by Karla Rees
I was excited Tuesday headed to NJ. Problems occurred upon arriving in Newark at 7:30pm, the AirTrain to get to the rental car shuttles had, stopped running for over 30 minutes. After finally getting there, I jumped on the first Ramada shuttle to my rental car, but I took the wrong one. The driver was nice enough to drop me off on the way back from Jersey City, but he got lost on the way, it was 9:30 when I picked up my car. Getting lost in Newark didn't help and after I figured out the Turnpike was I-95, I drove to Piscataway and got a smoking room, yay fun day.
Wednesday: The shuttle bus was lost with the construction; he dropped us off at the back and the swimmers walked around. On the way back we rode the extra 1.5-mile detour around campus from the pool. I decided I'd drive the car to the rest of the meet. My 1500 was the same time as the year before, I felt that it was an "okay" swim with the temperature and humidity. Later, I drove back to the airport to pick up Mark; it was a lot easier a second time in daylight.
I watched Mark walk pass security with not a bag on him. Mark seems to trust the baggage handlers and trusts that his suit, goggles, cap and camcorder would follow. Both his bags did show up and we headed back to the hotel. Mark also got a smoking room, but we switched later.
Thursday a good day, all happy with their 100 breast, Mark dropping 2 seconds from Santa Cruz, and our other traveling companion from Piedmont, Leianne (UNAT) dropped 3.5 seconds. Perhaps when she wears goggles and stops looking around she'll drop another 4. Of course you must understand she wears glasses so she said she couldn't see anyways. The lights did flicker a little during the east coast blackout, but power stayed on for the whole meet.
Friday both Mark and Leianne got PR's in their 50 fly. I tried to keep up with Phyllis Quinn in the IM, big mistake, but the good news is I now have a new PR in the 100 fly. My event later suffered from the 400IM stupidity, but a scratch supplied me with the bronze medal.
Saturday: Leianne dropped over 2 seconds in the 50 breast, just missing National Champion status by .24. 2nd place! Mark ripped his suit that morning, so he slapped down the plastic for a new one Size: small, unaccustomed to a smaller "long one", Mark's 50 breast was a tad slower than Santa Cruz, but he still placed in the event. His 100 free later was especially exciting, he was seeded 26th to start. I watched his race through a 2.5 inch screen, he went out fast breaking 30 and less than half a body length from the lead swimmer. Holding his breath as much as possible Mark reeled in the competition and tied the heat winner with a 1:01.53, dropping 2 secs from last year and placed 18th overall. Woohoo! Next year a 59!
Sunday morning I was alone, people slept late, so nobody to record my swim. I was hoping to break 6:00. I was seeded 13th AKA: last. All checked-in and I'd have beat 3 others to place 10th.
Breathing on my right, I couldn't see until the first turn from Lane 2. Three were over a body length ahead another nowhere in sight. Halfway down the second lap lane 3 stopped the 6-beat kick and I finally was able to keep up. Lap 3 can't see. Lap 4 I caught lane 3 just before the turn. Lap 5 can't see. Lap 6, I was keeping up with 1-2-3 all four of us were even, thinking to myself, if I beat all three I can get 10th. At the turn I caught another swimmer with two laps to go. Lap 7, cant see, I hoped I could maintain the same speed as lanes 3,4 & 6. Noise started in the background, the spectators noticed the battle for 10th place! At turn 7, lane 4 was no longer a threat, lane 6 still ahead, lane 3 closing in. I increased my turnover, but lane 3 was still gaining, I ignored lane 6, hopefully I'd catch up. Lane 3 was my concern. At the flags I held my breath for the last 7 strokes to the wall. I looked at the scoreboard, my time 5:55.07 2nd in the heat, I touched them both out, barely and guaranteed my 10th place medal. I got out the water to look at the board again, just to make sure, but the next heat took off and the boards cleared with times 7 new times starting in the heat. Seven? I looked at the pool, YEP, one No Show. I got 9th place! This race was by far the hardest medal earned at any Nationals.
Leianne and Mark arrived an hour later, happy to hear about my swim. Mark swam his 50 free later that day in a 26.69 a little off from Santa Cruz, but happy that he has a new range, unfortunately it was just .03 out of 10th. But I kindly reminded him, that he already fulfilled his points quota the day before giving MVM 3 points, one more than the year before. Plus he had 3 PR's. Me too, including my split time. Leianne 6 for 6. Lookout when she gets goggles. I also should add she raced against gold medal Olympian Shane Gould and beat her in the 100 free, but I won't say what stroke Shane was swimming.
At 2:30 Mark and I headed to Newark, I convinced him to do some sightseeing the day before. Our destination: The Statue of Liberty. We checked in to the airport hotel, got directions, freshened up, grabbed our camcorders and made it Liberty National Park easily. This hour of the day it was bright, sunny, not too hot, some bigger clouds off in the distance. "Not even going to rain." I stated to Mark. After we arrived we looked for ferry tickets, 5 minutes too late, the last call was made at 4:30 for the Liberty ferry.
On the way back we saw that the ticket booth was still open, so I inquired
about other tourist opportunities, turns out the Circle Line Ferry departed
an hour later around Ellis, Liberty, and Manhattan Islands, Mark a little
hesitant I coaxed him into the 70 minute ferry ride.
We scouted for food with no luck, when it started getting cloudier. Then in the background thunder started along with some drizzle. "Not going to rain, huh, Karla?" I asked the ticket guy if the ferry still operated in rainy weather, he said, not unless it's a real bad storm, Mark inquired if it was covered ferry, and thankfully it was. We killed more time looking at souvenirs and came across some Emergency Ponchos, "Hey Mark, define emergency." Not yet, Karla." Marks tummy still grumbling, "are you sure you want to do this?" You, bet I already paid the 10 bucks.
We had 15 minutes left when it started to downpour cats and dogs, ughh, I forgot to tell you we are wearing shorts and we can see lightning. Mark and I pay the $3 for the ponchos. We peel apart the cheap plastic, mine yellow, his red (more like pink salmon after unfolded). Mark was disgusted he'd paid for something that didn't cover half his thighs. I was covered head to ankle, ahh the benefits of the vertically challenged. The Ferry arrived and we run in drenching big drop rain, to the dock. Yeah, he got wet some. I was laughing so hard I could hardly move, Mark mad that I jinxed us again and minute later the rain ceased. But good news a snack bar on board! The tour started we listened to the monotonous-bass voiced tour guide for the next hour. A very fun trip we got to see NY, The Green Lady and other sites that I can't remember the name of.
For dinner, we drove to Jersey City, after about two minutes in the area, we checked if the doors were locked and got outta that grimy, bad, bad area and went back to Liberty National Park, to eat at the upscale restaurant overlooking the NY skyline. People were dressed nice, but Mark noticed they had other tourist "refugees" from the rain earlier.
We finished dinner around 8:15pm and headed back to the hotel. It only took 20 minutes to get to the Park, but it took alot longer to get back. Mark and I experienced the intricacies of the Newark roadway system, we weren't lost, we just couldn't turn around for 5 miles, or make left turns, or find the correct on ramp, when we knew the hotel was less than a mile away, think of 5 on/off ramps in every half mile every mile. Take my advice, do what Mark did let some other idiot drive. I eventually got us back, but the clock said 9:30. Then the room, my TV was so old it didn't have a remote, and the toilet was something you'd see in public restrooms. Trying not to think about it, I went to bed knowing I'd have to catch my 6:00AM flight.
At 2:52, my wake up call rang. I made it to the airport by 3:45 a little ahead of schedule when I noticed my flight didn't leave til 6:30. Doahhh! Then I looked at departures, new flight time 7:57am that would make me miss my connecting flight by 30 minutes. I got in line quickly and they found me the last seat on the next San Jose flight. Mark showed up before I boarded; we exchanged hotel horror stories and wished each other safe travels home. Next year Savannah!