5K Postal Swim – some background

As my former Sharks teammates know, I attempted the USMS 5K Postal Championship (5,000 long-course meters for time, in your home pool, between 5/15 and 9/15) back on June 27, two days before my wife and I moved from Columbus to Chicago. For various reasons, it didn’t work out too well. Both mentally and physically, I just didn’t have it that day. I was distracted and anxious about the move; I had been packing and lifting boxes all week;  and for whatever reason (self-sabotage, probably), I thought it’d be good idea to do a “warm-up set” of 5×1000 LCM the day before.

In any case, I ended up with a 1:07:32 that day (pace of 1:21.0 per 100m) – not altogether terrible, but I knew I had a better swim in me. I had been debating letting the time stand, as it will probably place well in my age group anyway. But something else forced my hand: Somehow, during the move, I had lost the split sheet! (You’re required to submit your 100m splits to verify the swim.)

Now I had to do it again. I finally got that chance yesterday evening, at the UIC Natatorium. My goal was to break 1:06:40 (exactly a 1:20/100m pace). I figured, given the paces I had been holding at my open-water swims this summer, that I had a fairly decent chance. Just 4 weeks ago, I held 1:19.5’s (for 1:06:14) in a 5K open-water, wearing a legskin, at 4900′ elevation.

There are, of course, differences between open-water swims and pool-based postal swims, that can complicate the comparison:

  • there are turns in postal swims, but not in open water (favors the postal swims)
  • open-water swims are sometimes imprecisely measured – e.g., Big Shoulders 2009 was most likely short; Madison last weekend was most likely long
  • open water can involve currents, chop, and imprecise navigation (favors the postal swims)
  • you can wear tech suits in open water, but not in the postal swims (favors open water)
  • open water usually involves racing, or at least social facilitation, while postal swims are usually a lonely, solo effort (favors open water)

In the next post, I’ll reveal what happened. Stay tuned.

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