One-Hour Postal National Championship

competition-poolUnited States Masters Swimming holds ten National Long Distance Championships each year. The competition includes open water and postal events as follows:

  • One mile (quarter-mile straightaway or open water course)
  • Quarter-mile straightaway (2 miles)
  • Open water (greater than 1 and less than or equal to 3 miles)
  • Open water (greater than 3 and less than 6 miles)
  • Open water (greater than or equal to 6 miles)
  • Postal 1 hour
  • Postal 5 and 10 kilometer (in 50-meter pool)
  • Postal 3000 and 6000 yard (in a 25-yard pool)

Today, I swam the Postal 1 hour.  This is the second year I’ve done it, and here’s why I do it:
1.  The swim must be completed in the month of January.  That’s a great time to get a barometer of where I am with my swim conditioning.
2.  I can do this swim in my local pool.  No travel required.
3.  It’s only $6 to enter.  Cheap is good.
4.  It’s one of the only real ways of knowing if I’m improving.  Tri swims are all different distances in varying conditions, so it can be hard to tell through the course of a season if I’m making improvements.
5.  I don’t do many swim-only events throughout the year.  This is really just another swim workout in my local pool, but I pay for it, fill out a form, and my results get posted, so I think of it as a real race.
6.  It gets my head in the game in the pre-season.  It’s been four months since my last tri.
7.  It’s the only time I’ll ever see my name in a national ranking, even if I need to scroll through pages and pages of results to find my name.

Last year I swam 3,418 yards.  This year I posted 3,582 yards, a 5% improvement.  I think I could have done better, but as my coach pointed out today, I was in the pool a little more at this time last year.  If I were in the pool three days a week consistently, I know I could have been faster. 

I was really pleased when my wife (who took my 50-meter splits) told me I swam every single lap in 54 – 56 seconds.  Again, not fast, but consistent.  And I managed to swim a PR, so I’ll take the result with a boost of confidence as I head into longer workouts and the tri season.

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