interested in.

 I’ve found that the key to a successful lane swim is to meld in, use etiquette to the extreme; smile, apologize and ask how everyone is doing. Jimmy once gave me some “special soap” to keep my goggles from fogging up – gotta stay in his good books.

 Needless to say it is a challenge to do an NT workout at lane swim. A few weeks ago I had a less than pleasant experience - I was bashing away doing Jen’s Wednesday’s workout: 20x150 on some ungodly pace time.   This time I’m at the Lunch time lane swim – and a different crowd altogether.  Lane is run by an old friendly Guyanese fella who swims 25s on a 10 minute pace – I like this guy.  Anyway some Dude gets in and proceeds to swim in the passing lane – about 5 feet from the lane rope.  Trying to pass him I am playing chicken with 80 year old Ethyl floating towards me from the opposite direction.  So I am getting a little annoyed.  When I do pass him, I start swimming very close to him - you know - hint, hint Dude, move over.  On a couple of occasions we connect.  At one point I chat to him nicely about what a good idea it would be for him to swim closer to the lane rope and he nods and says “yes yes”.  Does he do it? Like bollocks.  I am pissed now.  So I swim extra extra close to Dude.  Dude then grabs my leg and starts screaming at me.  I take a deep breath and calmly tell him to move closer to the lane rope.  Guyana and the lifeguard get involved - I’m afraid Dude is about to clock me.  Friendly Guyana keeps on trying to get Dude to shake hands with me.  I have my hand out - no such luck.  Lifeguard keeps saying to both of us – you’re saying the same thing.  So after much useless heated debate that was going nowhere, I carry on swimming and guess what?  Dude does move over – not very much - but he does move over.  A small victory I suppose.

 Lane swimming is really not designed for us NTers.  I was talking with our Bill a couple of years ago and the pool has banned him from doing fly during lane swim because – get this - it frightens the other patrons (mind you Bill’s fly scares the bejesus out of me but it is a free country and the last I heard fly is a sanctioned stroke). 

 So I guess the moral of the story is this – you get what you pay for.  If you have to go to lane swim, keep humoured, smile a lot and swim by the rules.


Happy Birthday

 So we all aged up on January 1st. You’re 29 right now and going to turn 30 this coming December?…you’re going to be racing 34 year old clapped out geezers all year. Sweet.  Going to be turning 49 this year? …then you’re going up against nubile nimble 45 year olds.  Not so sweet.  Such is life for a competitive Masters swimmer.  Meh…as ‘they’ say it all comes out in the wash at the end.

 Ahh what is the end – you ask? Well I suppose, ultimately it’s Death.  Yup it’s that drastic.  In the past NT was pretty blunt about it - join this team and you will either Swim or Die.  When I first came on board I kinda thought “now this team means business” I envisioned people happily swimming along and then promptly deceasing – because they forgot how to swim or something.  Then after my first few practices with Doug I definitely thought I’d prefer some sort of death.  Later after a few meets the competitive bug hit me and I thought - damn if I see a crap time up on the scoreboard again, that was it -  I wanted to croak.  I must admit at first I thought it was an unusual moniker for a swim team to have.  However other organizations use the same dire consequences - take the state of New Hampshire - Live Free or Die.  Over time I warmed up to our binary logo.

 At the beginning of this season Doug started to hand out gold swim caps with a new moniker “Swim to Live”.  This sent me a bit for a loop.  Hmm – I thought what is this? NT is now getting all soft and esoteric.  So I asked Doug “are we replacing Swim or Die with Swim to Live?”.  ”No” was the answer – “Swim to Live is just being added”.   He then opened the bag of caps for me to take a cap – but wait there are some old Swim or Die Caps in the bag as well.  So I ask - Can I have one of each?  No - Pick only one. This was quite the definitive question as I peered into the bag - Live or Die? It kind of felt like I was in an Eddie Izzard’s take on the Church of England’s Inquisition “Cake or Death”. 

 Also a much bigger issue went through my mind – What kind of car would Doug have to buy buy so that the Swimlive license plate would be added to the fleet of Swimordi and Swimfast.  Swimordi belongs to a street rocket of sorts.  Swimfast, the most paradoxical plate, applies to a flash white minivan.  Personally I would like to see the Swimlive plate on this little number.

 Anyway in the end I went for the Die caps.  The cap with the ultimate ultimatum.  I have been on this team for 7 years and I know what makes me swim faster – the fear of untimely death causing by not swimming.

 The additional Swim to Live moniker will be interesting – who will be wearing the Gold – “Live” or the Bronze – “Die” caps? Perhaps we’ll have a relay team with half the team wearing “Die” caps the other wearing “Live” caps.  Say “Live” loses it for the team…”Die” will accuse “Live” of not living up to the team’s expectations.  “Live” ironically tells Die to F**ck of and Die. 

 Interesting and fun times ahead.  Remember, when you age up into the next ‘category’ or not, you always have a choice – 'Swim to Live' or 'Swim or Die'!


An NT Christmas

 Hey look at the calendar...it’s flippin’ December again. Wasn’t it December a couple months ago? Time is swimming away from us at break neck speed - in fact “time” must be wearing the new Speedo Fastskin3 “Become One” - “Goggles”($100) “Cap”(with hair management system $70)  “Suit”(women’s knee $595) ludicrously inexpensive 3 headed monster.  When your intrepid reporter first looked at the promotional video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92tPRrXThMQ&sns=fb for the FS3 I was waiting for the Lorne Michaels credits.  It looked like a classic SNL skit.  When I looked up the prices of this revolutionary “system” it became utterly Monty Pythonesque.  Anyway what do I know – maybe Speedo’s hyperbole is all true and we will see world records plummet with the new system in which case I’m holding all the small fish  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhJQp-q1Y1s

 So we are now uncontrollably careening towards Christmas – how do we know this? It’s December and we get to work out earlier (Mon and Wed 8:00PM start work out times at NT start this week). Our middles are starting to bulge in anticipation of Egg Nog, mince tarts and whacking those Terry’s chocolate oranges.  So please succumb enjoy the holidays – take a break from worrying about how your beloved “muscles” mitochondria will react to the flaky here today / gone tomorrow (?) “fat” mitochondria showing up for a few weeks.  Remember – Our Doug has booked pool time in January and he has doozy workouts planned.  How do I know you ask? I know it’s pathetic – but I write down every workout I ever swam.    Anyway in January of this year I noted lots of 4-4.5k workouts with many sprinkles of ‘critical velocity’ and ‘fast’ sets.  On a so called “easy” Monday practice Judy had us do 7x400 on some ungodly pacetime.  So lots of opportunities to get back into your naturally hard, ripped swim body.

 Now, to keep your muscles hard and in racing shape this season; then plan to attend the North York Gators Pentathlon December 11th.  It’s only 50 of each stroke and a 100IM – they take the total time and rank you.  Yup it’s only a 300 ALL OUT – but all broken up - very civilized and quite fun.

 I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, Merry New Year and a BIG Happy Birthday to everyone.  For Masters Swimmers it’s a very special time we have our collective birthdays on January 1st.  Double edged sword day for those aging up into a new category:  You get to leave all those fast young up and comers – but on the flip side you get to race your elder and perhaps more experienced faster colleagues again.  “Och ‘tis all good!”


A Swim Meet with No Pool


My what a bunch of swimmers.  Is it just me or does this year’s new crop seems more abundant and energetic than ever? …and fast as well.  Golly Gosh.  Great to see everyone out – hope this can all be sustained. 


Breakfasts are back to near capacity and a great number of people (well at least 2) seem extremely excited about the abundant knishtshs being passed around (the look on Anne’s face as it passes by her - tells it all). 


With all these newbies and oldies chomping at the bit – the social committee has decided that “steam” needs to be let off. 


The plan is for Thursday October 27th for a NT/ Granite faceoff – a dual meet to be held at Harry’s Social Kitchen A unique venue for a swim meet - of this caliber.  Harry’s (formerly Fionn McCools) actually have a dearth of pools. In fact rumour has it they have no pool at all.  How is this possible to host a swim meet without a pool? You ask. Well it’s all quite an intellectual, high minded and a cerebral exercise really.  We use high doses of allegory and metaphor and the swimming is done purely through thought and conversation.  With the help of imbibing refreshments and accoutrements we communicate our (wanton?) aspirations and desires.  Most of the conversation is highly enlightening, some examples:

 “I can do 10x50s on a minute” response “wow! that’s good”

Or perhaps “I like your swim suit - it is red - and I can see through it” response  “fantastic -  that’s exactly what I was hoping – wanna come back to my place?”

And my favourite: “the other day I swam in the lake wearing a wet suit”  to which the other person responds “oh dear (cocking head and looking sad speaking softly) so you’re a triathlete  – poor you -  my condolences" Now you are asking how does one complete in this swim meet? – how does one win?  Very simply – it is all team work – think of it as a relay without all that complicated takeover stuff.  Those left (not necessary standing) with the most swimmers win.  This meet is actually a bit of a rubber match.  Granite and NT have both scored a point (each time posting provocative and highly salacious pictures to Facebook  proving The ‘Win’) . So we need a good turnout of people willing to be very tired at work (hopefully with a jolly good hung-over) on Friday Morning to do us proud. We hope the Havergal Gang can join us after their workout for a little late night rienforcement.


Also non swimmers are especially welcome to attend – all your partners, parents and children who love to be with people who reak of chlorine. Don’t  worry - they usually form a clique among themselves and go wild as talk of main sets, typewriters, ladders begin to affect them.  They are guaranteed a super time – hey swimmers are highly sociable.


Now speaking of swim meets that involve the use of pools the first semi proper meet is Etobicoke’s Semi Serious IV - Sunday November 14th

A fun meet designed to be um… not that serious.


On Swimming Fashion....


 Welcome back! and a big welcome to all new members - I look forward to meeting you all over the next few weeks - It all starts Saturday 24th.  We are looking forward to a super season and a great build up for Provincials - in town this season - Etobicoke (March 2012), Nationals in bucolic Kelowna B.C. (May 2012) and Worlds in Italy (June 2012). 


Since we are starting up next this week (yeah!) why not treat yourself to a new suit - here is my rather warped take on swimming attire:

 Many of you have seen my swim swear (unfortunately for many).  Basically it's a black speedo. I get a new one each year - its made by TYR and its about $30 taxes in with the Omni discount.  I've had 5 of them.  Apparently in 2 years I should be banned from it...according to a lifeguard on Long Island:



I will have none of it - Alex Baumann still wears one, Scotter and Paul R still use one and they are either much faster or  more aged than I.  While I'm at it I'd like to comment on my fellow brethren choice of swimwear:  


 I do not condone wearing bicycle shorts in the pool - although I have a pair for racing (a Fastskin Pro) - I think they are rubbish.  Many guys in the club wear these things but here is the thing - you are swimming - not riding a bike.  I don't care how tight you get them they will always billow and bubble.  This is especially true when one breaks wind, of course I never "fluff" but that is what "wind-makers" tell me then - the damn thing becomes a balloon.  Picture this: you let one rip and then stop at the end and release the balloon gases - ghastly whiffs - inconveniencing swimmers all around you.  No -  bicycle shorts are for Cadel Evans and the like - not swimmers.

 Training or drag suits are a great idea and many of the guys wear them but I personally don't like them - they are a drag and therefore I feel like I'm dragging so workout for me becomes a drag. 

 I have also tried the borat suit - only in racing (2008 Provincials).  I did get a best time for the 50m breast (flying start) but was not impressed with the packaging or rather the lack of packaging the suit affords.  i.e. my bits fell out when I got out of the pool - not a good swim suit design.  This 'spill' was actually captured on camera which I suppose made the race X Rated.  This may have caused the little incident with a certain Officials - I was initially disqualified for not wearing "appropriate swimwear" as per:


Rule 3.1 (a)  Decency: the wearing of the swimsuit shall not offend morality and good taste (in particular but not exclusively because of the cut and exposure of the parts of the body, covered or not). 


 Bit of a wide berth that one - morality and good taste.  A borat suit is completely moral and in fine taste if I do say so myself.  It covers the tackle - mostly - that makes it highly moral and it's green which I think is very tasteful. The bits falling out - not so tasteful - so I get that, so hence my quibble with the packaging and the disqualification.  Needless to say I have retired the borat suit.  It is in a box with all my 5th - 8th place ribbons and the odd bronze medal (for being one of the only idiots to sign up for the 400 IM in my age group).


 Women's suits are a disaster for style combinations - I can't get my head around all the different styles: cross shirred switch back lingerie style clip circuit drop back - the combinations and permutations are bewildering.  What's wrong with the plain Speedo Endurance +?  It does the business as per rule 3.1 and looks fantastic on pretty well all women.  However one word sums up the new racing suits for women: HIDEOUS.  They look like the suits worn in the 1920's made of wool - something your great grandmother would approve of. 

 To me either show a bit of leg or cover it all up. Not this "Farmer John" cut-off nonsense.  The original (now illegal) full length lazr was a gorgeous suit as is the basic training suit.  Yeah but that's just me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and taste is personal.  So there we are.

 Anyway don't take any of that guff I wrote above seriously: if you like bicycle shorts, drag suits and 1920's suits go for it...Omni Swim / TAS  https://www.team-aquatic.com/store/index.php?l=page_view&p=store_locations  offers North Toronto a great discount.  They also have fancy "see through" goggles so you can see all those lovely swimsuits all around you!

Your Roving Reporter



Woah where did the spring go? 

It seems that so much has happened since my last report:  swim meets, parties, people leaving people coming, searching for cases of whiskey in far away lands. Lots and lots of life going on.

 Since Christmas NT has had much going on.  Our Head Coach was prepping for and competed in the Hide a Case Challenge, we are so very proud that his team came in a very close 2nd.  We’ve had the perennial Provincials and Nations and we had respectable showings at both.  We’ve also had a year end party with 2 firsts: 1) It was held in May and 2) No pictures were taken and posted anywhere – which leaves us all to our imaginations on what went on.  Let the RR tell you it was the usual wind and crazy night.  No shenanigans happened at all. Never. Ever. Suffice it to say: What goes on at NT parties, goes on at NT parties – or something like that.

 So here we are in the throes of Summerville swimming.  Everyone’s forgotten what it’s like to swim long course.  The usual noises: “Oooh this sucks”, “too long waaah”, “…where’s the end?”  We are into the swing of things now with the usual crowd and some new people who have to fill out the “if you die it’s not my fault” forms.  Over all pretty good crowds so far for iffy weather so far (networks keep calling for thunder stroms).

 Ahh yes Summerville Pool - I Googled this concrete blot.  Apart from a few swim clubs and Masters clubs - it is used just 10 weeks a year for recreational swimming. The general theme was it was underutilized.  We are told also - it was built for competition and the reason why no swim meets are held there is that it is unsactionable because - as ‘google’ says - it is too short.

 But we all know it is longer than 50m for three reasons: 1) we have to extend the lane ropes every time we put them in with all sorts of string, adapters ‘S’ hooks and turn buckles.  2) 300s on 4:30 definitely is more like 305 on 4:30! 3) Coach Doug says so.

 The structure was built in the 60’s and is the ultimate above ground pool.  It uses so much concrete there is an article on it in the Concrete Toronto magazine. A great quote from the article: …this muscular concrete monument isn’t in Cuba; it is the architectural landmark on our Beach other than the Harris filtration plant.   Naturally a pool is compared to a water treatment plant – poetic almost.  It also explains something about Pierre Trudeau and his new ‘metric’ system and how everybody was measuring in yards and had difficulty translating yards to meters (they probably screwed up reading the slide rule).

 It maybe unsanctionable for swimming events however I did find that the Trident Splash National Cannonball Championships (cannonballs and can-openers while chewing gum) are held here maybe yearly.  So there definitely is competition held there -  and I can certainly vouch to unofficial competition occurring at almost every practice.  Watch out when Coach Doug has that big maniacal smile and 2 stop watches swinging from his neck.  You are in for some timed ‘fun’ competition. 

 Swimming outdoors is great.  A super workout followed by Breaky (with bacon) after workouts on Saturdays on a lovely sunny patio or the odd beer after evening workouts at the Lion on the Beech.  What a great way to spend the summer!



Happy January!

So, the first couple of weeks the pools are nicely full of fattened  master’s swimmers after the Debaucheries’ December.  So everyone’s churning through the meters with visions and hopes of losing lbs and kgs of excess Tonnage brought on by Turkey, Treacle Tarts and Toblerone. But wait we are missing people.  Where are they?  Head Buckaroo is in Florida followed by Venezuela.  MJ is in Puerto Rico.  What are they doing there?  Aaah - they are swimming over the holidays – through the time usually taken for wanton gluttony. 

Swim Camps - 46K a week plus running.  Normally masters types squeeze in 46K a month – on a good month.  So this is it, most of us were quite sensibly gorging and drinking ourselves silly ourselves on Holiday goodies for weeks only to come back to lithe, nimble swimmers who don’t even crack a heart rate of 120 bpm when up against 10x200 on 2:50.  No fair.  Well yes it is fair.  You put in what you get out bla bla.   Just a wee caveat here though: Coach Doug was actually doing the CC thing everywhere as well – so it was a sort of hybrid thing…gorging of The Drinking and The Swimming.  Hmmm. Smart.

Anyway no worries we will be all Even Steven in a few months.  Provincials are coming up in March (18-20) in Nepean so we will all need to be in top form by then - following that we have Nationals in Montreal (The May 2-4 weekend). Woot.

Don’t know if you’ve noticed but we now have a small contingent of US transplants with us who desperately miss that funny yardage business.   You can hear them moaning and groaning in lane 1 about not being able to break a minute or 50 seconds in this or that event because our meter is soooo much longer.  Well they (and we for that matter) are lucky - The Alderwood Masters are hosting a yards meet on the 23rd January.  They have managed to get quite a contingent of NT swimmers to join them in their quest for getting nifty times for such novel events as the 500 yards free.  Anyone else is quite welcome to race – they do deck entries. For meet info: Alderwood Teddy Bears.

Actually yards are great; the times mean nothing to us up here in Pierre Trudeau metrification land.


Semi Seriously now for 5 whole years…

 …and I have 0.55 seconds to show for it.  Woot.

 Last Sunday, Eee Ohhh Mac - quite the Master’s Team name don’t you think - hosted the Semi Serious “VI” Swim Meet.  This got me thinking…

 What do I have to show for being at this Masters swimming lark for 5 years?  Semi Serious “I” was my first swim meet.  My first race (after ~20 years) was 50 free and I went a lugubrious 28.03.  This past March in London I went a stonking 27.48.  5 years and 2,400,395m later.  To go half a second faster in a 50 free. Big whoop.

 Well it’s not all about the “serious” racing is it?  What an amazing time it’s been on the other side of “semi”.  It has been and continues to be a super fun ride.  So much has happened in 5 years of NT. 

 Foremost the full on parties and get together’s: The first I remember was Karaoke, our Janet warbling away as we climbed the walls trying to escape.  Actually there are numerous Janet stories & parties – it seems we kept having good bye parties for her.  This time I think it has stuck – she’s been gone for nearly 2 years (wow).  Speaking of people leaving – we’ve lost many die hard NTers to far off countries: China, Australia, Singapore, Granite, Etobicoke. But always they stay in touch (except those “Etobicoke” people of course…natch) we have a truly worldwide NT family. 

 Coach Doug keeps raving about how brilliant our coaches are and I must say I agree, you know I’ve been a worldwide Swimmer Master Moocher – whenever I travel I ‘drop in’ at random Master workouts and it must be said I have yet to swim with another club with a coaching staff that matches NT.  I even traveled to Ann Arbor Mi hoping for a hum dinger workout in old Phelps land.  Not a bit of it.  Coach never showed up.  Workouts at NT (complete with the odd speech – which our Gord Sooo enjoys) are really second to none.

 WARNING: mushy bit here also a bit cliché - actually it’s totally cliché: It is all about the people.  Coming to workout regularly in good moods, in bad, tired, not tired, cranky, with garlic breath, a sore dingus …whatever.    Having a laugh between sets with NTers is what it’s all about - it really is worth it.  Baconless Breakfast at Yitzes mmm mmm is also a major highlight. Come to think about it … we are seriously having fun here.

 OK enough of that drivel…we have a party coming up.  December 10th at Fionn McCools - St.Clair and Yonge.  Cathy is flying all the way from her home in Singapore to be there.  I’m coming from Scarborough. I doubt Stelmach from Etobicoke will come.  But I’m sure all those lush puppy Granitites will be there.  Enough said - you have no excuse.  Be there.



September Swimming – hey wait it’s October already

I started an article over the last long weekend (Labour Day) and heave ho…it never got published because I never finished it.

Anyway a big welcome back to all our regulars and welcome aboard all you newbies…we even have John D – who left in 2001 and now is back – 10 years in the wilderness…

 Well we are right into our swim season already - getting all wet for Coach Doug and his team.  This left a good 3+ weeks prior to start of the season to find other watery containers to swim in:  bunk in with other masters/varsity teams / private clubs (Granite – for those with connections) / lakes / rec swims / hot tubs / bathtubs / very large sinks…or whatever to get your swim fix.  However there were other options and many did partake…

 One night in August my son threw down a Gauntlet onto the family dinner table.  The Gauntlet was that he challenged me to run the Toronto Good Life half marathon in October (it’s bloody next week already!).   I was overwhelmed with a sense of jocular bravado and daring do (helped along with 2 cans of Becks and a glass of wine).  I immediately proclaimed “No problem son and I’ll do it with one leg tied behind my back and I’ll give you a 20k start – I’ll still womp you arf arf”. 

Half Marathon.  A piffling triffle of a race.  Halfs are for wooses.Tsk tsk. Not a problem.  I had 3+ weeks of “no swimming” to get into running shape.   So late one Saturday morning in August; my daughter, son and I went for a fartlecking 10k run.  It caught on a bit and I’ve been running half fast or Half Assed ever since.  Oliver is still running the “woose” marathon next weekend but I will not because…oh dammit - I’m so cut up about this - honestly – a whole bunch of us are going to a Muskoka resort for a 25th wedding anniversary celebration.

 There were other swimmers who also went on a running bender for the NT September gap ..Amy and MJ ran the Scotia Water Front complete and utter woose marathon (as it is sooo flat) and they said they both enjoyed it.  Hmmm.  MJ did the thing in an incredible time of 1 hour 36 minutes.  Shhh really she is a runner – please don’t encourage her.

 Anyway back to all things swimmingly - upcoming meets:  The first one is the Sprint Meet in Brantford on the Oct 16th (instead of that darn marathon…) and closer to home is the 5th annual semi serious in Etobicoke on the 14th of November, Steve Goodwin the fellow who organizes it told me it’ll will be a super time - as it always is.

 Also have a look into the January 2011 Swim Camp in Venezuala…I have always wanted to do this…I will definitely do it one of these years.


Swimmer Vacations 2010
So summer is now fast turning into 'back to school' season. When I left Toronto at the end of July for a 3 week vacation in the Gaspesien region of Quebec, It was great to see that attendance at Summerville was healthy and the weather was beautiful for outdoor swimming. I still have not managed a post swim NT outdoor patio brunch yet...an absolute favourite of mine.

At my last practice I bumped into Chris C from the Barracudas...he has a nifty habit of taking vacations around World Masters Championship. This year took him and his family to Sweden and then they are off to travel around the Fjords of Norway.

Janey (formerly NT swimmer Janet) took holiday's around the US Masters Nationals in Puerto Rico. Judging by her pictures on Facebook, she certainly has settled into her new team in Florida very well. AND Lots of extra pool activity as is our Janey...

Other swimmers do not necessarily swim on holidays which is a good thing - according to Wes who prescribes a break of 3 weeks to rest, if you are doing the mileage that Wes does...

Take Doug's last months visit to Laguna California (his now self professed 2nd home) - he was surrounded by outdoor 50m pools ...he swam a bit for sure but Michael B. took him for big long bike rides up big long hills. Our Doug has definitely been bitten by the bike bug again...

Other swimmers such as Kathy took a vacation while moving all the way around the world ...Tuscony via UK and then onto Singapore to start a new life. I'm not sure if any swimming was in the cards at all for her. Her vacation was probably like mime and many other swimmers...spending copious amount of time doing next to nothing in probably this order; sleeping, eating, drinking, reading, sleeping, going for walks and the odd run/bike ride and dips in a lake or in my case the freezing cold St.Lawrence Estuary.

It's funny, I came across, in this little anglophone community deep deep inside Quebec – of all things - a fellow NT swimmer. Andrew A - Who competes for us on occasion is the summer Rector for a couple of weeks at the local Anglican Church (he calls it a busman's holiday). NT is like City TV - it's Everywhere!

After this long (for me) vacation, I'm really looking forward to getting back into the swim of things...the last few practices at Summerville catching up with the gang and then to start back up in September for another exciting swim season.

It looks like Coach Doug is Head Coach for the annual Masters Training Camp in Margarita Island, Venezuela from January 11th to 18th, 2011 - Swim - Beach - Swim - Party - Sleep..... Provincials are back in Nepean in March 2011 and Nationals are in Montreal for the May Two Four Weekend...oh yeah that's a must! It's going to be fun.


London 2010 - 2 years ahead of its time.  

 NT was at its usual this past weekend at the Provincial Championships: let’s do the list:  The build up - twitchy nervous tapered swimmers - check, copious relay changes before meet – check, dramatic and not so dramatic last minute pull outs – check, copious relay changes during meet – check, lots of PBs, PWs and ‘Meh’ – check, spectacular false and dawdling starts – check, fabulous dinner party – check, the dancing fun bit then the usual futile hunt for other cool people afterwards – check, vomit – check, brushing teeth in vomit laden sink* – check, NT ends up 4th in points – check.

The sink thing* - that is actually quite unusual and unnecessary; the toilet was 4’ away.  TMI.

 It was a most successful meet for NT – the venue proved to be quite the Goldilocks experience.  Fast for those that found it fast, otherwise it was either slow or just a pool with water in it.  Someone actually found the water not quite right at all and jumped out after 50m of a 200 breast – he who shall not be named - ahem. 

 The stands were spectacularly precipitous - swimmers had to dodge the odd Snowmobile. But it afforded a great view of all the action if you didn’t suffer from vertigo. There was continuous warm up / down pool which was very useful for the partiers / hangover types…

 As far as the swimming went – NT was FAST with 40 registered swimmers.  We came in a very respectable 4th - whomping the powerhouse Etobicoke and the ‘oh so’ wannabe NTers - The Granite Club.  There were some spectacular swims especially from our newest members; Susan, Ryan, Lori, Jordan and Ben who rose to the occasion wearing our nice bronze caps.  We even had a ringer - Kevin who actually comes from Kent UK via Perth Australia via The Swim Fit Group at NT (you can catch Kevin and his Wife Gillian as they leave Swim Fit on Mon and Wed nights and Kevin as he leaves Havergal Tuesday and Thursday nights).

 Also in the meet was the classic befuddled swimmer NT standing start.  MJ performed this gracefully – this time actually standing on the block.  She was busy peering at the water – totally enraptured at the thought of 4 lengths of breast stroke she had to complete. The “take your marks” bit not really registering, but instead she just heard the beep.  Woo hoo and off she went uncertainly piling in …she almost pipped 1st place by a few hundreds.  Our Pete B. did the exact opposite.  Coming to the meet to only swim relays, he was wound up tighter than a spring in heat (whatever that is) and “Take your marks” was all he needed to do a dramatic backstroke start thereby disqualifying the whole relay team he was leading out. Coach Doug found himself in a unusual position - try to appeal the D.Q. or go with his initial reaction: pointing at shell shocked Pete and saying "You're out!" Facts be known: Doug was on the other relay team and had no sympathy towards Pete's team due to the severe trash talking and shoulder punching from one of his teammates, who has no first name.... I do believe that this false start was a first in masters relay history. Silence fell on the whole pool, you could hear everyone thinking "Did what just happen, happen?" Pity the poor soul from Burlington, who thought he be really macho and do the stare down on Coach Jen as they were getting ready for the fly in the relay...... Word of advise dude, don't mess with former Olympians......  

 Despite Pete B.’s unfortunate premature ejection from his relay and another relay being short a swimmer because she suffered a ‘riding’ accident in Mexico (Sanchez claims she wasn’t used to riding ‘horses’ – but of course we know better) Um … well let’s put it this way - we may have had 2 relays using 7 swimmers in the same heat.  Don’t ask. The relays rocked and gained us muchos points.  A HUGE thanks to Doug for once again yanking on his hair organizing a herd of cats:  which is masters’ relays.  Oops that reminds me I must pay up…$4 per relay.  I hope you’ve all paid up…(?)

Coach Suzy has come up with a very interesting way of swimming the 200 Free.....

 The night life was its usual fun and frivolity with hiccups (and the rest).  Our beautiful Sabrina synchronized a simply lovely Dinner at an Italian restaurant with a very patient friendly waiter who had to accommodate a very rambunctious 28 of us in a room for 25. 

 The dinner was followed by the usual unsuccessful hunt for natty people and places – after losing a few to ice cream (Jeff & Suzy) and a washroom switch back (Amy and friend)– the crew ended up at a lively bar called JBR inhabited by earnestly partying Western students.  Erin was able to show them - and us - the finer points of dancing on elevated wooden stages.  This was followed by the usual fun confusion and eventually barf back and hotel.  Hence what stays in London goes on in London.

Along with the NT swimmers came a phalanx of friends and significant others - so all in all a super time was had by all. Photo's can be found on the NTMSC Facebook site!

To ameliorate our pathetic attempts at finding natty people (our Granite Club friends) last Saturday night.  NT has organized a Social Commitment on Thurs 22nd April:

So come on out to:
Fionn McCools at Yonge and St. Clair (21 St. Clair Ave. West). *
On Thursday April 22nd

After 7:00PM
Follow the smell of Chlorine or Salt**
and bring your swim friendly friends...

*This is a shared commitment as The Granite Club Masters are also joining us  (it's good for them as it gets them out - you know what I mean - all couped up in that club house of theirs all the time).
** if you swim at the Granite

Road Trip to London!

I've booked rooms in London.  If we all were cozy - we could have 52 swimmers stay at the Hotel - gulp...
We have a few eager beavers already signed up (you can take that anyway you want. hmmm).  As I said before "what transpires in London can be inconsequential in Toronto". 
It should be a very good time. 


BTW, The Friday night session is a Tri Athletes Dream!  A 1500 (Olympic) followed by an 800 (sprintish - 50m swim to the start?) then a quick 50 breast (yes - you CAN swim breast) then to cap it all off - a 400 IM (basically free with all that other good stuff at the start).
Everyone is on there own to get there.  Ask around - there are plenty people driving.
I've tried to simplify things - so I made up a blog to share all the info (so far). Please e-mail Coach Doug or myself for the link.   I'll make updates as necessary - last year there were too many spreadsheets flying all over the place.


Serious Swimming Blogs (?) and Millions of Meters

 I am a big fan of Ivor Skrewkyk and Tom Bullturn.  Ivor and Tom are upstanding members of the Barnet Copthall Masters Swim Club who sometimes can be found sitting down in North London UK.  A few years ago NT had the pleasure of Ivor (or was it Tom?) visiting us for a Saturday morning practice and the constitutional breakfast at Yitz’s afterwards, we shared our secret power food “knish”.   He was duly impressed and hasn’t returned since.

 However our own Erin - a couple of years ago - looked Ivor up while visiting Jolly Old - and while navigating through the bizarre names of the London Underground - finally ended up doing a reciprocal swim at the Barnet Copthall Swim club in North London.  So you could say we are sister Master swim clubs (http://www.eyepi.co.uk/oldmasters/specials/sisters.htm ). Ivor and Tom ran a very humourous / satirical masters swimming Blog linked to the Barnet Copthall Swim Club but as of late they had a wee tiff with the “knowing powers” at the Britain Swimming administration and they have had to disassociate themselves from the Swim Club.  The details of which are quite funny in themselves, but as Ivor writes on http://www.colinbrownknows.com - the fellow in question just “knows” the website is wrong. Ivor and Tom unperturbed have now started up a “free” independent site called the Wobbly Block – Actually I think of the website every time I get up on the lane 6 block at North Toronto to do our walk backs and lane 1 block (deep end) at Etobicoke (Note: Due to my pathetic age/speed I never get to swim in lane 4 or 5).  I encourage you to bookmark the site for the 1st thing you read each morning http://www.wobblyblock.com/ above your Toronto Sun bookmark.

 Another slightly more serious swim site is www.Swimnews.com.  Craig Lord who writes for swimnews is another with dry wit - he also has the most colourful descriptions of the soon to be banned plastic shiny, slippery, slimy, slick, silly swimsuits.  There are plenty of other blogs/websites as well; the US based http://www.swimnetwork.com/ has lots of glitz and glamour and also some interesting stuff.

 Hey, going back to morning routines.  Don’t you feel all refreshed and gung ho in the morning after a thumping good workout in the pool?  I’m sure you do - so you will certainly want to make note of the meters you swam won’t you?  Just click on Master Swimming Canada’s Million Meter Challenge:  http://mymsc.ca/Million.jsp   


There are many reasons and here are some brilliant ones right here:

·         Impress friends and family with your ability to swim vast distances

·         Get FREE nifty swim caps and pins at all the milestones (250K, 500K, 1M)

·         We certainly can’t have the likes of The Cornwall Sea Lion Masters logging more klicks than us

·         It TOTALLY satisfies that swim nerd lurking inside you

·         Because it’s fun to swim around PEI (!)


Swimming in the tropics

 I spent last week on the very sunny island of Cuba at an all inclusive.  The sun was hot and all the people have a sunny disposition.  All my siblings plus various wives and kids (13 of us) were down to celebrate my Mum’s 80th.  This is something I highly recommend for a family get together ... no quibbling about who has to cook, do the dishes and who pays for what.  Many little irritants that can trigger conflict between family members are completely removed.  Everything is laid out – it’s all right there.  The really big decisions are reduced to what to drink next and the most difficult decision is to figure out what day we should visit Havana.   Another tip: the more people the merrier - diluting strong personalities and having distractions (the kids) and plenty of rum are key to a successful family get together.  My Mum had a brilliant time – she can’t stop talking about it. 

 OK so what does my family vacation got to do with an article about swimming?  Well it turns out the resort I picked  happened to have a “sports” pool - well someone has to pick!  The pool looked like 25m in the brochure (turns out it was 20m - but at least it was square).  My daughters swim coach had supplied us with honking great workouts for the week (6-7000m).  So we were set.  So I thought.  My 15 year old daughter had significant influence from her 15 and 21 year old female cousins - who do not swim - but enjoy the nightlife, booze and all things boys.  Getting my daughter out of bed for a workout in the morning was a traumatic experience - funny she hops out of bed in Toronto at 4:50 AM to make it to practice - but in Cuba at 8:00 AM it was close to an air raid siren wail.  Anyway after the first few mornings we got into a routine and things sort of settled down – a bit. 

 I must say swimming at resorts is a most pleasant experience…it’s kinda like Summerville without all the “do’s and don’ts” signs (there must be at least 12 “No Diving” signs all around Summerville Pool) and lifeguards telling you to take a shower, swim a width before you are banded and allowed in the deep end etc.  It really is most refreshing.  In fact the only signs in the whole resort were really important signs like what activity was on for that particular day, washrooms and exits.  Most civilized.   

 Anyway back to swimming in the tropics; our Coach Doug is Head Buckaroo of the 3rd Annual Masters Swim Camp at Laguna Mar Resort on Margarita Island, Venezuala for the first week of January 2010.  All you need is a pair of dark / smoky goggles (I mentioned the sun is hot and also very bright), 7 days vacation and about $1300 and you’re set!

 You’re not mucking about in a resort pool that is a half kidney ovalish shaped octagon with palm tree stuck in the middle – this resort has a full on Olympic 50m pool.  Oh yah.  Serious swimming. And because there will be a bunch of swimmers from across Canada and an open bar: there will be Serious - and I mean Serious - Partying.  So far there are 26 signed up and like I said earlier; swimmers are like family, the more the merrier with these things – dilution and distractions (well not so much kids – but how about some bikinis for both guys and girls …. giddy up).  The deadline is this Monday, October 26, for the guaranteed rate – so sign up soon!


Goodbye Garbage Summer – Hello 3 pools!

So this is it.  I am finally putting fingertips to keyboard since last May and this time it’s going to work.  I’ve tried over the summer ...oh my goodness I’ve tried, but the piece always ended up in a screaming polemic rant and my blood pressure at 200 over whatever – and I ended up wiping it all out and then start performing deep breathing exercises.  I certainly don’t want to dwell on the garbage strike of 09 – but for the love – at the end of the day it never needed to happen.  So frustrating.  Anyway for me it was a summer of Havergal (nice) and groveling to swim Saturdays at any pool anywhere.  I even e-mailed the Head of Parks and Rec asking to see if we could use Summerville.  I used - I thought - was a pretty good logical argument:  “it’s my pool – I paid for it and I want to use it” to which I got a rather ‘we are government and we know what’s good for you response’ - “we can’t let you use it because we don’t want you subjected to picket lines”.  If that wasn’t waving a red flag in my face…anyway I must stop thinking about it – I get too wound up. 

 OK I swam everywhere it seemed: Bowmanville, Cornwall – I also swam in some dingy old pool called “The Granite Club” (btw thanks Gord / Katie)!  Still I managed to slip about 6 positions on the old Million Meter Challenge: http://mymsc.ca/Million.jsp  because of the strike…grr

 Take the Garbage out of summer and I thought this summer was super – I am one of those cool people – can’t take the heat.  When I couldn’t swim I could do the next best thing - run - and the temperatures where perfect for it…there is nothing like running in the cool or rain - quite invigorating.  All you triathletes full on into racing season must be loving the temperate climate.

 So back to Summerville – we have one more workout on Wednesday - I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone.  Looking forward to the season ahead, NT continues to expand - coach Doug tells me NT is into another pool in the east end - Riverdale Collegiate (located at Jones and Gerrard: http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&source=hp&q=riverdale+collegiate+institute&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A Tues and Thurs). 

 Perhaps we could call the new location ET; The Extraterritorial or perhaps Entertainment Tonight with Coach Zuzana “Mary Hart” Samkova.  Anyway it’s a great addition…start times for all locations and groupings will be posted soon. Stay tuned.

 On the competition side of things, our coach Doug did us all proud by winning a slew of medals at the largest international games apart from the Summer Olympics – no it’s not the UN – it’s the World Police and Firefighters Games (http://www.2009wpfg.ca/index.php) – this year held in Vancouver.  This is quite the games: everything from Angling, Darts, Horseshoes, Gaelic Football to Decathlon and Lawn Bowls and something called TCA, Toughest Competitor Alive (Yikes - what if you lose!).  Actually it’s stuff real people do!  Our Doug picked up 8 medals…all for, um… swimming.

 In October, we have 2 swimmers going to the Worlds Masters Games in Sydney Australia – Kathy and Wes.  Kathy has been madly swimming up a storm all summer getting into shape.  They are both going to crash at Christina’s place in Sydney (an NT alumni living in OZ) Good luck guys!

 Just so you know, Omni Swim has their annual big one day sale - 25% off everything!: Sept 12th.  So pop on out and purchase that racing suit you’ve always wanted.  Be a daredevil and purchase that Jaked or Blueseventy you’ve been eyeing – they are all legal in Masters swimming – for now. Actually when they are banned in that “non masters category” on January 1st 2010, the manufacturers may stop making them – who knows? So better get ‘em soon. 


2009 Nationals Smashnals

I’ve never swam in a Nationals meet before…certainly never made it while I was in age group and CI’s were out of my league.  Masters is great; just join a Masters Swim Group – MSO ~$35/year go online and sign up for the meet.  Bingo, lickety split, just like that one can compete at the National Championships level – impressive eh! My daughter who swims age group,  is green with envy that master swimmers never have standards to meet and to add more shade of green we even get to pick our own events. 

 So NT is at Nationals - 49 of us strong - erm well not quite that strong …some bowed out because of the sniffles (Michael, Lesley), another bumped her hand on some door (Kathy), and a few moved to far away exotic places like Australia, China and The Granite Club.  Impressively others soldiered on, one of our newest members - Victoria – a real trooper - had a temperature of 400.  Derek with a ‘rolled’ ankle the size and colour of a pomegranate staggered up and did his usual thing with aplomb. We also had a few surprise team members show up for us; Andrew A came out of some sort of 4 year self imposed excommunication (caused by 3 small daughters perhaps?) to add us some points and Cecil R a landlubber for 30 odd years and sire of a litter of ridiculously fast swimmers made an impressive splash for us.  Also it was super to have Micaela v R come all the way from Frankfurt to swim for us.

 Close to 1000 swimmers competed from all ages 18-100 attired in all sorts of legal swim wear (thankfully the Borat suit was safely tucked away in a swim bag).  Just as well really because a day after the meet – Our Funny FINA apparently DQ’d some popular suits: the B70 & the Italian baked Jaked suit.  I say apparently because in FINA’s seemingly clear cut ruling (!) they just left those suits ‘off’ the approved suits list - so by conjecture and nuance we assume they are banned (?).  Be that as it may the records still stand as we all know that nudge nudge wink wink – nobody was exactly sure what suits Doug, Micaela and Wes were wearing when they broke their Canadian records

 On to the swimming.  As mentioned our Coach Doug (50) - swam a super meet and ended up with 3 Canadian records (200, 100, 50 Breast) and his 50 breast time 31.81 was just 0.7 shy of the world record!  Also Micaela (56) broke a Canadian record in the 50 free 30.1 (shh don’t tell her German friends!).  Wes – our on again / off again NT member broke his own world record for the 200 back and 4 other Canadian records. 

 Going through the results I noted many 1s 2s and 3s beside many of our swimmers names – shuper duper…  I’d like to also point out those swimmers had never been to a swim meet before; e.g.Marlene, came to swim just a 50 free to get her feet wet.  The many Triathletes who always have so many excuses when swimming in a Triathlon: “oooh my wetsuit doesn’t have the right racing stripe”, “ I saw Nemo and got scared”, “I got lost in a kelp farm”, “My transmission was slow” – this is some odd thing that happens after they  swim.  Well no excuses now, only dives and turns…We can safely say that NT has made our Triathletes into swimmers and they’re definitely ready to graduate into a proper multisport event, the swimming pentathlon.

 At the Social on Saturday night, Masters Swimming Canada recognized Doug for his coaching by awarding him the Excellence in Coaching Award – the first time it has ever been presented.  It was very fitting that he was awarded it by another excellent coach, Nancy Black of the Aurora Ducks.  The Roving Reporter would like to thank all those who contributed to Doug receiving this well deserved award.

 Nationals also had a couple of special guests; one from Hawaii – Karlyn Pipes-Nielson,  who holds a gazzilion world records and really showed us some fast swimming…nearly all of her times were Canadian or world records walloping men and women alike.  Another awe inspiring swimmer was Jaring Timmerman from Manitoba…knocking off world record after world record at the spritely age of 100:  http://www.thestar.com/article/635584. 

 All in all it was a super meet. So next up: the Nationals in Nanaimo Bars BC yum yum. Also Provincials will be in London – that would be the Ontario one - next March so happy racing and training…


2009 Provincials

OK lets get this out of the way right away: Baumann is not Phelps. Baumann is a lot slower and definitely looks and swims as though he still belongs in the ’80. Sporting a Simon Le Bon (lead singer of Duran  Duran) haircut complete with highlights and an old washed out Hawaiian shirt (His swim team Tech’s theme) he would fit right in an episode of Magnum PI. His swimming style is also eighties – nice flat smooth looking breast stroke – none of this bouncy bouncy, splashy grimacy stuff all the whipper snippers do nowadays. Other evidence that Baumann is not Phelps:  he did not wear one of those new fangled Speedo LZR suits… he swam his World Record 200 IM on Friday night in a plain old Speedo.  It was also noted that there was a significant dearth of bongs on deck.

 Simon Le Magnum aka Alex Baumann

So the weekend started off with a bang – Someone remarked to me that we were like the Griswalds in movie Vacation. Everything went wrong with the hotel – you name it. We couldn’t get into our hotel rooms until after the session on Friday (they weren’t cleaned until 5). I hit the bang bar with my car roof luggage carrier going into the parking lot, then when leaving the lot… the parking pass did not work - twice – this always happened with a string of cars behind me - natch. Coming back to the room after a long day of swimming on Saturday – the electronic door locks would not work for over an hour… (but at least we got a good head start on drinking in the hallway though). The cleaners obviously could not get into clean our rooms and it was already 5:00 PM. The elevators were inadequate and slow and of course it didn’t help that the hotel was crammed with adolescent Ringette players and their frightfully polite (!) parents. Stepping back now it - I was hilarious – at the time erm not so much. 

 Waiting for the locks to open

The up side was that we all had a super fun time. Friday night: Lasagne party with very nice salads and we all sat around deconstructing the swims we had and pontificating on pretty well anything else. We then had a quick snack of cold delicious lasagne from the night before. The Ducks on Saturday night hosted a ‘do’ at some gargantuan sports bar in the middle of nowhere - for some more lasagne. Then things were really starting to hum: I was in full coach mode extolling the virtues of drinking pints of Gin and Tonics. Erik and Peter being a quick study cottoned on right away. Erin was almost there but switched to Red Wine – not a good move as it turned out – as later on she spilled some on her “front”. Wes was on fire solving the world’s economic crisis. TYMS was plotting some dastardly plan to beat us or something. Then NT quickly made an exit and some landed up downtown at some small night club, others went back to the hotel for a gabfest. The nightclub scene was as one would expect from our club…it got fun and messy fast - enough said.

The Crew

Plotting and scheming TYMS

Oh yes I forgot we went for a swim meet as well. We had a very fast contingent from Havergal consisting of Heather, Stephanie, Haelie and Maria. They were persuaded to join the Saturday crew…this was met with blank looks (Saturday morning? what is that?). 

 The Havergal Ladies

I can best sum up our collective swimming up as “up and down”. We all seemed to have good and bad swims.  Bill “The Chiz” Chisolm managed to beat Alex Baumann in the 200 breast – how can that be? - you ask … Bill was swimming fly. Sabrina - a newby - swam a gruelling first meet: she swam a whole 50 and then get this, a 100 – yup 4 lengths in a row – without stopping. Wait there’s more; she rose to the occasion again and swam 2 more lengths in a very important 4x50 relay. This relay was against a former and current (?) NT swimmer Katie (she inexplicably swims for Granite for now) and the race was delicious in the outcome; NT took the lead early on, then lost the lead, Sabrina in 3rd zoomed liked a synchro swimmer coming up for air and gained a huge lead and then yours truly almost lost it to a big gun of the Granite club. Fortunately the gun ran out of pool and we won by a touch. Sweet. But we do sorely miss our Katie in a Swim or Die cap. 

 Our very own lovely Turncoat grrrrr

Friday night - Lianne swam a very fast 1500 and is probably now top 10 in the world, at length 44 she said she was kaput – but hung on for a speedy 19.19. Our Havergal team rocked and blew the competition away with a 2:02 in the 4x50 relay. Zuzanna half way through the meet was all depressed and was carping on about giving up swimming, being burnt out and all that malarkey.  She then beat the lady in the commercial (MJ) in the 50 fly by 3 100ths and all is perfect with the world – loves to race/swim etc - typical sprinter. Another new swimmer Teah had a blast competing in the 4x100 free relay for a rather piqued - from the night before – Erin. Erin couldn’t swim as her hangover induced sun glasses would have likely fallen off. But she did manage the 200 back and performed very well considering the alcohol content of her sweat was making her super fast(?). 

For this reporter it was a full on eighties weekend not only watching my new nemesis Alex Baumann (in my age group) but the car I was in had XM radio fixed on the 80’s station and MJ, Amy, Allison, Erin and I sang very loudly & very badly cheesy Toto, Bon Jovi and Belinda Carlisle tunes.

Many special thanks to Kathy for all the accommodation / travel arrangements: she really is an organisational queen - thinking of everyone all the time - making sure everyone is accommodated and having a good time. Also big thanks to Bill for the use of his Gaussian synaptic neuron interfeeder spreadsheet pulling all our relays togetherm We ended up being 5th over all – most probably due to the wild and sneaky combos he came up with! Also thanks to Erin for the social side of things keeping us on our best behaviour, ahem!


Racing and Eating

Well here we are – well into 2009.  I was going to write a “Happy New Year” Article only just yesterday and wish everyone a happy new “age up” birthday and oops I looked at my calendar and we are almost into February.  Time flies.  It really is whizzing by with all these wonderfully fast (no rest) free style aerobic sets we are popping through this month.  I think it has to do with coach Doug’s time away over Christmas and New Years at various swim camps he attended in the southern climes.  

 Coach Doug was mentioning to me that the Masters Swim Ontario Camp held on Margarita Island in Venezuela (organized by Claus – TYMS) was as usual - a blast …lots of swimming,  – twice per day, sun  and other fun activity.  2 Nters made it this year, Suzy and a newby Alban participated, they came back with deep tans especially their backs as Coach Doug had them face down in a pool for hours every day! It has been heard that Coach Doug thinks that it would be a great idea to hold an North Toronto Training Camp there next year...... could you imagine.....

 All this training is good stuff as we are heading into the spring competition season.  This year’s Provincials are being held in Nepean on March 20 – 22.   We have a good wodge of people (20, that would be by my calculations um..er  5 relay teams – oof that was a slog) already committed and we are hoping more will hop on the band wagon.   Just e-mail Kathy, Erin or myself.  Kathy has some very luxurious suites booked downtown Ottawa (woot) with plenty of space for more swimmers.  Cost will be a bargain at around $50/night - assuming you are sharing. 

 Not into road trips? Then there are plenty more pools to strut your stuff in, the Milton Spring Splash March 8th and our friends at Downtown Swim Club are hosting a thing called an All Out Swim in April – lovely Loooong Course at UofT where I suppose you are going to swim “All Out” and it’s only a one day meet.  Of course the Grand Daddy/Mummy of them all; Nations are hosted this year in Etobicoke on the  May long weekend – check them all out here: http://www.mastersswimmingontario.ca/competition/schedule01.htm

 The Breakfast Club:

Well we (the breakfast crowd) have found an alternative for our Saturday Morning ritual (for some the only reason to come to practice and the others who skip practice and just do breakfast).   “Boom” opened up right next to the pool, a place that specializes in all things breakfast.  Of course we would never abandon Yitz’s with it’s fabulous service and superb waitress Gabriela; however the need for a little peameal, crepes, freshly squeezed juices and smoothies now and then is certainly appealing.  So hang out after practice, feel the collective mood and follow the crowd … heading east or west.


A Real Roving Reporter.......

Hey there North Toronto.  I hope this finds you well.  Apologies for the mass email to those who have no idea who i am--ignore me--and to those I missed with good-byes before heading off. Life got a little hectic in the final few days.

We've been in Melbourne for 6 months now and have been loving every minute.  I'd been meaning to fire off a "Swim or Die" missive but have been busy. Had a crazy North-Toronto small-world moment on Christmas Eve when I bumped into Christina on an evening sea kayak paddle on the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania.  This may top the list of all the random places in the world to bump into someone with whom you've shared a lane.

First things first: Doug, you better get your ass down here.  90% of the women walking by our apartment could tan you into the ground....the ones that haven't tanned themselves out of the visible spectrum are a healthy orange.  You'd love it.  I boil off half of my blood volume just walking to the video store. Plus you could pull 20 people off of the street and 19 of them could recite relay splits to the hundredth of a second from the last 16 Olympics. PS, please save a spot for next year.

As for me, the work at the Royal Children's is pretty amazing.  We see some wild stuff.  Currently our most challenging problem is separating Siamese twins conjoined at the Head.  Pretty "heady"* everyday stuff really :) Kids as patient--the remaining non-conjoined ones--are fantastic and it makes clinic a lot of fun....unless one arrives just after having put their hand through a juicer; but that's far and few between, and that's why there's a Hand-Guy.

My favourite work day is Thursday.  Romy and I both have clinical downtime in the morning and are ?researching? the difference between point breaks and beach breaks along the Victoria coastline.  Surfing Rocks.   Standing up is easy.  But for us, the euphoria that accompanies this precludes turning, carving or doing anything much beyond. I look quite unfortunate in my black and fluorescent yellow wetsuit straight out of the '80's, purchased on ebay for 17 dollars.  A one centimetre coating of 1000+ SPF gives me the air of a post-apocolyptic mime which doesn't help things.  Romy pulls off the beach look far more gracefully then I do. Aside from paddling my board into waves just prior to getting munched, i haven't swam once (absolutely disgraceful*).  For those die-hards there are 6 outdoor 50 m pools plus a really big ocean within about 10 minutes of our place(WT..*). We've got into road biking since coming here....Australians are obsessed with it. You should see my new gear.  Very european.  We were told our MEC riding gear "looked like shit." We did a 250 km road ride in the fall, which was pretty much the most uncomfortable thing i've ever done in my life.

With every spare minute we travel Australia fanatically. We continue to meet our goal of spending every cent we earn here.  Actually we've exceeded it. Our vacations have been exotic. We chartered our own sailboat in the Whitsundays, sailed it ourselves and slipped past dolphins and sea turtles to empty mile-long white sand beaches.  We spent our first warm Christmas in Tasmania. On Christmas Eve we sea-kayaked, rose early the next morning, hiked to the top of a mountain and returned in time for an oceanside dinner of champagne, fresh oysters, and lobster pulled straight from the bay.

Soooo, that's life in a nutshell down under. Pretty run-on email.  Hope you're all well.  Keep in Touch. Its about 35 and sunny.  I'm watching the australian open on TV and have tickets for tonight, watch for me in the crowd. I bet its colder at home (Too friggin right it is - mate - ugh*).  I've thrown in a few vacation pics from the adventure including our former swim-or-die, lane mate and I on Christmas Eve.  Look us up if anyone plans on passing through.  We've got an extra bedroom.



Interesting Times

(pin-yin:shi shi zao ying xiong)May you live in interesting times. What a silly proverb.  It’s always interesting.  If it’s not the downturn in the economy then it’s not being able to swim in the  dark but having to make ‘do’ and swim in a swanky new pool with tons of people, big fat lanes ropes and “having” to shower with members of the opposite/same sex.  How about Suzy’s new “Nemo” swim cap complete with fins?  Do you remember Erin making breakfast far more exciting by covertly bringing much sort after sausage to Yitz’s.  Of course there’s Janey’s new “thing” with Almond Butter and how about Lane 4’s propensity to do weird things to pace times during IM sets. Of course let’s not forget Gord’s aversion to turning right at the wall instead of left (is this a Tri thing?) actually that’s not very interesting.

Speaking of lane 1 swimmers, take our Sarah for instance; she just completed the Iron Man in Florida last month in an amazing time of 10 hours ‘n change, interesting because Sarah is a swimmer.  She almost bested her PB Marathon and of course that’s after the swim and spin bits.  She said quote “mmm I felt fine, I could have pushed the bike a little harder I suppose”.  Feeling “fine” in an Iron Man? That’s actually a little beyond interesting.

There was an interesting thing on 60 Minutes last night; I saw Anderson Cooper (or is it Cooper Anderson – why does he have 2 last names? Mmm is that interesting?) do a piece on Michael Phelps.  It looks like there is some money in swimming after all - on the show he apparently turned down a $5M endorsement.  Phelps sleeps a lot and we were told the much ballyhooed 12,000 calorie diet is not true – he actually only eats 8,000 calories – yup hold that wafer thin mint.  The segment ended with a 25m race between Phelps and Cooper. Cooper from a dive going balls to the wall looking a lot like our Katie but not nearly as fast and Phelps swam from a push and did underwater dolphin kick.  Phelps thrashed Cooper.  In the amazing world of TV, Anderson was not breathing hard at all at the end of the race, (must have edited out all that interesting medical intervention) as Anderson calmly admitted defeat and shook Michael’s hand.

There are interesting times ahead as well; a bunch of us swimmers are going Curling at the Granite Club, December 12, for NT’s 1st Holiday Curling night. I was told on the way to breakfast that since curling is played on frozen water it is akin to swimming.  You know, technique being of paramount importance; balance, core strength and all that guff.  To be honest I wasn’t in the mood to argue – I was still trying to recover from the IM set.  But really, when did you last go swimming with a broom?  Do you swim with one hand ‘slipping’? Have you ever seen a curler in a LZR or a speedo?  Hmmm now there’s a picture…perhaps the Granite Club curlers need to see some swimmers in their racing get up firing off rocks and cleaning the ice?  Now that’s hot (figuratively) or cool (literally) but definitely interesting.  And oh, by the way - we already have a super turnout, it sure will be interesting and FUN so if you’re still on the fence – come on out!


Upcoming Swim Meet

A month or so into it and we are up against the first swim meet on Nov 16th.  Etobicoke is hosting the Semi-serious IV.  Which just about sums up Masters swimming in general don’t you think? we are all basically Semi serious IV.  If you were Semi serious I, then maybe you’d be too serious – semi serious III still means you get a medal.  So it is the perfect meet to start the year with.  Actually my first meet as a Master swimmer was Semi serious I and it was a great way to ease back into it.  I swam  4 events and then we got to do relays such as 4.5X swim backwards with a kickboard up your nose.  It was lots of fun – no really!

Million Meter Challenge

Swim Nerd Alert!

Noticed a lot of furrowed brows last night at practice when Bill received his 500,000m swim cap and pin.  There is a rather interesting Masters Swimming Canada (MSC) website dedicated to keeping track of your meters, best times at meets and it even has a sop for Triathletes and all you Arnold Schwarzenegger’s out there – you’re able to track cycling, running and weights.  As a bonus it even has a notes section so you can track your diet, vital signs, feelings towards numb nuts in lane 2 - whatever:  http://mymsc.ca/index.jsp Here are some fascinating facts from the website:

·         Coach Doug has swum 3,641 km – that’s almost to Europe, Iceland at least I think. It took him 3 years.

·         Someone called hosspro swam 200m in the whole of October (all freestyle). Imagine.

·         Etobicoke is winning the race in club meters – they have waterproof laptops on deck.

·         You can move to Australia, swim for Australian Masters and keep adding meters for NT... thanks Christina

·         The Gold Caps (are lovely silicone) and pins are shiny and sparkly and are really really nice

·         The Roving Reporter has not received his Million meter gold cap and pin that he was supposed to get in January. hint.

 So please sign up - NT really needs the Meters, Heck even the Cornwall Sea Lions are ahead of us this month.

 Investment & Swimming?

I was thinking today about my small and fast diminishing RRSP and what other things you can spend your hard earned cash on.  I thought of Swimming and tried to see if it was a good investment.  So here is the value proposition: Pay up front, no monthly payments and you get an ROI or that other fancy MBA term EVA that is not based on anything more tangible than a feeling of being rather chuffed after practice, the ability to drink a few more pints and have that extra bag of pork rinds - guilt free.  In addition there is that sexy chlorine smell the opposite (and in some cases the same) sex just goes nuts for.  You are the life of the party when you start talking in weird swim code: typewriter, descending sets, reverse IMs, ladders, echelons etc.  Is there a downside? Yes. You may live longer - meaning that you’ll probably still need more dough in your RRSPs anyway.  In this market it’s probably best to swim against the tide, you’ll end up further up stream when the tide comes back in – I apologise, that was a truly pretty pathetic analogy – best listen to very long distance Swimmer Warren Buffet and his ilk – buy the fear, sell the chlorine or whatever.


The Phelps Effect II

Wow.  Holy Moly.  Gosh.  My word, there are lots of people out for the first few workouts.  We are all trying to be Phelps, even Tri-athletes(!).  It is age group all over again.   8 to a lane, lots of splashing and noise and close calls at the wall, chitter chatter, lots of yelling coaches marching all over the place. 

It is super to see so many new faces.  Apparently the mayhem will continue this week due to some burnt out light bulbs at NT – apparently someone has ruled that the pool’s luminosity is dangerously low and allowing swimmers / lifeguards with miner helmets complete with waterproof 24 volt halogen head lights was a little impractical. 

But Hey - we’re OK with Mayhem, right.  That’s why we joined this club in the first place.  The rec swim routine is rather a lonely and frustrating endeavour.  First you have to get a pool sorted (you do mental contortions trying to differentiate between Adult Swim, Lane Swim, Family Swim & Rec Swim) …then when you get there you pick the ‘fast’ lane – you know, the lane with the rather large lone swimmer doing a sort of side stroke in a Frilly flowery get up with matching bathing cap.  Said frilly swimmer then looks rather cross as you pop in the pool and start doing your warmup.  By the time you’ve finished your warmup (which you have not really thought about, maybe it’s a 200 300 or 400 - You don’t know as there is NO coach).  You’ve lapped our - not so friendly swimmer - 5 times.  You are then standing there wondering what to do next (no coach remember) mmm… 8x 50 on 1:00 you think.. ok where’s the clock – no clock.  OK get out of pool get your wristwatch.  Set it up.  Already to go and guess who has just pushed off the wall in front off you.  Our Frilly flowery swimmer is not easy to overtake as he (?) / she is like a slow moving iceberg: 10% is above the surface and the other 90% spreads out for miles (well most of the width of the lane anyway) below the surface. 

Half way through the 50’s along comes Frilly’s friends and they decide to have a small conference about this ‘fast’ swimmer invading their lane.  This conference invariably happens at the end you are turning.  It’s hilarious (?) and it happens ALL the time, you are swimming up to the wall ready to give a good ‘kick’ / turn into someone’s lower solar plexus then when seeing you approaching the wall they decide quickly to launch into their ‘iceberg’ speed side stroke…ugh.

We’ve all been there so we know the drill.  We’ve grinned and bared it trying to think how wonderful it is for Frilly to be getting out with friends and have a little (very little) exercise.  

So it’s really a choice: swim with Frilly or swim in Mayhem.  I’ll take Mayhem right now but in the back of my mind at some point in my life, you never know, I may be looking for a matching bathing cap for my sagging speedo! 


The Phelps Effect

Well it has been a long time since I tapped out a report! 

We have another summer and an Olympics behind us …onto the fall we go. It will be interesting if there is a Phelps Effect (or Ephect?). Interest in swimming will increase; the Phelps diet is certainly a draw….gosh the famous breakfast: “3 Sandwiches of fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, cheese, fried onions, and mayo. One omelette, a bowl of grits, 3 slices of French toast with powdered sugar, and wash that down with 3 chocolate chip pancakes”. The journalists went wild for this one. Columnists from The Globe and The Daily Telegraph went on the diet and only managed to get through about half of it. It helps to do the 6-10K practice before hand. Basically he eats, swims, eats, swims, sleeps, repeat.

Did you notice the re-current theme throughout Swimming at the Olympics was coaching Age Group 101. The stuff 10 year olds are taught. Coach Doug was all over it. That poor bloke Cavic swanning / gliding in (sigh…) for his final stroke of the 100m fly, dum dee dum la la la for what he thought was a gold medal finish, ready to turn lackadaisically around and do the slow motion victory pumping of the air with his fists. Did you catch that silly sod from France – you know the world record holder Bernard - swimming Wes style next to the lane rope allowing an American 32 year old geezer to slip by him in the last 10m to take the win in final leg of the 4X100m Free. Coach Doug had a great time walking around the deck and putting his hand out like a police officer and saying "Stop I don't want that gold medal - I'll take the silver instead" in reference to Katie Hoff's finish in the 400 free. Or, how about all that breathing off the turn stuff? As the underwater camera showed a turn at some freestyle event Byron MacDonald was about to excitedly (does he ever say anything unexcitedly?) say “look at the swimmers all taking 4-6 dolphin kicks off the wall”, then he had to say somewhat less excitedly but still quite excited “ mmm that’s funny they should  be taking 4-6 kicks off the wall” as a few of them came up for air. Having said all that - there was one person who obviously listened to his age group coach and did everything he was supposed to and he’s the only one with 8 heavy metal souvenirs.

Moving on

We will sadly miss a couple of NTers this season. Sarah J has moved back home to the wet coast via Beijing to watch her brother get some humbling or rather team strengthening Olympic waterpolo experience. Sarah is embarking on a career in manipulations and subluxations. We will all miss her smile and free chiro advice. Another Chris, in fact Chris G or 2C has decided for some bizarre reason that moving next to EOMAC: Travel distance to workouts trumps an NT practice, famous innuendo breakfasts, mondo parties and of course world class 2nd to none coaching. Just proves, the world works in mysterious (?) ways.  Good luck both Sarah and Chris.

Bring on the 2008 -2009

So NT starts the new season on the 16th at Havergal – hopefully the Phelps Ephect is still alive and we have lots of eager beavers out ready to swim like well trained 10 year olds. What with most of us crazies all gung ho for another year of fun - Coach Doug is fielding phone calls for new recruits …so it should be a super year.



MSO Provincials 2008

A Yuk Yukking Good time

Well there went the weekend there was. Whatever that means.  Anyway we had the entire team show up this year thanks to our little registration sign off commitment thingy.  My, we had some super swimming and it resulted in a 3rd place large team overall finish for North Toronto…yup that means we are the Number 1 club in all of the GTA (of course we all know that Aurora is not part of the GTA)… As Coach Doug was heard saying "Let London and Aurora duke it out, North Toronto is Switzerland - it's about quality not quantity"



As a team we demonstrated no end of commitment and dedication; This years winner: Juan flying in early Sunday AM from Columbia (not the University - the Country) getting up on the blocks for a very fast first 100 of the 200..... then a very bad case of jet lag set in.... to Bill our almost francophone NT Swimmer flying in  from the Saguenay to 4C traveling 5 blocks from his home in Etobicoke (and No - he quite rightly does not want to switch his allegiance to EOMAC).

No fouling!

There seemed to be a nasty bug going around and we had many swimmers not feeling up to par with a few complaining of yukky tummies and flu.  Sarah B was feeling yukky on top of a rib injury, still she managed to get through the decidedly yukky 200 fly with no problems (at least from the spectator point of view!).  Janet and Nicole were also feeling a little on the yuk side but managed to swim well and keep the pool free of debris.


Records Galore!

All the records this weekend came from our super fast relay teams:

 4 Canadian Records: 4X200 free relay for 200+ (mixed – Michael B, Arthur, Sue, Katie), 160+ (men – Derek, Chris S, Chris T, Bobbo) and 120+ (women – Sarah B, Zuzana, Kathy H, Sandra).  4X100 Medley 100+ (women – Nicole, MJ, Jennifer B, Allison)

2 Ontario records: 4X200 free relay for 200+ (men – John S, Michael B, Wes, Coach Doug) and 100+ (men – Eric, Peter Bo, Peter Bl, Jonathon)

…and last but not least our World record for 4X200 free relay mixed (Queasy Janet, MJ, Trevor, Jason) which lasted about 10 minutes before pesky EOMAC clobbered our record by over 10 seconds grrr.

One inspiring note on our relay records; Michael B was instrumental in 2 of the above records after swimming events back to back – going beyond the call, wouldn’t you say?

Swim meet? Naa let’s do a workout!


I can’t list all of the individual medals as it would just go on and on and on (you can see the results for that) but we did have some notable swims: Kathy H managed to “race” a complete workout over the course of the weekend; let’s see here…she warmed up with the 200 free relay (Ontario Record) on a 2:31 pace then she immediately swam a 15X100 Main set on approx 1:20, 100 back sprint on 1:22,  another sprint 50 free in the relay on 33 (missed that one by 0.8 tsk tsk ) followed by an aerobic 1X400 free set (working on streamlining) on 5:10.  Another quick 50m free relay working on the turn followed by an easy warm down late Sunday afternoon when everyone else had gone home of a 800 free on 10:31.  Total of 3100m. Not bad - and she came away with a fistful of medals and points for NT.



Our new members did remarkably well: Paul, Haelie, Carrie, Matt, Amy, Jennifer, Peter B, Ryan, Adam, Dave, Juan, Anthony swam swimmingly swell (gotta like that alliteration eh?!)!  It was fun watching the new ‘NTers’ – many not having swam at a Master’s meet before and Danica who had never swam at a meet before - ever.  One has to wonder why one gets up super early on a beautiful weekend Spring morning, sit in stands all day long and put one’s self up on the blocks once in a while and show all just how fast / slow, great / useless one really  is.  Apparently this is fun for over 700 people who voluntarily attended.  Judging by the smiles and laughs on our new NT faces - for sure it was fun!  It was only my 3rd Provincials and they seem to get better each year!


Yuk Yuks

Apart from swimming we had many a good yak sessions around the pool deck with our competitors and fellow team mates.  After the 400 free on Saturday we all bundled up to the Airport Marriott for more Socializing at the Yuk Yuk social event hosted by the Aurora Ducks and EOMAC at the Marriott.  NT represented ourselves well with 2 tables and settled in for a super time up to approximately 10:05 PM.  We had a lovely meal with a good healthy nutty salad and one of those rather tasty chicken breast thingies that has a bizarre bone that sort of sticks out randomly, it has the perfect amount of skin, seasoning and not a spot of dark meat (good for the white meet lover I suppose?!) it was delicious.  I still try to picture these fast twitch chickens sprinting around (hence the white meat) with short stubby bones poking out of their chests?  Weird.  Anyway this was followed by a delicious I.M. killing cheese cake – I.M. killing, as it totally was to blame for my horrendous 200 IM the next morning.  I’m sure this was a secret weapon inflicted by the Ducks to immobilize the competition with delicious rich cheesecake.    The Yuk Yuks troupe then came on to entertain us and all went swimmingly well with some good old fashioned swim jokes etc. until as I mentioned 10:05.  The final comic very soon had us all feeling rather uncomfortable and hence madly squirming in our seats – the only good thing I can say is that we all had a 25 minute buttock workout.  Still on the whole, a fun evening…

Sunday surprise

The meet was winding down when some NT swimmer decided to try out a new swim suit recently used in the most successful swimming movie since … ummm - was there ever a successful swimming movie?  Anyway the swimming movie I am refereeing to is Borat.  This particular individual wore the infamous Borat Mankini  (once again - in case you missed it the first time) - and managed to “shave” seconds off his PB.  Amazingly, as was abundantly apparent - there was absolutely no shaving involved.  Unfortunately this unshaven PB, although not close to any records, caught one particular official quite off guard.  He deemed the swim wear inappropriately too fast and after the race immediately disqualified the team.  However Coach Doug came to the latest Kazakhstani technological innovation’s defense and managed to reverse the ruling.

So all in all, the 2008 MSO Championships were a huge success for NT and Coach Doug is contemplating all kinds of interesting scenarios for next year…as word is out that Provincials may be in Ottawa (Nepean) and Nationals in Etobicoke.  Stay tuned!


February 21, 2008

Sign Up, Sign Up

 So you’re all pondering The Ontario Provincial Masters Swimming Championships at the Etobicoke Olympium March 28-30 – the deadline is coming up (March 7th).  Everyone is asking themselves improbable questions; such as sprinters - Shall I try that 1500?  Triathletes - that 200 IM looks promising…distance swimmers wondering if they can really go under 30 seconds for a 50 free.  Go for it …it will be a super duper meet.  All of NT is going to be there – a first!  Coach Doug must be salivating at the multitude and combinations of relay teams.  Don’t forget to e-mail Coach Doug your entries…

NT will definitely be a force to be reckoned this year with 80+ swimmers, watch out EOMAC, London, ROW (you all know who I mean!) and our favs The Aurora Ducks. 

Don’t forget to sign up for the Saturday night Yuk Yuk social; a bunch of swimmers + bar + a dance floor = watch out.  Sign up soon, space is apparently limited.

For any of you wanting to test out this whole racing thing check out Milton's Masters Annual Spring Splash on March 2nd.  It is a great little meet to blow the cobwebs off and get into race condition.

Swim Fast


January 18, 2008

Lane Rage

 You’ve all done it.  Drafting, tailgating and swimming right up the dingus of the person in front of you.  Generally being a Clingon.  It’s kinda nice sometimes when the person in front swims slower than you …you can sort of pootle along – work on your stroke a bit, not worry about tediously counting lengths, it gives you time to think about all sorts of inanities, such as ‘that pretty swim suit Loretta is wearing over in lane 4’ or pontificating obscure sullied thoughts.  Then all of a sudden the swimmer in front gets to the wall and turns - well - right in front of you and then careens to centre of the lane.  Calamity - Because you’ve already started to move to the centre of the lane to turn – luckily the person is streamlining under water - so you try and avoid hitting their legs as you turn.  But the poor sod behind you is in for a head on collision with the person in front of you - Yikes.

Or how about this one;  just finishing up that 8th 200 fly when someone’s hand gets in the way of your recovery and “whack” you’ve dislocated that poor person’s thumb.  Or more to the point just mention the name Keith and watch out…6’5” tall and arms nearly as long.  His age group coach obviously was into straight arm recovery... a wide birth is required when swimming with our Keith.  

This is also a good one:  You’re swimming the last of many 400s, you’ve negative split every 50 and - Wow - this is IT, you’re pouring it all on, using all the gas left in the tank on the last 2 lengths.  You have a couple behind you all in step with you and you’re all just flying.  Just as you are about to turn  - DANG - 2 other lane mates decide to start a social kick set.   Right. In. Front. Of. You.  Arrrgh.  Chuck everything out the window… chalk one up to unfinished business - again.

Which brings me to Road cycling.  Road cycling is similar to swimming in that cyclists tend to cycle very closely to each other in packs or pelotons and draft off one another.  However this is where the similarities end.  Quite simply many (not all) road cyclists are boneheads – snobbish and rude.  How do I know?     Because I am one.   I have ridden 13 Rideau Lakes Cycles Tours (Ottawa to Kingston and back).   Many cyclists are gear head snobs…sneering at any bike that’s older than 2 years old and not sporting  the latest Durace or Campy kit - I fall into the trap as I take pleasure in out peddling the latest titanium $8K machine on my 15 year old Columbus steel job spec’d with ancient 8 speed Ultegra.  Along with this snootiness, many of these peloton packs can be filled with rage, you get the Leaders and Clingons of the pack angrily barking orders; “Passing”, “Car Back” or making jam jar opening gestures at the road - somehow this indicates that a pot hole is coming up.  My favourite is some anal twit gesturing for me to move over 2 inches to ‘stay in line’.   Ah but it’s all in the name of Safety you say.  But I say, have some fun with it - we aren’t the Tour de France - laugh a bit – we can be safe and have fun.  Ask any triathlon type about road cyclists and you’ll get the same answer… knuckleheads the lot of them – you don’t believe me?  Go on the donut run. 

Which brings us back to the pool.  For swimmers, our medium is liquid – there is no nasty potholed tarmac, arrogant cyclist or fancy equipment – actually we don’t really need swim suits…we just use them to cover our bits up.  Swimmers are notoriously nice, congenial people.  Most of us go with the flow as it were.  The only hazards are the wall, lane ropes and our lane mates.  But sometimes crap happens.  I guess what I’m trying to get at here - without being too preachy - is the use of etiquette - we all enjoy swimming and we swim very closely together.  Etiquette is all about thinking about the other swimmer, letting the faster swimmer go ahead of you, giving people room to turn, avoiding collisions; if someone is buggering up - speak to them exactly how you would like to be spoken to yourself.  If you whack someone regardless who’s at fault – apologize.  If you’re bent out of shape because of something - suck it up, smile, make a joke, have a laugh and give them a hug!

Let’s leave the rage on the road.


December 18, 2007

“Happy Birthday Everyone” - Jan 1, 2008

The Masters Swim calendar is interesting. Typically in North America we start the season in the Fall and “build” up to the Spring of the following year when we ‘peak’ for our provincials and national meets in March and May.  However in the UK, our North London sister club have wrapped up their season and are heading for hibernation as all good beavers do. They have just celebrated their yearend party http://www.upthebeavers.com after swimming the British Masters Championships at the end of October.  The Beavers will start their new swimming year I would say logically in …um January.

 On Dec 31 at the stroke of midnight, we Masters of the Swimmers world collectively ‘age up’.  In North America we go through this odd mid-swim season year identity crisis.  Which means in essence one is pootling along in October through December attending various meets as a happy say; 40-44 year old, wiping out (or in my case being wiped out) by those young pups in one’s age group, then all of a sudden WHAM January 1st - half way through the season - one is now 45 and one meets up with those more experienced, seasoned and faster swimmers (Hello Coach Doug!).

 I like the UK model.  The calendar year ends and so does the swim season.  One starts up the new season with a fresh ‘new age’ along with everyone else.  I’m sure there is some logic behind the North America model – but it alludes me.

 Be that as it may, we all must age up sometime and many of us have ‘special swim friends’ (SSFs) that come and go in our age groups.  We ‘keep a close eye’ on them throughout the competition year checking their whereabouts and meet results, especially when they are close to or are consistently faster than we are.  I’ve heard many SSF stories from people and they are typically told with a grudging envious admiration.

 When we attend swim meets, sometimes we wish our ‘SSF’ to be there (hopefully to pip them at the wall) and sometimes not - or hope they entered a different event - sometimes one ‘feels the need’ for a medal.  I have a few SSFs and many come and go each year.  Unfortunately one of my SSFs was born the same year as I, so there’s no getting away from him.  He loves to compete; therefore he is at e.v.e.r.y. bloody swim meet.  He is so spectacularly fast in every event I compete in – and what is even worse is that it’s not just in swimming he excels, he happens to be a huge NT chick magnet as well.  The women of NT literally go gaga over him.  And the real kicker…he is just a really is a nice guy.  My only hope to assuage my feelings of total and utter inadequacy is that he joins NT - as they say keep your enemy close. 

 With our ‘aging up’ rules as they are - I kinda like our Zuzanna’s situation whose birthday is on Dec 30th.  She is perpetually premature on her Masters Birthday by 364 days – she’s also lucky to be forever younger than most of her competitors (born in her year – and for her it seems to be a perpetually 29 years ago).  For us January born geezers - ‘grr’ – we’re not so lucky.

 So really, no matter when one ages up or when one starts a swim season – it all comes down to the famous Masters swimming saying …if you can’t beat ‘em – just out live ‘em.

 And on that happy note! I’d like to wish everyone the most excellent compliments of the season.  Remember to load up on all you can over the next 2 weeks or so because you’ll need all that extra fuel to swim fast in January. 

 Oh yes and a BIG HUGE Happy Birthday to you all January 1st.  I think we will have to arrange a big birthday party for us all in January don’t you think?


November 7, 2007

That Lovin' Feelin'

So, we love swimming.  However, do you ever get that feeling sometimes that really, you are not worthy of being called a swimmer?  That it’s all just a waste of time and why keep doing something that you know won’t amount to much and if it does it wouldn’t stand for diddly at the end of the day.  I got that feeling last night. 

 There I was in lane 3 of 3 lanes doing something Coach Liz called a California Cruise: 5 sets of a 300 ‘cruise’ followed by a 100 on a 5 second faster pace (fast) then 100 easy…  I was in a lane with Coach Jen, Carrie and Big Mike.  Lane 2 was full of hot speedsters and in lane 1 - the usual mish mash of speedboats.  We get started and Jen zooms off “leading the lane”.  I was hopelessly trying to keep up; my tank totally drained on the first go around.  For the remaining 4 sets, it just got worse.  The piece of paper said 3-5 sets.  Jen says that she planned to do 4.  Carrie, in between gasps declared that we should do all 5 – oh great - a newbie keener!  On we swam - I felt like Jack Sparrow (after a few jigs of rum) hanging onto rigging without any sort of fancy Hollywood safety apparatus below me. But hey, I was trying it all; stretching the stroke, finishing the stroke, streamlining, breathing every 3(I could manage that maybe once), swimming downhill, sideways, inverted and inside out - nothing worked, my arms still felt like fat pathetic whirling sausages.  Lane 2 people were cruising by me, everyone finishing each set and looking like they had just finished reading a Jane Austin novel – you could see that sort of contemplative, self satisfied inner peace thing going on – yup Darcy finally ends up with Catherine… aaah yes all is right with the world.  Meanwhile over in lane 3, Carrie and I are on fire, fire engine red that is and our lungs are starting to detach.  I was in that semi prone gasping position blankly staring at the water - like someone who had just survived a Jerry Bruckheimer chase scene, you know the one with the bridge blowing up after the F16/Corvette chase scene.

 At the supposedly “oh so sweet” end of the 2500m set, Jen announced languidly that for the last set she in fact felt a little piquéd  – and could only manage the 300 on 4:10.  I could not believe it.  It was a pretty innocuous thing to say and Jen is a super swimmer but my pointy brain snapped, I thought to myself – “What’s the point of it all?” - I let go of the rigging.  I went all sullen and sulked off to help with the lane ropes …and managed to screw that up as well.

 We all have good and bad swims and for that matter runs, bikes etc.  Last night for me was – as Borat would say at a Southern Baptist dinner party - “not so good”. 

 I am an Average Joe Master swimmer; any prospect of breaking records is infinitesimally small (Doug won’t allow me to use the word ‘can’t’!).  I never made Provincials or CIs.  I am your guy with a gazillion ribbons mostly 5th and 6th and a couple of bronzes for events such as 100 IM which is especially made up for Masters and the under 10s.

 I got thinking during the drive home last night trying not to listen to some old coot of a professor on CBC radio spouting on about Messy Lectures … and I suppose to get to the amazingly simple pointedly point of it all - that since we love to swim, means we have to swim through it all - good and bad.  If you don’t go through the bad you’ll never know what the good feels like? Sounds like any relationships doesn’t it – simple eh! Swimming to get that Lovin’ Feelin’!


October 17, 2007

Swimming into a new Season

 Almost a month into our new regime: A new location has resulted in a plethora of new and returning NT swimmers eagerly wandering around Eglinton, Avenue Road and Lawrence neighbourhoods most nights of the week armed with wet swim suits and towels.  NT is obviously starting to take over North Toronto.  In the not too distant future I foresee Coach Doug will be looking to other areas to annex, invade and conquer.  Unstoppable expansionism will grip NT.  Pretty soon there will only be one club competing at Provincials… that of the one and only North Toronto a club of at least 1000 swimmers from every corner of Ontario; Cornwall to Thunder Bay and Pelee Island to James Bay!  Read this maniacally => HA HA HA HA HA


 Oops that’s me falling off my high horse…Ouch.

  Anyway, back on the ground here, what was looking to be a rather uncertain future for the club in August with the Monday closure issues etc. in the end turned out to be a promising and exciting opportunity.  The Monday closure issue was resolved and Coach Doug simultaneously made the bold move to expand the club and make use of the HCS pool - much to the delight of many.  Coach Doug with his gaggle of coaches; our new coach (Judy), returning coaches (Caitlin, Jen and Liz) and a returning coach from sabbatical (Janet) are sure to add fizz, pop and bang to our workouts, resulting in super fast swimming. 

 It’s great to see so many new and familiar faces at practice and it is sure to be a super year.  

 You may have noticed when you registered there were 2 very different an interesting little dingus’s* you signed on for.  The first dingus was that you would compete in the 2008 Provincials and dingus #2 that you would not remove your bathing suit in the communal shower at HCS.  I sure hope both dinguses will absolutely be respected.  It’s going to be great to have everyone out for Provincials and we sure don’t want to see any dingus’s in the shower…

 To get the competitive juices flowing why not sign up for a swim meet?  DSC is hosting the Scary on the 28th of this month and the Etobicoke Not So Serious 11th November and the meet that we actually get a mini taper for, the North York  Gators Pentathlon in December.  NT is legendary for the good times they have at swim meets.

 In the mean time there are plenty of social events being planned, schemed and drawn up so keep tuned in, turn on and most importantly show up!!

 *Dingus – is a ‘thing’ that you really don’t know how to describe.


October 11, 2007

Beavering Away In London!

Dear Roving Reporter:

 Having returned from my workout at the Barnet Copthall Masters in North London (UK) I thought I would do well to send a letter your way for our website. I have to confess I'm having a bit of performance anxiety on this report, what with all the hullaballoo between our clubs...we're best in the world, you're not, we have Olympic-quality coaches, our parties are second to none, etc, etc.

 And with the opportunity to meet this club on their own turf, I felt the need to prep myself with sober reminders about journalistic objectivity, open-mindedness and the like. I was prepared to keep my opinions to myself, should I discover some kind of athletic prowess that would forever hang over our club. I feared the answer to my pressing questions: "what if their club really is better?" and "does anyone actually have more fun than NTMSC?". Well, the answers are here, for all the team to see.

 First, my host, Ivor Skrewkyk, was delightful as ever but ready to observe every move of this cunning beaver, should she miss a step. My first challenge was to meet him at the local tube station, and he provided me with instructions and a friendly tale that the only Canadian he had as a guest in the past had messed it up and went the wrong way. Naturally, I was running late, and in my haste to get there on time, left said instructions at the hotel. Ahem. This wasn't too much of a problem, because I remembered the stop started with the letter H.

 Hamstead was where I got off, Hendon Central was where I needed to be. Never mind though, only a 10-minute detour. I was greeted with a warm beaver welcome upon arriving at the gates of Hendon Central and Ivor was so thoughtful (read: so bored waiting for me) that he had found a copy of The Canada Post for my reading enjoyment. I asked him if he was "one of those people who arrives to practice on time" (now that we were going to be about 5 - 10 minutes late). "Yes. Mathematically precise," he said. Ahem. Of course then he clarified - "the first to arrive and the last to get in the pool". Excellent! A classic Nicole S!

 Once we got on deck, Joe introduced me to his fantastic swim coach, Ian. After some chit-chat, I picked a relatively safe lane and had a really decent workout. 4 x 150s with 15sec rests, kick/drill/swim; 4x100 25/75 fast/easy, 50/50 fast/easy, 75/25 fast/easy, 100 easy, 3 times through; 16x25s fast every 4th 25.

 What struck me the most was the realization that my improvements in swimming circa 2004 were probably due to the fact that I had no one to chit chat with, and I was bent on making sure I looked like I knew what I was doing in the pool. Representing our club (slow as I may be) was the best workout imperative I've had in ages! I highly recommend club-visiting for a good reminder of what a non-social swim workout is all about.

 But then I recommend returning to NT because we're so darn delightful! I hollered at Joe across the lane and asked if people were chatty and he said "no, we take all of this VERY seriously", implying that only serious clubs are Best In The World. Well to that I have one reply: that we are just such high-functioning, gifted athletes that we can swim circles around them AND chat in the pool. And by "we" I mean those speedy people in lanes one and two.

 But truthfully, people were all pretty darned focused! Now, Joe did mention that it's Sunday night so the mourning for the week ahead has begun, and the women were really friendly and chatty in the changeroom, but as he drove me back to the tube station, I reflected on the ways of this city as he told me that they have no Thanksgiving-like fall festivities (I mean I know it's about pilgrims in the colonies and everything but it's a great fall event), they don't do Hallowe'en (apparently they don't like dressing up, and yet they call their swimsuits "costumes" - even on the signage! You walk out the door to the pool and it says "Please have your costume on before reaching the deck" or something!), they definitely don't do much for Easter, and apparently they don't really like New Year's. Now this is a town in need of a serious Solid Gold party!!

 Anyway I could go on but I've got work to do finding something suitably unhealthy to combat the effects of the workout. On a final note, I'm told that about a dozen swimmers are planning on going to Perth. They do seem like a great bunch and I'm sure Christina would love to see many of us! 

 Also, the coach is looking for advice on youth swim clubs for a friend who moved to Maple - they need advice about where to go and were afraid about the intensity of NYAC. If anyone has advice, can you let me know and I'll forward your email address to Ian?


Erin Beavering-Away-In-London


September 19, 2007

A Meandering Rant

Well I see that Doug’s been ranting lately.  So what the heck I’ll give it a go.  In fact what I have in mind here is less of a rant and more of a wander up a few roads that could lead somewhere but to keep it interesting I’ll just come back to a small point that Doug has already made.  So here goes:

 I went for a run a few days ago with a friend of mine who had to go “2d” (he did not actually say that he had to go “2d” but I wrote it to ensure that my writing stays couth and at a level my Editor in Chief would approve of … ahem).   So what is “2d” you ask?  It is an old British expression that my mother still uses.  In the U.K. (pre 1971) to use a public Loo / W.C. / toilet one had to spend 1d or “Spend a Penny”.  1d would buy you ‘time’ to go wee wee.  So it goes to reason that ‘2d’ being double the ‘time’ meant sitting down opening the paper and enjoying some quality self time if you know what I mean.  The term ‘d’ comes from denarius – a Roman equivalent – and it took the British almost two millennia - in fact until 1971 to change the currency and the term to ‘p’ for pence or penny.  No wonder the British hung onto Imperial measurements in the face of EU dire dictates for almost 40 years – the EU has finally backed down (in fact last week, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6988521.stm) on requiring the British to change.  The lesson learned here: It is very difficult to apply a Napoleonic (French) measurement system on a small island (Britain) full of people who still call a ‘d’ a ‘p’.  The upshot is that now when you visit the UK, you can still buy a pint of beer, pound of spuds and go 60 miles an hour.  OK digression over…

 Back to the run, 6km (4.2miles) into it, friend had to go plop plops in a big bad way.  What to do?  Well it just so happened - a Community Centre materializes before us ‘poof’.  But guess what day it was - a Monday.  You’ve read Doug’s rants.  Yup..you got it - parking lot full of Community Centre Employees – Community Centre locked.  My friend was walking around with that pained cinched up look – he had definitely passed the point of seeking sanitized refuge - hence the Community Centre immediately received a small perfumed gift in the nearby shrubbery. 

 I’m sure you can connect the dots and find some sort of poetry, symbolism or metaphor in this whole unfortunate incident.  Needless to say my friend and I had a very animated conversation on the run back…

 With all that being said – and that was quite a verbose way to say what ever it was.  I am happy that we have our Mondays back – being that NT is a non city run fee paying group.  I must say it was refreshing that e-mails, phone calls and impromptu meetings with City Councilors actually do have an impact on City Hall.

 I might also like to add that I love swimming in a 27.34 yard pool at NT!

 Looking forward to seeing you all on deck soon…!


August 10, 2007

NT Goes Rec Swimming

Last Saturday morning there was no workout due to the “long weekend”.  That being the case a few NT swimmers and of course the requisite FONT (Friends Of NT) showed up at 10 AM sharpish to commence some swim-like activity. 

 First off, I was taken aback by how out of place we NT/FONT folk were at Summerville on a lovely Saturday morning in August.  Most rec swimmers (i.e. not compelled to compete) are there to just generally float about and ‘go’ roughly in the direction of the posted board.  Once they do a ‘few’ laps they tend to lie in the sun, do some people watching and perhaps doze off - Actually come to think of it, it certainly sounds like a very civilized pursuit and makes me question my zeal to hammer out a zillion descending 200’s on some silly pace time on such a gorgeous morning.  But there we were - all 10 of us - ready to swim or die!

 As we emerged onto the deck we encountered a rec swim fellow who was seriously stretching and wiggling his muscles for the impending plunge (feet first of course).  Nothing new here you say – many NT/FONT are often trying to nudge immovable objects such as columns and walls with outstretched arms in the name of stretching.   Our Bill C is known to actually do this as part of a race (see Provincials 2006).  But what set this particular chap apart from your regular wall hugger, windmill impersonator and shoulder shaker/shrugger was his vigorous gluteus maximus wiggling (a la Britney at her sexiest(?)) and his concentration on getting the motions absolutely perfect.

 Us NT/FONTs were a bit taken aback to say the least as we came upon this ‘awe’ful (inspiring?) display.  Here was a guy taking his stretches and wiggles very, very seriously.  We were obviously very self conscious and decided to skip the stretch thing and slide quickly into the pool.  We slipped into the fast lane and all 10 of us proceeded to swim a regular 4000m workout (mainly 200’s).  The well ‘warmed up’ gentlemen turned out to be quite a nice fellow and remarked to Erin how he admired our collective swimming abilities.  Unfortunately Erin missed the chance to reciprocate the compliment with a comment about his super gyrational warm up routine. Erin … Tsk tsk!

 At brunch after practice we shared other stories of rec swim encounters and especially swim etiquette.  At the end, the consensus was to ‘go with the flow’ not to ruffle the feathers of other swimmers and just ‘quietly’ swim around them - after all we are supposed to “share” the pool.  We did however go down the list of things that annoy us the most:

1)     On busy days when it is difficult to pass slow swimmers, who are in a world of there own, not aware that for the last 200m you have been trying to overtake them and they refuse to stop at the end to let you pass.  “Erm … Earth to plonker in from of me wearing a swim suit …hello!”

2)     Again slow swimmers who hang around at the end and just as you come to the wall to turn; they take off in front of you.  “Ugh” …much like the above – gormlessness personified.

3)     Swimmers not following the flow correctly resulting in some interesting collisions.  Umm… this is not necessarily a rec swim phenomenon … is it now?? 

4)     And last but not least being told that you are too fast for rec swimming (!).   It’s probably that you are actually making a wake and are drowning the ultra peaceful grey hair breaststrokers.  Actually this probably is a really good time to practice “slow” swimming and work on drills.

 Although the above is par for the course at rec swimming it all comes down to good manners and the ability to take a deep breath, smile and …ahem …rise above it all!

 So rec swim is a fun time – relaxed, informal but you have to bring along your buddy Mr. or Mrs. Tolerance and a sense of humour.  So next time workout is cancelled or it’s not scheduled let’s get together for another adhoc rec NT/FONT swim.


June 25, 2007

Chlorinated Love is in the Air at NTMSC

It was done and then it was done again.  A lane 1 swimmer - MJ marries a lane 2 swimmer - Marc in May …and then the exact same thing happened last weekend - Jonathon (lane1) and Nicole (most of the time standing by Lane 2) got all knotted up in the lane rope. Fantastic!  Congratulations to both the happy couples!  It’s Honeymoon time in the first 2 lanes!

 Coach Doug says that Jonathon and Nicole was the 4th such union that was conceived and gestated at the NTMSC.  Marc and MJ met in post grad school but the relationship grew and developed between NT workouts and sets.  For some reason NT seems to provide the right sort of “je ne sais quoi” for this kind of lane merging type stuff. There seems to be a chlorinated love bug in the air as other swimmers are planning to tie a somewhat wet knot as well - although mostly to land lubber types with an obvious penchant for chloriney mates: Jason and Dr. Doug this summer and Anne (when the venue is sorted).  Allison also recently announced her engagement.  Exciting times ahead – congratulations to all!

 As I think I mentioned before, being married or having a swimmer as a mate requires some getting used to.  The reek of warm chlorinated skin piling into bed with you at night…the wet swim suit often left lying on the bed…and of course being woken up in the middle of the night to mumbles of  “hey Phelps can I go ahead – this is supposed to be a negative split set.”Swimmers can also have an acute sense of comedic timing as well.  My wife really enjoys it when we are both frantically getting ready to go shopping (I’m usually “frantically” pondering the editorials in the paper) and I say something really funny like “It’s OK Honey we’ll leave on the next blue top 5 seconds apart”.  Oh boy does she ever laugh. 

 Anyway swimmers make great mates…they tend to be kind and considerate; needing to ‘streamline’ they often let the other person “take the lead”.  They also tend to know a lot about pacing which makes bedtime activities really exciting and novel, for the male swimmer it goes like this ”OK honey this set is a 1x100, I definitely thinking of you as it’s going to start out being long and easy and then towards the end hard and fast …um…on 1:30”  and for the female swimmer “OK Honey we’ll start out with you descending as long as I want, and then going  least 25 sets of 1500 on 25 minutes”


So to all betrothed and the soon to be betrothed: may you have a long, happy and - when appropriate – a “swimmingly wet” marriage!

June 16, 2007

NT Year End Bash - Hillbilly Deluxe

Well wease all ‘ad a fine time at the grotto - layin up by the cement pond with that cute little vinyl blanket in ‘er. Eatin’ great vittles washed down with the finest shine.  Hot diggity we had on a ball.  The kind folk who put on the spread was Katie Barbie Jane Hathaway – all decked in pink, Erin Ellie Rockin’ May – she came complete with a purhty John Dear belt buckle – The boys were sure turning there heads.  Our Head Buckaroo was all decked out in yer Jim Dandy snake skin sneakers (snakers), a fine Gold’s Gym beater and he sure did git all them women folk worked up with his beauty teeth All the ladies were linin’ up to git a big peck on the cheek yee haa (An’ I must add our invited dintists were duly impressed with his dandy lookin’ pegs).  I must say all the other boys at the gatherin’ were mighty put out by all the affections he was gittin.  

 Our Tractor drivin’ Trevor showed up with ‘is slick new ‘stache and matchin’ burns and his buddy Brett with a real slick hair do and rope belt.  Purhty well all thte folk at the ho down were dressed proper – even Michael spent some green and fixed up ‘is teeth - agin much to the joy of the ladies.  Strange tho’, there was some poor weird critter wearin’ a truly ugly orange and purple city slicker sport beater - he sure got yer funny looks.  I tell ya some people are thick as 2 short planks when it comes to wearin’ proper party duds.

 Music was provided by a couple of good ol’ boys from God’s Country -  some mighty fine banjo pickin’ and geetar strumming.  Janet’s Paw and their friend sure put on a nice showing.  Derek joined in with his ‘tar and tried to keep up but I thinks he got all a mashed up coz his head wasn’t goin’ fast enuff for ‘is fingers.   Still thar music just topped off the whole party just right.

 The awards ceremonies went off swimmin’ like.  The Rookie of the year ghost trophy went to a mighty fine lookin’ Sue and then Buckaroo got all confused coz he was tryin’ to find a swimmer in yer lane 5 to give the Taper ‘ward to.  But dog gone it didn’t he just went ahid and give the taper to the whole dang lane.  Imagine that.  They all got the trophy coz I’m supposing they all swim like Fred’s catfish down at the cement pond…they’re all caught up in the swim spirit of it an’ all.  I think Fred puts special concoctions in that their pond to make his Catfish swim so slick like.  I’m also thinking that Buckarooo has some sorta spell over them too.  Anyway I think theys mightily deserved the honours and good on them fo being such good swimmin’ sports.

 So that’s all folks - that’s all the words I got in me right now.  Another great party and as the Head Buckaroo keeps on a sayin’ we are all in the NT family.  Yup we is all cuzins, brothers, sisters, mommas, poppas whatever – it don’t make no difference - havin’ a grand ol’ time.


June 14, 2007

Summer at Summerville

So we are almost at the end of another season at the NTCC and we’re off to outdoor swimming at Summerville.  Hooray for many of us who like a 50m (+/-) pools with a nice deep shallow end and plenty of room to do some really nice big ass arcing flip turns that really make one stop – literally (apparently this is something I need to work on!).  Anyway Summerville also has nice soft slippery vinyl surfaces – comfy for our footsies pushing off the wall and for us head wall bangers doing backstroke - not noticing the flags - we are careening obliviously along in a mind meld with some cloud in the sky that looks like a group of turnips or perhaps the London Olympics 2012 Logo.  Of course the best thing about this pool is the fact that it is outdoors.  On a nice cool evening with a wind blowing off the lake it’s kinda like sailing – it always seems faster swimming down wind.  To keep warm you have to swim fast with little rest and breast stroke is the warmest stroke as you take advantage of everything being warm and toasty underwater except when you stick your head up for a breath and get a nice blast of cool breeze...it is just so cool (it all makes for a great workout - except for that annoying constant noise – a high pitched whining / bleating sound emanating from the perpetually cold types).  But really the outdoor experience comes into it’s own on a beautiful Saturday summer morning – with the trees gently swaying in the breeze and a few whispy (very non London Olympics Logo looking) clouds in the sky – little or no traffic noise.   Bright sunshine.  Coach Doug all smiles with the Hasselhoff tan sitting at the end of lane one with a stop watch in one hand and a figurative whip in the other commanding a frightening long typewriter set.  Ahhh - the agony of total maximum physical effort in lane 1 only to be told an outrageously pathetic time and then the ecstasy of walking to the lane 6 chat/muck about lane.  All this self inflicted drama on a beautiful summer morning - it really can’t be beat!  Then to top it all off – we all haul on off to a delicious brunch at Nevada.  Let’s go - Summer and Summerville!


April 24, 2007

NTMsc Best in the World

I’ve been following this FINA controversy closely: – various definitions of the size of the world, swimming decedents of rebels, our coach being described as a head of various creatures; beavers, buckaroos, kangaroos etc (click on upthebeavers).  Everyone from the President of Masters Swimming Canada, upthebeavers - Ivor Screwkyk (who started this whole thing) and Coach Doug seems to be in quite a tizzy over this whole FINA thing. So it got me thinking, especially after events this past weekend, and I can safely say without a shadow of doubt that - yes - we are actually the best Masters Swim Club on the planet. 

 Yup that’s right - the whole wide world – terra firma– not the world bounded by roads, the GTA or even oceans – but the one bounded by the giant vacuum of space (including all that flotsam - defunct satellite bits, golf balls and mars bar wrappers the astronauts like leave about while on their jaunts into space).

Let me explain how I arrived at this conclusion with some pretty bullet proof logic:

1)  This past Sunday we obliterated all the competition at the 1st annual EOMAC Pentathlon.  There were a number of swimmers from a number of HUGE clubs in Ontario.  Also there was a Quebec swimmer who flew in from the Québec provincials which definitely makes this meet a national and arguably an international event.

2)  At the Québec Provincials (again - arguably an international event) in Québec city - our very own Bill (4 Or, 1 Argent, 1 Bronze) and Ms. Christina (her name á la Français - check out the  results) - 1 Or, 5 Argent.  Literally cleaned up.  That other fellow who is almost an NTer - Wes - walked away with 5 Or and 1 Argent…AND a world record in the 200 back.

3)  Coach Doug says so.  As always humble and modest to the extreme. 

I think FINA will no doubt agree and will be so impressed that they will come up with some sort of trophy to bestow upon us … something like the FINA Best Masters Swim Club in the Whole Wide World Trophy (BMSCWWWT - of course not to be confused with Burlington Master Swim Club) -  it has nice ring to it wouldn’t you say?

By the way there was some remarkable swimming in the pentathlon.  NT was at both ends of extreme swimming – lots and little.  Think about this - 10 events in 4 hours.  Trevor, Derek, Eric and our Jonathon swam the pentathlon relay as well as there own individual pentathlon events.  Amazing or just nuts?  Both I think.  At the other end of the spectrum we had some - I would say - affluent (?) sprinters who spent $30 to swim a 50 which works out to 60cents/meter.  But no matter - they swam brilliantly - they were rested and full of vigour…their presence and points made for NT to be tops and an even more enjoyable meet for all.  Check out the trophy in the NT display case, you can’t miss it – it is a humungous shiny gold chalice with a male figurine swimmer assuming some sort of position on top.  If you’re male, over 40 and been to the doctor lately – you’ll know what I mean.


April 19, 2007

NTMsc to be investigated by FINA?

From the editor:

 Masters Swim Canada President Chris Smith has stepped into the latest controversy involving NTMSC.  The following is a letter sent to Up The Beavers, and Masters Swimming Canada.


Dear Up The Beavers,

I am sure that all charges against Doug will prove to be unfounded. What he did say was that North Toronto Masters are the best Masters Club between Eglinton and Montgomery, Yonge and Oriole Parkway and that this is our World.

Doug, who is well known for his modesty and shyness, is highly supportive and appreciative of the peace and tranquility of this little corner of Toronto and urges his team to respect this. In fact it was from Montgomery's Tavern, a block from the pool, that an over-cidered group of local farmers launched the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1848 against the Squires of Muddy York. It is probable that several of his team are descended from these farmers, and like to keep this fine Canadian tradition alive.

I am also surprised at the lack of global fauna knowledge of your staff, particularly considering your website name. Doug, as all Masters swim coaches in Canada, is referred to as "Head Beaver". It is the other guys who have kangaroos.

Chris Smith
Masters Swimming Canada


Coach Doug's Reply:

Dear Mr. Smith,
In defense of any charges that may be directed at me. I must say the following;
In the memory of  Montgomery Tavern's Rebel Leaders; Anthony van Egmond (good old Dutch heritage), Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount.
I must correct you and state very clearly that I did very much say that we are the best Masters Swim Club in Canada if not the World.
In the tradition of our rebel ancestors, (but hopefully with a much better results) the club is very prepared to take our cause forward.
Yours Modesty,
Doug Vanderby
Head Buckaroo



April 12, 2007

The British Beaver Encounter

 British Beavers were thought to be extinct following the great British Beaver pelt hunt of 1867.  The little known Henry IX - the illegitimate son of Queen Victoria and Norris the chimney sweep - had a ‘special thing’ for Beaver pelts and rather oddly liked to have his mother’s guards wear them on their heads while they pointlessly marched back and forwards in front of Buckingham Palace for the future pleasure of millions of tourists.  In 1867 - ironically the founding year of the country of Canada and the Beaver as it’s National symbol! - Henry decreed that all British beavers were to be turned into hats for her guards.  Or so he thought.  Apparently a few beavers escaped the cull and formed a Masters Swim Club in North London: Up The Beavers

 This rare modern day Beaver (Castor Corblimeyus) - was spotted 2 weeks ago lurking in and around lane 1 at the start of Saturday’s NT practice.  It was actually eyeing the take down of a lifeguard’s chair when it caused quite a commotion.  Not having seen a male foreign beaver before, many female NT swimmers squeaked and squealed with delight and immediately ran over and started stroking the smooth beaver’s pelt and prodding at the Beaver’s tail.  This particular beaver took it all in with typical aplomb – sniffing, salivating, looking about and grunting (as Beavers do). This eager beaver then slipped into lane 1 and started to work it’s little tail hard trying to keep up to the blistering pace of the lane 1 swimmers.  After the workout with the beaver all shagged out - the NT’s female swimmers went to work again using alluring gesticulations and stroking - in a few seconds they were able to completely revive the beaver and entice it to come to NT’s Saturday Breakfast ritual.  The now perky beaver pronounced in quite recognizable English, “jolly good then - off we go”.  Sitting at breakfast surrounded by a gaggle of giggling NT females the beaver seemed most bemused and aroused and once again started to grunt, sniff, salivate and look around.  Following a meal of lox and a 2X4 of fresh untreated pine it then snagged a ride to it’s temporary lodge and apparently returned to it’s native terrain via a train (ugh I know - bad pun) to Montreal and a Plane ride to London (?). 

 The beaver (aka Ivor Screwkyk) subsequently wrote about his experience with NT at Upthebeavers.com.  Even though the NT Beef Knish secret is now exposed and the supposed FINA inquiry underway, NT‘s Coach Doug meekly commented innocently and politely “what can I say?”.

Before leaving, the Beaver also graciously extended an invitation for any NT swimmer wandering around North London needing a chlorine fix to hook up with the Beavers for a practice.

April 5, 2007

NT has a International Sister Club!

From the editor:

As our Roving Reporter reports on the various ins and outs of NT. Who would have thought that his international contacts would bring a fellow Roving Journalist to our humble pool. This was the case on Saturday March 31 where NT welcomed Joe Twyman (Ivor Skrewkyk - editor of Up The Beavers), from the Barnet Copthall Masters Swimming Club of London, Great Britain. Outside of the marching band, the official welcoming committee of Erin and Katie made Joe feel right at home. Even Coach Jen got into the act with a very suspicious sounding English accent. Joe came into a very tough workout and in typical Brit style, held his own with the speedsters of NT. The highlight of course, was his introduction at breakfast, to a Yitz's Beef Knish. Again Joe held a very British stiff upper lip although one could swear it curled one or two times....

North Toronto Masters Swim Club wishes to announce our official Roving Reporter link to our new sister Club in Britain: Up The Beavers UK's Leading Website for Masters Swimming.

March 30, 2007

NT Rock's - Blasting the 2007 Ontario Provincials

Porpoise Eric, on the left, takes on Orca Derek in a very exciting guppy verses elder 200 Mix Medley Relay.

 Kaboom Kaboom … The rocks were flying … explosive starts, turns and finishes.  Coach Doug’s mantra this year paid off in spades.  We had some super swimming this past weekend in Sudbury.   I’ll be expounding on some interesting wet and dry (?) side activities.   Once again this puppy is a long one, so sit back, put your feet up, beverage in left hand and scroll wheel/ball with the right.

 A few months ago Coach Doug was a little apprehensive about fielding a decent team for Sudbury and it started out as a bit of a winger …but momentum grew and with goading, arm twisting, veiled threats and to help Doug out I actually tried my hand at a little extortion - it went like this – hey I’ll write nasty things about you if you don’t go and I’ll write a nice thing if you do go.  And since I actually can’t write nasty things about other swimmers the threat was really quite empty. Anyway Jen is cool.

 Eventually we had 26 swimmers going north to Sudbury.  Key fashion statements were on display by both the major teams (in terms of numbers - Aurora and London) on and off deck.  The meet was overrun with a busload and more of Ducks complete with matching ducky tees, tattoos and to top it off - the men were flashing rather fetching bright yellow manicured toe nails. Close behind in fashionista was at least another bus load of Silver Dolphins.  At the Saturday social they were resplendent in silver / grey with the women sporting sparkling tiaras.   Coach Doug was so impressed with both team’s spirit that he has now instituted an official NT cap policy – if you wear a cap you are obliged to don an official NT cap during meets.  i.e. Jen would be really super cool still if she had worn her NT cap during the relays.


 For the most part the team got to Sudbury in a very straight forward manner.  You know, open car door, sit down, and if you were driving - put transmission into D (or use the 6-5 speeds), drive north and stop for pee in Parry sound etc...  However one dedicated swimmer had a wee bit of a challenge – to get from the far reaches of Hudson’s Bay (The True North) to Sudbury (actually a bit of a ‘northern’ fib).  Marc should be awarded with some sort of Indiana Jones award.  He took pretty well all forms of available Canadian transport: a skidoo, helicopter, 4x4 over an ice road, a dual mode plane – a regular 30,000’ variety that converted very quickly - by having a cabin window accidentally blow out - to a 5000’ machine (complete with oxygen mask thingies).  Describing seemingly petrifying event Marc blithely said (quote), “I found it kind of interesting that it was snowing in the cabin”.   Luckily the dual mode plane found a disused NORAD airfield to land on.  Whereby another plane took Marc to Kingston (I know – why Kingston? - don’t ask) anyway from there a cab to a Train bound for Toronto’s Union station, subway, streetcar and finally he had to drive his Mazda protégé for a lovely 4 hour drive back up the way he came to Sudbury.  In effect he did a “J” tour of most of Ontario.  He started out at 11 am Friday Morning and was in his beautiful fiancé’s arms at the Travelodge in Sudbury at 3:43 am Saturday morning (16hr 43 min).  The really impressive or slightly nutty bit - both I think (it really helps to be a little nuts to be on this team!) – was that at 8 am he was warming up for the first event - the 200 IM.


 Missing in our line up this year was ‘I like a challenge’ Bill – but thankfully his spirit of hardcore swimming was carried down to 2 guppies (<35?) and they nicely book ended the meet.  Pete B. already to zing in more ways than just swimming (i.e. he had a nasty stomach flu) started it all off on Friday with a very respectable 400IM warm up for the next but one event, the 1500.  Interestingly after completing this feat, our Pete really wasn’t the same for the rest of the weekend.  On Sunday; Rob, after swimming all his chosen events during the weekend (including the 1500) and the requisite 117 relay events we were all signed up for, he whipped off a 200 Fly and swam the next event – the 800 free.  These guys are not sprinters.


 There were plenty of other gutsy swims – and one especially was the women’s 200 fly.  Now before I get started on this, I must confess something – right after the meet - e-mails were flying around thanking the Team / Coach Doug for the wonderfully Sudbury spiritual experience bla bla etc.  Well some NT swimmers who shall remain nameless identified themselves as ‘flakey emotional’ sprinters.  I am a sprinter and hence have a cottage in Flake City and am prone to the odd emotion (especially when on a swim meet diet of powerbars, dried fruit and Redbulls).  Sue (a fellow flake) was finishing up the 200 Fly (now that’s a sprint) - feeling great for aproximately186m of the race and then all of a sudden her lungs didn’t know whether to breathe in or out (she hyper-ventilated).  Having to stop – she shook her head, gasped and after a couple more attempts with the crowd cheering her on finally finished the race to win a gold medal.  Overcome with emotion she waited until the race was finished.  An 83 year old in lane 1 was also overcome with emotion when she stopped 5m from the end and grabbed the lane ropes – the crowd was going nuts.  Sue went over to console her fellow swimmer and many in the crowd also became - overcome with emotion. At this point it was time for your flakey reporter to leave and start thinking really really hard about Nickel extraction and its impact on the local economy.


 Other gutsy NT swims were abundant in the relays.  Coach Doug did a wonderful job with sorting out who was doing what in the relays.  Each of us pretty well had to race on average 213 relays over 2 days - and once again it was the Guppies (120+) against the “Elders” (160+) as Doug likes to call us.  In the 132nd relay your flakey reporter was chased down like a Cheetah (yup Ben Johnson http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/murmurs/archives/2006/20060327_cheetah.html style) on a March Hare with Myxomatosis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myxomatosis on the final 100 of the men’s medley.  Luckily the pool wasn’t long enough and your Myxo Elder out touched Cheetah Trevor by 15/100ths.  In the 200 Mix Medley Relay, this time, the 160+ Cheetah - Coach Doug - close the gap but was unable to out touch a leaner 120+ Super Bunny – Rachel.


 Speaking of Cheetah’s, we had a couple of cases of being labeled Dairy Queen or DQ during the relays.  Anchor Guppy - Cheetah Trevor pounced too early during the free relay resulting in a round of Dilly Bars for young ones – allowing the elders to score an extra one over the guppies.  The other DQ was instigated by Brent who jumped in for a cool down while the race was still in progress.  Luckily 2 other teams also jumped in – so the 3 teams formed a tri-lateral all powerful syndicate for protesting the DQ.  With much pleading, groveling and playing up the confusion with the presence of a permanent warm up lane in lane 8 - we were reinstated – nice job coach!  Lesson learned though – wait till the race ends before a) jumping in to cool off (very DQable) and b) getting out of the pool (not DQable but it’s just good form to wait until the last swimmer finishes)


 There were plenty of other notable swims such as Michael B’s sub 30 second 50 free and Kate B knocking 5 seconds off 50 free.

 Believe it or not these weekends are not all about the swimming. In fact most of the usual things that happen on these road trips happened on this one.  For instance leaving someone (Suzy) behind at the banquet hall – only to have them escorted home by a fast swimmer, super nice guy and special friend of NT - Dr. Perfect from a rival team (grr.. ).  Hotel Security asking us to be quiet during our Saturday night hotel room binge, making a mess in a hotel room (thanks for the sparkly streamers Sue/Zuzanna!).  Watching the Leafs lose after being up 4-1 and then the next day they win..ugh and then finally on the way home having an accident in the Parry Sound washroom (yup that dried fruit, powerbar, redbull diet is a real bitch).  So really nothing too out of the ordinary, but combine it with all with the swims and characters we have on this team and woah – quite a memorable trip.

 So a big thanks to Coach Doug and everyone who helped pull this one off (including all those people various pilots, skidoo operators, engineers etc…who helped Marc get safely to Sudbury).  We certainly blasted some big rocks this past weekend!

February 20, 2007 

IM Nuts

It’s funny; lately I have had a bit of a love affair with the IM.  I say ‘a bit’ because I’m sure it hopefully won’t last very long.  The thing about IM is that you have to be half decent at all the strokes…most people like to specialize in maybe two strokes – and then muddle their way through the other two.  I, on the other hand, am not bad at free, pretty awful at fly and truly ghastly at back and breast.

Of the IM events, the 100m is an especially dizzy number to race - a typical 100 IM for me is like this:  Beep goes the starter - I’m groovin’ to the smooth dolphin fly motion and then wham I’m on my back and flapping away like I’m on a broken BBQ rotisserie, then whoof I’ve flipped over again and am doing my best frog imitation – futilely pouncing away at my own bow wave.  At the end of 3 lengths my noggin is spinning - ”Thank God” I think “I’ve only got a length of free left” but my swimming brain / stroke / muscle connections are in ruins.  I have to rely on muscle memory to swim any semblance of freestyle to finish the race.  I find I am literally talking to my body parts…”OK left arm forward, now right arm …good … ok boys …please, a little faster …ok legs what the heck are you doing down there? What is this side to side stuff? no no no - up and down - … sheesh!”.  At the end of the race I am completely spun – I struggle to get out of the pool, shaking and stumbling by the timers to get my towel and fumble my flip flops on.

200 IM is only slightly better in that my brain/muscles get in some sort of rhythm before having to change stroke but like all 200s - it is really just a very long nasty sprint.  For me, the end of the 200 IM results in pretty much the same stunned incoherence as the 100 but with at least double the fatigue.  The 400 IM – I can’t really fathom or comment on as I have yet to attempt it, but it’s safe to say - I’d probably be unconscious at the end of it.

So why do I have a love affair with IM - you ask?  I don’t know really, perhaps you may think my hero was super IMer Alex Bauman or it’s because I’m a real swim geek with a penchant for masochism. Actually I think it’s because I secretly like that weird wobbly feeling – yup I know what you’re thinking - it takes all sorts to make up this world - nuts and all!


January 17, 2007

Swimming in the Big Nickel

"The girls are out to Bingo and the boys are gettin' stinko,
And we think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night.
The glasses they will tinkle when our eyes begin to twinkle,
And we'll think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night".

 Ah yes the wise words of Stompin’ Tom Connors. This year’s provincials happen to be in Sudbury March 23 to 25 - and I can see your eyes twinkling at the thought already. Imagine a true Canadian swimming adventure (definitely not that high falutin’ wine tasting thing last year): We’re going to a place that put Canada on the map with a big bang (literally) – the 2nd largest crater in the world - the Sudbury Basin. Home of the Big Nickel and one of greatest Canadian swimmers ever Alex Baumann

A drive up north to Sudbury: 2.5, 3.5 - whatever hours to get there. Stopping at the many Timmys along the way (how quintessential is that!). We’ll swim our little hearts out Friday night with no doubt all that distance stuff. Then we settle into the usual NT silliness at the hotel – it’s just like age group swimming all over again except it’s “Adult” age group. This is followed my more swimming the next day and then the finale: The Sudbury Saturday Night - NT style. Oh yeah, I can see it now.. The cadre of girls with their dabbers, smokes and slurpies in hand etc. out to Bingo… the boys headin’ to the local tavern for some pickles eggs, hot rods, washed down with quarts of 50. The girls and guys to meet up later to share the bingo winnings buying rounds of swimming pools. Giddy Up….

What the heck I’m sure it’s only relays the next day and the lovely drive home…

I also know your swims are likely to be very FAST. The pool – as I remember – is full of “fast water” or something like that. I was at a meet there many years ago and most of our team did their PBs. The pool seems to have that special indescribable quality that makes you swim faster. Of course there is also the fact that Coach Doug will have us all in top physical and mental form for the meet!

Remember how much fun we all had last year in St. Catherine’s (April 8, 2006) ? – yup, I thought not – trust me it’ll be a blast just like 1.85 billion years ago!


December 20, 2006

Swimming and making merry is there anything else?

 First off I’d like to wish everyone a Shuper De Duper holiday and New Year: Pound that Egg Nog, woof down that Christmas pudding … enjoy enjoy … plenty of swimming in the new year to burn it all off!  Oh and - by the way - hot off the presses - Jason has just become engaged this past weekend!  Congratulations to Jason and Carolyn!

 Lately NT has performed exceedingly well in both swimming and ahem…making merry.  Looking over the results of the past few swim meets (Etobicoke, Kingston and the North York Pentathlon ) we really did well.  Countless podium finishes and looking at the pictures of the meets it also looked like we were having a great time producing personal bests. Most of the Pentathlon NT girls managed somehow to swim all in the same heat providing a spectacle of excellent swimming - great turns, charging the wall without bumping their heads etc…!

 In the merry making department - The Solid Gold Party went off with a bang!  Everyone did the super freak and had a groovy trip to funky town and someone even ended up in the oh so hip closet! A Far out Thanks to Solid Gold Sister Erin and all who helped decorate bring food, bringing the disco and the ball etc…

 Talking about superb swimming and parties brings me to one person who personifies these two specialties and also has a 3rd area of expertise – great coaching.  Our Janet Mayville, who will, unfortunately for us, be leaving for her 2 loves: Dan and warmer climes (Florida) in the New Year.  I’ve just jotted down a few things that I have learned from the past 18 months of knowing Janet: Swimming – Janet’s is the Karen Kain of the pool.  She is a ballet dancer that manages somehow to swim around water. In fact many swimmers complain that swimming behind her is like swimming alone – there is no drafting – she’s just too dang efficient!  She also trains to her own beat, often eschewing the speed demons in lane 1 to work on technique in other lanes and it obviously pays off:  She holds the 2006 world record in 100 free (age 30-34).  A truly ‘world class’ swimmer (You can actually justify using that rather worn cliché here). Janet is also the zest (yes that’s right just like the soap) - intense refreshing and …um… clean(!) of any gathering.  Brunch is a few decibels louder and cheerier, parties a little spicier (check out how many photographs there are of Janet licking/kissing something somewhere!).  She just seems to always whip things up.  She is the antithesis of introvert - the consummate extrovert.  If something wild is going on – you know that Janet is either the instigator or making it even wilder. Coach extraordinaire.  Janet is a natural; Enthusiastic, energetic and caring.  Coach Doug and Coach Janet – Two type ‘A’ passionate swimmers that often create complimentary and sometimes interesting divergent dynamics, but with all the best intentions – to do the best for the team.  We’ll definitely miss her on deck.


 We’ll miss her in many more ways I’m sure.  Janet promises to keep swimming for NT and visit regularly… She apparently can’t make Provincials in Sudbury as she has a commitment in Las Vegas (a birthday?).  Imagine that: forgoing a trip to the home of the Big Nickel, unnaturally occurring moonscapes and Science North to visit unnaturally occurring Casinos and an Eiffel Tower in a desert.  Choices, choices!!

 If I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of the team – as I’ve spoken to many about Janet’s departure (and still - a few of us are still in denial, I’m still hoping for a Spring 07 return).  We profoundly thank her for all she’s done for NT and wish her all the best for her future.

November 22, 2006

2 Meets and 2 Parties

 So far this season NT has participated in 2 swim meets and one party.  Both meets (Etobicoke and Kingston) were well attended and our swimmers did very well. Looking at the results many - 1st and 2nd places – nice.  As Coach Doug says we saw some great times, something is definitely working! One thing that did jump off the page was the low male turnout (although those that did participate were all smiles with the lopsided ratio). Are our men scaredy cats? Are we too busy? Come on guys – we need to show up and do our thing.  Let’s try and have a good turnout for the Pentathlon in December.

The party held by our gracious host’s, Nicole and Jonathan, was a great success with many swimmers mingling and trying out Jonathon’s latest Sake and Single Malt (Scotch) blends.  The last time we were all gathered here in March - we were celebrating Nicole & Jonathan’s engagement.  To keep the trend going our Anne waltzed in the door amid squeals of delight as she sported what looked like the Hope diamond on her ring finger.  A very happy and “light in the wallet” Alec followed.  Nicole kindly lent us her sunglasses for those wishing to gaze at the dazzling rock.  Anne said she was looking forward to wearing it during practice as she can use it as a knuckle duster - as she said ‘from now on people are going to think twice about wandering over to my side of the lane’. 

The next NT party is “Solid Gold” on Dec 2nd .  Please see Erin for details.  Erin is also doin’ a hip dude thing - she’ll be grabbin’ yo food for the daily food bank.  Now, if you prefer not to “ruin your super groovin’ look” - wearing your super tight bell bottoms, ‘fro and gold chains - while lugging groceries, then just bring cash and Erin will cut a cheque on behalf of us all - man.

See ya’ll poolside or slinging Singapore slings at Erin’s Solid Gold groove thang.

November 3, 2006

The NT Roving Reporter 2006 Survey

The Results: # 2 of 2

 So here is the second instalment of the survey summary.  I really never thought it would be this much work to compile, with only 28 respondents the feedback was still profoundly profuse – thank you!  I apologize if a special nugget of information that you wanted everyone to know about was not included in these summaries.  Please point it out to me and I will endeavour to make mention of it in the next article.

OK, onto the last 5 questions:

6) Other activities our fellow NT members indulge in

 Wow quite an array of activities we do other than swimming…from Roman Chair spotting to golf boozing and all kinds of water sports – ahem – that would be the likes of kayaking and canoeing.  We have 8 Tri-athlete type swimmers.  Also, interestingly we have 8 who are of the ‘split’ personality Tri type…not loony enough to do put them all together but singularly mad enough to ‘enjoy’ them separately.  We have in our midst 2 Muay Thai aficionados – this apparently is a polite name for good old fashioned kick boxing (swimming and kick boxing might actually be a good combo – maybe at one practice we could combine the two of them? – perhaps a bathing suit optional hypoxic muay thai session in the deep end? – what about it Coach Doug?).   I do have to mention that we have one poor swimmer who had to give up water polo because his horse drowned….how sad.

7) Top 5 favourite events

 I structured the answer to this question so nonsensically that I really don’t know how to analyse it.  If you remember it was matrix and you were supposed to tick off your 5 favourite events ranging from 50s of each stroke to swimming across Lake Ontario etc.  Well some ticked off more than 5, others less - so the percentages are all messed up. To sum it up as best I can:  23/28 of you like 50s and 100s. 18 like 200s. 7-8 of you liked to swim 400 to 5k swims and 3 of you actually liked the whole idea of smearing animal fat all over your body, swimming vast distances in freezing cold water while breathing diesel fumes from your support boat.  So, bottom line – sprinters rule (or maybe sprinters like to fill out surveys - who knows?).

8) If you have a significant other, how supportive are they of your swimming pursuit?

 This was very encouraging…most of you have very supportive partners - even the chlorine smell does not get in the way of important ‘couple’ activities.  One respondent said that if they actually gave up swimming the relationship would be over (an NT Lifer perhaps?).  For those with no significant other, it is pretty well a given that the prospective partner must at least accept your addiction to chlorine.

9. What do you do other than swimming - work/school/ other "time filling" stuff? Hobbies?

 Survey said…Basically you are a hard working, well (?) educated bunch with lots of hobbies but very light on sex! 92.6% responded of you said that you work. For schooling; 60% responded ranging from a succinct “F*** No” to a few brain boxes finishing up post graduate work. Hobbies ranged from the onerous chore of drinking (v.common) to sleeping (almost as common) and surprisingly only one ‘sex’.  Apparently for this person sex comes after canoeing (?).

10. Favourite party theme/food/drink etc

 This question was requested by Erin as she is one who enjoys hosting some of our most infamous parties and she wanted some feedback. I must lay it all out for you here – I have consolidated it a bit – but I think the table speaks for itself. Imagine some of these parties. 

#1 sounds great: Conversation goes something like this….”hey man wow did you see that guy he’s wobbling falling over, I’m on my 10th Red Bull - can’t stop talking - great Powerbar - wanna do some Raw bacon with me, my left eye is doing an amazing twitch - check it out …Ok let’s play rock paper scissors again”

#15 is most intriguing ... go to the beach and shave down, drink unpronounceable booze … and eat pizza … après Saturday morning Summerville practice perhaps?

Perhaps some combination event would be good as well ... a toga / body painting session with  whipped cream / steak / sake / banana colada…

Bacon 24/28 YES!


Fav. Party Theme





Watching everyone else get drunk

Protein Bars

Red Bull



toga?! (2) Caligula


beer/ wine/ rum/ vodka/ scotch/ irish whisky/ martinis/ port/ anything else you can think of

is God reading this?


Body painting


To be determined

NO thank you


solid gold. that's all I'm gonna say.


Beer for boxer, wine for princess





Gold drinks need not include scotch. Barb S, no shots of scotch!!

Heck Yes! Sausage too.




Wine or beer



Academy Awards





Any whatsoever


Strongbow Cider or Red Wine





Scotch/Sake/All you can eat Beef

But of course.



guacamole & tortilla chips


So long as it's kosher


All you can eat



YES please!


dress up (3)

Cheese whipped cream

Cherry Coke wine(sauv blanc or Shiraz) Dark Rum & Coke, MGD

Back Bacon


I need no excuse nor theme to party (3)



DAMN RIGHT! Pork Fat Rules.


July 1

oscypek - it's kind of cheese produced only in Zakopane (a town in Polish Tatar mountains).

Anything that Chris' wife is serving - Those Sambuca shots were awesome.

Absolutely. More things should be wrapped in bacon (perhaps certain members of our team)


Beach/shaving party


sok z kiszonej kapusty - I don't know how to translate this.

yes, yes, yes


80s (2)

ice cream, or anything that has no nutritional value whatsoever - does whipping cream count? Actually no ... wouldn't want to get it confused with the shaving cream ... ... so let's go with BBQ and Ribs

Rum and Coke, banana coladas

Damn yeah!


pajama party


yes please ... Beer ... I am male after all

YES, but not with my beer



anything (are we swimmer's or what?)

wine, vodka





changes every weekend


 Anyway – That’s it.  Thank you all - 28 of you - for taking the time to fill the survey out.  If I do another one I will try and make it easier and faster to fill out.  Oh yes and speaking of filling things out…have you signed up / updated your meters for the Million Metre Challenge  yet?

The NT Roving Reporter 2006 Survey

The Results: # 1 of 2

October 19, 2006

 So now I have some 26 responses to the survey -  I guess since this is a totally subjective, unscientific, arbitrary and silly survey I can write whatever I want.  “Ah” - you - a discerning NT swimmer says, “you are the Roving Reporter – you must be balanced, unbiased and objective”.  OK OK - in a loud voice I say to you “I WILL TRY MY BEST” then under my breath I will mumble and grumble rude words about how “my Best” is really a load of claptrap.

 So below are the goods…this report will deal with the first 5 of the 10 questions of the survey, the next 5 in a future report – also I couldn’t resist some RR comments in there as well:

1)      Name you go by / swim name / no. of years at NT

 One of our new swimmers goes by the name Pontiac.  I like this name – not because I work for GM – of course not.  It is because Pontiac was a great leader and since this person swims in lane 2 - they need a good leader.  Having swum with Pontiac this summer at Summerville this person is definitely no Aztec - I’d say more of a Trans Am or GTO.  Other interesting names were: Chewy (a penchant for Eat More candy bars?), Long Jon (referring to his long strokes of course), Tug (…5 seconds is 5 seconds), Tooth Fairy (Exactly! who needs teeth to swim anyway, there’s money in them molars) and T bone (small t or BIG T?).

2)      Shaving?

There is a couple of laser surgery aficionados out there obviously aloof to this question.  A full 28% enjoys this activity (?!)  The open feedback was most compelling.  There was also reference to having multiple people involved in the shaving experience – you know the - I shave you - you shave me thing.  Somebody also said that they enjoyed shaving after a long weekend in the bush (I suppose they must enter the bush with no shaving kit or just that they forget to shave as they are having so much fun doing things that one does in the bush…fishing, hunting or perhaps collecting invertebrates).

3)      Age groups of NT:

Two things can be said about this graph below.

a.       It is representative of our team and yes we do have a disproportionate number of twenty somethings.  Therefore a message to other teams: “watch out” we are going to “kill” in this age group and walk away with all the medals. Or

b.      As we age we ignore surveys - that are e-mailed to us - until we retire.  Our lone 65-69 year response calls him/herself “elder!” (that’s right with the exclamation point) and is a photographer who likes breast stroke.  Hmmm I like photography too: snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, say no more say no more….

4)      Finding out about NT / Swim History / Best time never to do again

This is a toughie to summarize – who designed this survey anyway?  The survey received some wonderful responses.  There was a lot of input about the crazy website and Coach Doug’s infectious passion for swimming.   One person was sold when they witnessed NT behaviour at a meet! We were ‘young and fun’ (see graph above?).

Basically everyone with one exception, were swimmers of some kind or another in a previous life – age group, high school, uni.  This one exception had to get into it because of that irritating 50 minutes or so at the beginning of every Ironman.  Of note: another person was driven to it because his wife tried getting him into running marathons.

Lots of good fibs submitted for best times: 57.9 for 100 fly - yeah right, 18.22 for 1500 – pull the other one, 57.6 for 100 back – this from a guy who calls himself a car and never swam before he was 18…wow.

5)      Most Embarrassing swim related moments

 What a modest bunch - only 21 responses here.  OK let’s do them all… Hooking up with whatshername at some meet while drunk (is this embarrassment? doesn’t everyone try and do this?). Carted off on a spinal board at a meet (one can fake a spinal?) ALL the guys getting to wear her “tops” at an NT party (yeah it was great - I got the Lasenza one c/w the foam thingies). Upchucking OJ after a race (orange you glad you didn’t have the Irish stew). Showering naked (!) when a rather surprised member of the opposite sex walks in (you never explained what you did to him oops … or her…?). Thought they were 18 and in shape – actually 27 and out of shape (OK what is this -  I keep thinking this and I’m ahem 29).  Getting bombed with cold water filled swim caps while taking a sneak poop during a meet (wet toilet paper is such a drag -?-).  Gets embarrassed easily with little rest between sets (? - Guess breathing hard can be a little embarrassing - ?).  Displaced embarrassment – naked brother walks out onto pool deck (nudistic empathetic fraternicus syndrome?). Came onto pool deck (!) wearing knickers instead of swimsuit (frilly ones I hope)Wearing a guys see-through bathing suit (was it grey by chance?). Swimming fly (OK what’s new here?  Fly IS an embarrassment). Ottawa cougar bait (No worries - I’ll help lead the anti cougar diversionary tactics unit at the next meet). Completing a 50 free - naked - leaving bathing suit behind on the dive (and all that scraping along the bottom of the pool…yikes). Popping out a shoulder & smashing head doing back stroke then having “Mr. Hunk” pull you out (oh you poor frail damsel … I definitely smell a ruse here). Pulling an extreme Bill C: going from “swimmers take your marks” completely dressed to winning the 1500 m - diving in 200 seconds (3 minutes 20) late - only to be disqualified (this is just plain wrong). A man using a woman’s size 14 swim suit for an NT practice (dedication has no mores!). Being sent home early from a meet due to alcohol related illness (surely this is more of an accomplishment?). Relocating a shoulder during a 100 back (come on that’s an old one, it’s just an excuse to get the team chiros/physios all interested in prodding and rubbing you all over after the race).

The next 5 questions are to follow soon!


August 29, 2006

The End of Summer

The end of the Summerville season on August 30th is the start of the NT September break. This year it is a whole month.  So what is an avid NT swimmer supposed to do for one whole month?

 Well actually there is plenty to do.  To top off all that training you did over the summer season there is the St. Mary’s 5km Open Water swim Sept 10 http://soloswims.com/.  Every year a bunch of NT swimmers make the trek to the quarry - it is really more like a huge outdoor swimming pool – the temperature should be very agreeable and probably there will be very little in the way of ocean swell. The entry deadline has passed, if you missed it you are probably a sprinter anyway…

I’m sure there are plenty of other things to do as well.  NTers can brush up on their running and cycling (Our Sunday group should grow over the next few weeks), and enter the last few triathlons of the season:





Wasaga Beach


 For most of September many of us actually do nothing interspersed with thoughts about doing something.  The process kinda goes like this, “Right now I should go out for a run…mmmm …Oh wait there’s another Family Guy episode ..or 2”.  You know how it goes.  Anyway whatever you do have fun and we’ll all be on deck at the end of September for another season of wet, fast fun.

Million Metre Challenge

 Oh and by the way I just want to plug something that our 1.3 million meter long Coach Doug has been pushing and that is the Million Meter Challenge.  A few of us have been diligent in updating our meters after each workout on the website.  It is kinda fun so see how far we swim…So if we were to swim east from Toronto we would be swimming by the Thousand Islands – in the Kingston and Brockville area and it took us only 9 months.  Of course our Doug and current leader is frolicking with les phoques way out along the Gaspé coast with Wes close behind him. The other thing that I really like about the website is that it can track all your swim times which are linked to the actual meet results – guaranteeing that you will never forget that memorable Grand Piano Finale of a certain 100m free.  One can also track workouts in those 2 other irrelevant sports, running and cycling. Give it a whirl…it might even be a good motivator for you (as if you need more ….)

July 28, 2006 

What’s your best time for a 66 free?

 I have just returned from a family vacation, we went to the UK to visit my 2 brothers and France to eat some bread & cheese and drink some wine - oh yes there was Le Tour to watch and of course we wanted the experience of a Tour rider so we rented bikes and rode part of a stage and up Mont Ventoux.   Just to see what all the fuss was about.   And fuss they should:  the climb is ridiculously long - 21k - and ridiculously steep – averaging 7.5%, they should rename it Big Vanderby hill!  It took us 2.5 hours to climb up and 23 minutes to come down.

 But being a wannabe diligent NT swimmer and wanting to stay in some sort of swim semblance I thought it would be prudent to try and mix in a swim workout or two during the trip. Hopping onto Google.  I managed to find masters clubs close to both brothers: one in Yorkshire – the Halifax Swimming Club and the other in Sussex - the Chichester Cormorants (a Cormorant is some sort of seabird, that I suppose swims quite fast).  I sorted out when I wanted to swim and then e-mailed the respective coaches.  They responded with very welcoming invitations to swim with their teams. Needless to say I was due for these workouts.  I was on a steady diet of beer, penguins (a chocolate ‘biscuit’), ploughman’s lunches, fish and chips, spotted dick (with custard) and late night curries.  I felt very welcome with both teams and they put this particular ever expanding Canuck through his paces.

 The workout with the Cormorants proved quite interesting.  I arrived at 6:25 for a 6:30 a.m. swim half asleep.  I was directed to the unisex “change room”.  I had heard of them in Switzerland but never in stuffy old England.  I started to wake up in a hurry.  This should be interesting I thought.  I had exciting visions of naked women cavorting all around …actually I could go on describing what was going on in my naughty mind, but I won’t.  Alas it was not to be.  The room consisted of many cubicles with showers and benches and lots of signs telling us where to go and what to do and how to do it, very depressing. I ventured out onto the deck to a 33 metre pool - actually I kinda felt like Goldilocks finding the not too long / not too short pool.   I quite enjoyed swimming in it.  We did 33’s, 66’s and 133’s.  It was a nice change from the standard 25/50m pools. Obviously they cannot have official meets (or Galas as they call them in the UK) but they do host fun Galas. I found both these workouts added a unique dimension to the vacation; meeting fellow swimmers, seeing new pools and experiencing different clubs.  It was all good fun.

 So if you are going on vacation or just visiting a town and want to go for a swim, contact the relevant swimming association and/or Google to find a masters club close by and send them an e-mail, you never know what you will find!


June 27, 2006 

 My-o-my what a time was had at the annual NT 2006 team party…this year it was held at Katie’s house.  The weather more than co-operated – basically a perfect day.   40 – 50 people showed up determined and ready for a good time!

 Katie’s home was appropriately well equipped for swimmers.  Liquid was everywhere at various temperatures, states of motion and chlorine/alcohol levels.  For the chlorine kind: A beautiful waterfall gently roughening the surface of a curvaceous pool next to a hot and bubbly tub…matching the mood of the many that entered it.   And for the alcohols: A great big barrel ejecting very foamy cold organic beer courtesy of Coach Doug, some rather dubiously flavoured coolers and even a retro strong malt liquor Bradour made an appearance.  Later the arrival of Sambucca shots took the group to a different level helping to generate some rather interesting PG-rated antics.

 Katie and the organizing committee of Kathy, Erin, all the suppliers of food and BBQers did a fantastic job in helping to keep things on track and people fed with delicious nosh (appetizers, chicken, burgers, juicy hot dogs and mouth watering desserts).

 The awards presentation was a big hit and was lead off by Coach Doug. Coach Doug’s famous Taper Award was awarded to Patrick, cancer survivor extraordinaire who literally swam through the diagnosis of advanced Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December 2005 and all the subsequent chemotherapy treatments. It is an amazing story of strength, perseverance and positive determination all in the face of a really nasty disease.  Liz Glover took home the best new comer award(?) – For her first meet, she showed up at this year’s Ontario’s and blew everyone away in the 1500 Free.  The 5C – at the tender age of 43 - was awarded the Rookie award (isn’t Masters swimming great?!). This year an awards committee was struck so everyone would be receiving a certificate for a wide (in fact - extremely wide) variety of reasons. The committee was lead by Erin and Kathy who spent many fun filled hours meeting, e-mailing and brainstorming and came up with 5 pages of awards that 5C and Derek rifled through.  Luckily the lone underage 12 year old and the 2 new born swimmers in the group were completely baffled (and will hopefully remain so for many years) at some of the more risqué and obscure awards (the “DEW” and “DILF” among others). Later, MJ and Marc presented, to much amusement and delight, a Picture & Music montage of various members of the team. 

 Music was a constant theme throughout the evening; earlier Katie serenaded a group, effortlessly performing a Rachmaninoff type number on the grand piano. The evening ended with Brett and Derek strumming their newly learned 3 or 4 guitars chords and leading the group in rousing choruses of la la la and bedee bedee bedee (at this stage of the evening no body knew the words for any of the songs the lads attempted to play) - the non singers got to dance or they just played with each other’s swim suits.

A super time had by all!  Again, big thanks to Katie, Kathy and Erin and all the folks who put in so much time and effort to make this a party an afternoon and evening to remember!


May 31, 2006 

Last Sunday a good crowd of NT swimmers participated in the DSC pre-pride puddle “make a meet” at U of T. 

 I think the U of T pool is one of the best pools in Ontario.  I had not swum there in over 2 decades and coming back to it was a treat.  It’s nice and deep, quite wet, has good lighting and a nice ledge to rest your feet on after a race.

This meet was long course. When one is used to swimming short course - long course is a rude awakening!  Wow how rude it was.  In fact it was even longer, by about 1cm or so – there were no timing pads – as timing was all manual.  Bill and I were talking on Monday and we reckon my time was off by at least 3 seconds for the 100 free because of the extra distance swam – of course notwithstanding the fact that I swam the 2 lengths like it was a 50 and a Piano fell on me 22 meters from the end - muscles turned into porridge and my flailing arms became the consistency of overcooked noodles.

Ok as we are talking about Bill: here’s the scenario – picture yourself signing up for this swim meet. It’s long course.  You can pick what you want to swim when you want to swim it, hence the name “make-a-meet”: An ideal situation, right?  What would you pick?  mmmm, what about starting out with a 200 fly followed by 100 fly and ending it all with the 1500.  I really feel that a 400 IM in there would have rounded it off nicely but our Bill wimped out and just signed up for 3 of the most gruelling events. Bill is one serious swimmer!  He was trying to talk coach Doug into swimming the 1500 with a sales pitch like this “hey Doug just do your 800 and tack on a 700 as a warm down”.   You know I’m glad we have people like Bill on our team as he can swim all these great combinations and all we have to do is admire, cheer him on and talk about it afterwards.

As I said before we had a good turn out and our strongest contingent came from Lane 5 and 6 and they even entered a relay team (Sue, Susanna, Dave C and Eric) and tore up the pool.  All four swimmers and Kate put in strong performances for their individual events as well.  Leon and Harry swimming magnificently; like people half their age.  Faith was looking after one of our youngest fans Simone; who just stared at us all incredulously, probably thinking “man, these wet people are strange”

Our lane 4 swimmers were represented well.  Peter’s first meet with NT was a barnburner with a very respectable 1:05 for 100 free.  He said that he also met with the aforementioned piano 15 meters from the end – this piano is definitely a nasty business.  Suzy and Zuzanna taking the opposite approaches: Suzy, swimming all the distance stuff with very respectable times and Zuzanna – who hates turning and counting lengths was in her glory thrashing out 3 50s. Art came out of retirement (again), Matt and Cindy decided to swim everything at once at the beginning of the meet and swam a 100 free and 50 free almost back to back followed by 50 breast. A sure fire inducement to afternoon naps for both of them. Coach Doug, after pranging his knee a while ago was hopeful that after a warm up on a stationary bike he would be back doing his thing with the 50 breast.  Unfortunately it was not to be and our formidable breaststroker coach had to stick with the 200 and 800 free, he did however post very good times. 

All in all this was a very interesting and fun meet.  DSC did a super job organizing and making everyone feel welcome.  Hopefully it becomes a yearly event.

 Oh by the way, as we were splashing about in Toronto, our own Gord came in 13th overall in Ironman Brasil.  A Magnificent performance!



May 9, 2006  

A Legend in my own ‘Nasty’ mind.


As Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys would say – “I got 2 birds stoned at once” this past weekend. 

 Number 1 - My Mum is in rehab in Cornwall fixing up a broken femur.  Number 2 – The Cornwall Sea Lions Masters where hosting (for the first time) a rather unique swim meet called “Legends in our Own Mind” on Sunday.  So this is a good thing: Road trip to Cornwall with my son…visit Mum AND do a swim meet.  Actually in the process I got a 3rd bird stoned - I added seeing old High School friends, meeting new ones and rekindling some friendships with some of my age group swimming chums.

Cornwall if you don’t know, is located about 1 hour this side of Montreal and the meet was held at a brand new facility on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in a beautiful park setting, close to the city centre.   It really is a gorgeous spot. 

At first glance the meet itinerary looked fairly normal - 50’s and 100’s of each stroke and the longest event - a 200 I.M. also a few relays thrown in to spice things up. So a bog standard sprinters meet…all is very good - for sprinters.  Then I kept reading down the page and things started to get rather odd.  The “Nasty” was a most intriguing event.  It was basically a Pentathlon (a 50 of each stroke and a 100 IM) followed by a 1000m swim and a lovely 5 km ‘out and back’ run along a path by the St. Lawrence and the old canal. I asked about the 1000m swim (why not an “official” 800 or 1500) and the answer was “well why not – we are going to be a little different – we don’t want to appease either Tri-athlete or swimmer.  Also it’s a nice neat 1K swim - 40 lengths is a good round number as well.”  OK sounded good enough to me. About 55 swimmers / tri types took part in this inaugural meet.  Some for just the swimming bit, some for the duathlon (1K swim 5K run) and a few “out there” dudes (your Roving Reporter included) for the “Nasty”. I think there were only 5 signed up for the Nasty and nasty it was.  I managed to get the muscles all-a-twitter (swimming in lactic acid) with all the sprinting in the pentathlon…then tried to coax them into some sort of semblance for the 1k swim.  The 5K run was just plain old painful.  You can be assured your reporter represented NT well, proudly wearing his bronze bathing cap, his favourite ‘Breast is Best’ T-Shirt and not moaning too much (however I did moan quite a bit after the run) and as it turned out I actually was the fastest Nastiest. 

The meet started at 8:30 a.m. and was finished by noon, fine grub was laid on and we all seemed to have a good time!  Many Eastern Ontario Masters clubs competed at the meet, among them: TIMS, Nepean, Ottawa, Stittsville, Gefilte Fish (!), and Brockville

 Nasty and Coach Mum

 Steve Bacher, the meet organizer wants to make this a yearly thing.  I know Cornwall is a bit of a hike from Toronto - but maybe next year we can take a car load or 2 of NTers down to beautiful Cornwall for a Nasty Road Trip?

April 24, 2006  

 So I was all gung ho about writing an article about our Big Swim for Arthritis on Saturday.  Then it dawned on me that I forgot my camera to the event, hence no pictures.  I am now reduced to writing and not relying on pictures to illustrate the event.  Silly me.  Oh well.

 We had a good turnout of about 30-40 swimmers to do the various Swims: 1500, 2500, 5000m and the relay 5K.  We had 5-6 volunteers who helped us with registration and counted / timed our swims. Caitlin expertly coached us.  Not a very scintillating job for her.  For any kind of swimmer interaction she had to v. briefly chat with the relay swimmers…but they had precious little time as they were on a furious pace times. On one relay team (Katie, Jonathon, Matt, Brett) each swimmer was doing 25X50 all out on basically 2 (+/-) minutes. For those of us who did the 1.5, 2.5 and 5 K swims – Cailtin used her valuable extra sensory perception skills to urge us on….whenever we stopped to adjust goggles, whine and grumble she’d come over, give us a big smile and encourage us on.  Thanks Caitlin. 

Also big thanks for the organizers and volunteers who helped to make it a fun swim for a really good cause.  Apparently we made just over $1000. Check the bigswim.ca website to see our times, they should be posted soon…

April 8, 2006  

 As Coach Doug has already indicated the Provincial championships were a roaring success for North Toronto in and out of the pool. I’ll try and take you through some highs and lows of the weekend. I apologise in advance of the length of this epistle but come on, what else do you have to do for the next few minutes! 

 The first low was the notorious traffic.  For those who left Toronto at 1:30 or before it was a ~1 hour trip.  For those who left after – over a 3 hour trip…ugh. Some missed the warm ups and had to resort to entertaining other drivers by steering with the knees doing “air freestyle” while barrelling down the QEW at 9 km/hr.

 So to the meet: Friday afternoon and evening saw some brilliant swims.  200 back, 50 fly, the 800 where Coach Doug set a new provincial record and the big grand daddy of them all the 1500.  3rd Chris G., Suzy, big Mike and “no warm up” Keith all swam with seemingly languid grace.  Note to counters: please ensure that you always display the first length of these distance events…some swimmers have found that that even after the trauma of the dive and the subsequent realization that they are in fact going to swim an awfully long way they actually forget how many lengths they have done/not done, so please always remind the swimmer that it is in fact only their 1st length. 

Your roving reporter (definitely not known for his counting acumen) has been requesting a counter for the 50 free for the whole year for exactly this reason. So far he has been fortunate in keeping track, but there will be a time I’m sure when he will complete a 50 with a flip turn.

 So after the Friday splash about we all set off back to the hotel.  After Lasagne for some and giant meat balls for others, a bunch of swimmers settled into an evening of light frivolity in Coach Doug’s room.  “Fridays without borders” was the theme.  Michael B had the best seat in the house with his posse of lane 4 girls smothering him – I think he was in hypoxia training or something, very entertaining.  There were many visitors; Suzy, Christina, Kathy, Iona and Leslie and Bill made a lightening quick visit just to say hello.

The next morning caffeine was the first order of the day and no problem finding it - a Tim’s literally at every turn before starting the gruelling Saturday swim schedule. And gruelling it was. 

 To begin: - how about doing the most difficult non sprint / non distance event – the screwy 200 free.  Well we had a couple of really exciting heats.  For the men – my son - the 4th Chris B and Bill C. duked it out side by each in a super struggle of sort a old vs. a bit older.  Chris out-touching Bill C by 3 100’s .  This heat was followed by the big guns of NT.  Jonathon, Coach Doug, Brett, 3rd Chris G. filling up half of the pool, with a very exciting race.  Jonathan won by brilliantly executing his intellectually deviant strategy - swimming 25 hard, 25 med X 4. Pulling away then slacking, pulling and slacking… a true rubber band race.

 Definitely the highlight of the day was the record set by our technically perfect swimmer/coach: Our Janet leading off the 4X100 free women’s relay set the individual world record for 100 free, a sizzling 57.35 - Fantastic!

 A very successful day for NT. Now if I may interject here with a little whine (of course we were in Wine country) - I have one bone to pick about the weekend and that was with the schedule: Why was THE most popular event – the 100 free - one of the last swims in the day – even after all those relays?  Everyone (except Zuzana) were truly conked out to swim anything near their best time.  I suppose we were all in the same boat – but really - 18-20 heats should tell the meet organizers that this is a biggie and people would like to be relatively ‘fresh’ for it. 

 Plenty of us did rubbish swims.  Even a Congo can of Red Bull did nothing to improve my already pathetic time for this event.  But hey, nuff whining - better things were in the offering.  The evening was young. Back at the hotel a few attempted to nap…others experimented with new drinks.  Coach Doug invented a wonderful new elixir - Red Bull and Shiraz.  Yum yum - a few swigs of this and off we all went, wobbling and jittery to the wine tasting, dinner/dance social.

 The competition organizers came through in spades with the social at the “Cat’s Caboose”.  A wine tasting which thankfully for some only lasted until 7:30 and food everywhere.  NT and some of their groupies took to the mosh pit after the band came on.  “Back in the day” - early ‘80s - cover tunes got us all hopping, bouncing and in my case slamming onto stage speakers - ouch.  The aging bassist had a really good Robert Smith (from the band The Cure) look, long black hair (thinning), pasty white skin complete with black nail polish and black eye makeup.  A special dance award should go to Zuzana for her pogo / arms flailing thing.

 A few minutes later - a look at a watch and lo! it was nigh on 1:30 or 2:30 a.m. (with the damn time change).  We all spilled out looking for cabs.  The hero of the evening was our Eric.  Janet was being taken “away” by 6 burly guys – she shouts “my boyfriend is over there - the guy in orange”, pointing at a v. surprised Eric, “ he’d really be upset if you take me away”.  Eric looks over - as Janet runs into his arms - he was rewarded with a big smooch (just to prove to the burlies he was Janet’s boyfriend).  After Eric’s heroic save, some of us found cabs and others were lucky enough to hitch a ride back to the hotel.

 At this point I will conclude the evening’s events.  I’m sure everyone went to bed and had a good zzzz - as I did.

 The next morning NT arrived at the pool to a nasty surprise - The Granite Club had taken over our bleachers and had actually nailed up their rather chic grey granite T shirt as a sign of their occupation – the nerve!.  Unperturbed and with charm offensive full on; the NT crew moved on in.  Despite some rather awkward initial moments (we recognized that some of the Granites were our groupies from the night before…) we all got along swimmingly.

 The morning started with the silly one - 200 fly.  This is Bill C’s sage description of the fly: “the fly is easy, you only have to work 25% of the time, the rest is just doing nothing - gliding.”  So according to Bill, 200 fly is just a 50 and the rest is just gliding…?  Sounds so easy and it’s a guaranteed medal! Hey Yah Bill, we’re all in next time for sure (?!).

 Around lunch we were treated to another doozy of a race, the mixed free relay, 4 x 100 free.  The NT Elders; Janet, Katie, Coach Doug and Derek (160+) in lane 7 next to the young NT Pups; Dougie, Caitlin, Kristen and Brett (80+) in lane 8 – great for us spectators! The fashionista award has to go to Elders all matching in blue fastskins - very slick. But here’s the thing, I’m watching this exciting race and the Elders pull way ahead of the Pups.  However, the end result was that both teams set new provincial records for their respective age groups. The Pups could only watch in awe as the Elders triumphantly exited the pool... I guess that’s one of the wonders of Masters swimming – you could look at this and conclude that as you get older you get faster(?).

 For individual swims, Sunday was Suzy and Bill C’s day.  Our diminutively powerful Suzy was the designated closer for the 4X100 women’s free relay, and close she did!  Burlington had a commanding lead of 4 body lengths (and that would not be a Suzy body length).  MJ leans over to Suzy and says, “you gotta knock off at least 2.5 seconds off your 100 free so we can win this puppy.”  Suzy, usually a 1:08 for a 100 free, zoomed past the Burlington anchor as if she were treading water and finished with a phenomenal 1:05 winning the heat handily.  This victory helped NT beat out Burlington in the point standings.  Super Swim Suzy!

 Of course Bill C raced the 200 fly at the start and then ended the day with the 400 free using a very unique (soon to be patented?) running start.  Yup our Bill was oblivious to all those whistles and the whole pre-start ritual - standing on a block bending over, staying still with your bum sticking way up in the air.  He was doing his own little pre wiggle muscle / wind mill / warm up stretch routine and once he heard the beep he donned his goggles, ran from the deck leaping/diving into the water.  He finished very respectably under 5 minutes.  Could this become a new NT competitive advantage? We’d definitely have the refs running for the rule books on this one!

 All in all a super weekend was had by all.  Can we raise the bar on our next outing? I think so, but it will be tough.


March 21, 2006  

 Peace has broken out between lane 1 and 2.  It was announced at Breakfast on Saturday that Lane 1 Swimmer - Jonathon and Lane 2 swimmer - Nicole have intentions to tie the knot.  Simmering tensions between all lanes were immediately put aside as people hugged, shook hands and smiled at one another more than usual.


Lane 1, widely considered the fastest lane in the club enjoys extra width (um… that would be ‘lane width’) and a built-in ladder.  Lane 2 however, has always maintained that it deserves the extra room due to the fact that their arms start flailing half way through practice - trying to keep up with the Lane 1’s blistering pace. They also claim they need the fancy ladder to exit quickly for a widdle, in-between sets. This has been an unresolved issue for quite a few days now.

Lane 3, known as the ‘aloof’ lane carries on as if really nothing else is going on - seemingly oblivious to all.  They also consider themselves to be the hippest lane.  Swimmers in lane 3 may strike up idle banter with lane 2 and 4 but they really like just doing their own thing.

Lane 4 swims along with allusions (delusions?) of grandeur, trying to maintain pace times that far exceed their ability. They happily resort to cheating, often caught walking half the length, pulling on lane ropes (á la NTMSC wannabe Wes) making u-turns and knocking off the odd ‘50’ just to keep up.  They also think they have the best looking swim suits (?).

Lane 5 swimmers are a happy bunch but only when conversing with lane 6.  Lane 4 swimmers are Lane 5 swimmer’s anathema.  This probably has to do with Lane 5’s innate sense of fair play and their view that Lane 4 are a bunch of wannabe show-offs. Any exchange with a Lane 4 swimmer usually involves a lot of pointing and grimacing; a conversation will typically end with a “yeaaaaaah right, as if”. 

Swimmers in Lane 6 are the anchor of the club, a stable, cheerful, rock solid bunch that live for the ‘masters’ creed (fun, fitness, friendship & participation).  Both Lane 5 and 6 also manage to get quite a number of ribbons at meets – out performing many other lanes (mainly because they actually show up for meets!).

The Nicole / Jonathon engagement on Friday night, the subsequent breakfast and as it turned out “the engagement party” held at Jonathon and Nicole’s apartment on Saturday evening was proof that things are looking up and that tensions between all lanes really didn’t exist in the first place.

Regardless, with this super news and just in time for the Provincials, it seems NT is ready to swim great lengths…

Here are some pics from last Saturday’s at Nicole and Jonathon’s NT party:

February  21, 2006  

 One thing I have really quite enjoyed since joining this swim team is the weekly brunch ritual.  Each Saturday after a gruelling morning workout we make the trek / drive(!) 1 block to Yitz’s.  Anyone who has not yet joined us should come along.  The topics of conversation are always wide ranging, from discussing various forms of workout to the latest Brazilian exploits.  No stone is left unturned.  It’s a basic free-for-all with wild connotations and tangents on themes definitely encouraged.

Each week Yitz’s usually sees 10 to 30 tired, loopy, jumpy swimmers walk through the door.

We have had many honoured guests join us over the past 6 months: A revered coach from a far away club in North York regularly comes along (Deep down he wants to be a NT Member), an executive member of the MSO from Ottawa and even a swimmer from Israel has checked us out.

Our waitress: Gabriela, always resplendent with smiles, large cups of water and coffee looks after us extremely well. She is the epitome of professional and courteous service.

Some popular swimmer menu choices …

  • French toast for those who like to get served first - fast sugar first 
  • Lox ‘n eggs for swimmers who think that eating smoked fish will make them smokin’ hot in the pool (?)
  • Mushroom omelette –for the fungi eaters
  • Feta cheese and tomato omelette – the pick of the trendy chic
  • Knish – Jewish meat pie thingy - delicious with gravy but just don’t ask what it’s made from.
  • Warm cinnamon bun – mmm nice bun

Being a Jewish deli, bacon and sausage are naturally absent from the menu but they substitute with salami, not quite the same but heck - they apparently make delicious door handles.

So for those of you who have nothing better to do after practice – and I can’t imagine what that could be – come on out and join us.

January 28, 2006  

 So Coach Doug has brought politics into the swim practices.

Did you know that Canada has recently voted in a swimmer friendly Prime Minister?

He recognizes that a girl’s favourite sport is swimming - who knew?  This explains the perpetual presence of the average NT male swimmer at practice, kinda like bees to honey or would that be strawberry nectar…

Stephan Harper – Swimmer?

Anyway, our Stephen Harper wants to introduce tax breaks for kid’s sports activities.  http://www.conservative.ca/EN/2023/37386 Hurray for Mr. Harper! Lets get more kids into swimming! Perhaps Mr. Harper could carry this tax break forward to adult sport activities..... The first beer after workout is tax free!

January 23, 2006  

 So I’ve been appointed a ‘roving’ reporter for the NTMSC.  I must say I am honored and a little humbled by this acclamation.  To officially kick things off, I thought I would do a simple (and some would say very simple) story about myself.

First things first though, before anything, let’s set the tone for my new role:  Bribing, kickbacks and any ‘scheme’ is all fair game.  You want something written about something or someone - I’m your man - for a price: and let’s just say I’m not averse to receiving ‘unique’ goods and specialty services in lieu of mounds of filthy lucre…

Ok so now that’s out of the way, onto the rest of it.  My history with the team is probably a fairly typical story:  I swam as a sprog, then quit to work as a lifeguard (Ha Ha - me - saving a life - Ha Ha: this is a whole other article, maybe).  I then pursued a budding career pushing buggies at Dominion which ended abruptly (another story).  Right, so after High School I joined up with the Ryerson Dolphins.  This is before they became the rather pointlessly named “Rams” – and have  you ever seen a Ram swim? I don’t think it’s a pretty sight …or come to think of it, what’s with a swimming Mustang, Gryphon, Marauder (after a good marauding session they would have a celebratory splash in the nearby river/lake/sea perhaps?) or a Gael (The Celts actually swam?, heaven forbid - their kilts would get wet)  OK now - What, pray tell, is a Blue or a Crimson and how does it swim?  These University A.A. People can be very silly… I’m sorry, I’m digressing…

I joined the Dolphins for no other reason than to spend at least some time away from the campus pub.  The pool and pub (appropriately named “The Filling Station”) were conveniently located almost next to each other.  To make the situation even better, the pub bouncer was also on the swim team - the whole setup approached a sort of Kurt Cobaineless Nirvana.

Speaking of Nirvana it was at this point Doug came into my life.  He was training with U of T (imagine that!) and he swam for Ryerson as he was a student there.  At relay events his U of T buddies would joke, ‘Watch out! here comes “Doug and the Slugs”’ which was also the name of a popular Vancouver rock band of the early 80’s. 

Our Forever Young Doug – a Ryerson Dolphin - and the slugs at a swim meet at McMaster circa 1983

So my claim to fame is that I was one of the slugs on Doug’s relay team. Also my other notable claim to fame is that I warmed up behind Alex Baumann at the OUAA’s in 1983  yup - your roving reporter swam through the bubbles created by the soon-to-be double gold medalist Olympian - Gosh, pretty impressive eh?!

After Rye High I considered swimming to be boring – come on admit it, it IS  boring - labouriously following a double ended T on the bottom of a pool - up and down, up and down with that repetitive swooshing of water, gulping for air and then blowing out bubbles.  An absolutely loopy pastime don’t you think?  So for 20 years it was cycling and running to keep me from going cuckoo.  After a knee injury running, I found myself testing the waters again with the Scarborough Masters last February and then with you lot at the Summerville pool last summer. 

Needless to say I found swimming on a team not quite as boring as I remembered.  I’d forgotten all the other bits that go with it, the feeling of collective fellowship, i.e. the collective groan after the main set is announced, the collective near death experience after a tough set and the (very rare) collective bonked* out silence at brunch following a Saturday workout. 

Needless to say it has been a super ride so far with you guys.  I have decided that my Summerville experience deserves to have its own article…so until next time - toodle pip.


5th Chris

* um…you might be aware that bonk has a double meaning, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Bonking


January 16, 2006  

The 5th Chris Reports:

 Thanks to Erin's wonderful planning the NT dinner Karaoke thing on Saturday went swimmingly well.
Dinner at the Fewy Dog was most delicious in more ways than one. I thought I was luckier than Billy M. sitting down with 5 absolutely
gorgeous women - he only had 3 stunningly beautiful creatures at his table. Then who joins my table to spoil my Ménage a six? Yup, who else but our Michael B. Our radiant Katie thankfully arrived as well - offsetting the testosterone build up a bit. Next, Big Mike M. really threw us all for a loop by arriving late to the table, he just joined us for dinner as he was on baby duty that evening. We all had a delightful meal with much frivolity and gay banter.
Next we all traipsed over to the Galdstone. There were 2 cars that drove us over: A wicked narly sexy Saturn Coupé driven by a really hot fast lane 1 swimmer and a grey sedan apparently of Germanic ancestry driven by a colleague of mine in lane 4 (although sometimes he likes to show off and swim in lane 3)... unfortunately Barbara and I ended up in the German contraption. Still we were very grateful for the ride (Thank you Bill - erm.. have you ever considered GM?). We arrived without any air bag deployment and primed to sing.
We were ushered to our tables at the back of the bar and we quickly got down to the business of picking songs. Many others from the team joined us (25 or so?). Some even had to wait outside to get in(!).
This is where my recollection of the evening starts to unravel. I remember a group of really hot NT singers singing (they put the Spice Girls to shame) a song followed by our very engaged, budding dentists (with nice teeth) belting something out that resembled a song. Mariah Carey or was that Jen sang a wonderful song about something I'm sure was really important (I just don't remember what it was). This was followed up by Barbara and I screeching "What I like about you..." There may have been other outstanding NT performances, but like I've said my cognitive abilities were severely handicapped by a) that bloody morning workout and b) the consumption of copious amount of beer. So I apologize if I've left any performances out.
Things really went down hill fast when Jonathan looked at me and said, "we simply have to sing Rick Astley", to which I angrily responded "RICK ASTLEY AAAAGH! UUUGH NO WAY" and then promptly wrote the code # down for Astley's horrendous one hit wonder. Michael B, Jonathon, Marc and I absolutely butchered the song. Most of it was grunts and hmmm hmmm's until we got to the chorus ... never
gonna give you up, never gonna make you cry, never gonna come and round and dessert(?) you...
It was brutal.
At least the Gladstone was very happy as the crowd rushed to the bar wanting something to help drown out the noise.  People where running into the washrooms and perimeter of the room was taken up with people banging their heads against the wall. It was nasty nasty. Funny - following this "display" - the host did not get to any more of our song requests...hmmm
Still it was a wonderful evening and a big Thank You goes to Erin for
organizing it.
By the way - Happy Birthday Marc....
5th Chris