Illinois State Swim Meet

I feel like a Mack Truck hit me this morning.  GOOD thing, because that means I swam my hardest this weekend.  I look forward to this weekend all year.  For some reason, I always want to play in the individual sports while being a Triathlete.  I do bike TTs & races, do running races and swim meets.  It is a little aggressive that I want to be a single sport athlete, but I surely try hard!

The ILMSA Swim Meet is awesome.  Our team works really, really hard all year to peak and race well here.  It consists of the 1650 over two days and then the rest of the events all day and into 7pm at night both Saturday & Sunday.  Over 1700 athletes compete.  By the time I got home last night – after 7:30pm, I was a MESS.  And, eating for an event like this is interesting too.  By Sunday night I just wanted ANYTHING green.

In addition, I have become very good friends with my lane mates and we just have SO much fun.  We swim in Lane 8…and all of us are girls, except Chris.  This year, we “let” Chris swim with us & we enjoyed having him around.  All of these girls swam in college except me (and Gina, I believe) – so it is a bit humbling, but I try to be a “real” swimmer when I show up!

On the docket for me this meet was:

1650 Thursday night

Weekend:  50 F, 100 F, 200 F, 500 F,  50 Fly, 100 IM, 200 IM, 400 IM & 4 relays (all 50 Free).

Phew.  That is A LOT of warming up, cooling down, in and out of the pool and absolutely max efforts.  I have worked this year very hard at my starts.  When I was a kid, we learned to start with 2 feet on the edge of the blocks….well, that is REALLY old school & I just never really changed.  But, I knew – I had to.  So, with the help of my lane mates, I went to the track start – WAY faster and that helped me a ton in the shorter events, where starts and turns really make the race.

The meet started with my 1650 and this is my FAVORITE event.  I rested hard for it and did not want ONE excuse not to perform my best.  No point for me to go to the State Swim meet – especially since I have not been beaten at this event – TIRED.  So, I was ready to go.

Ironically, my biggest competition in the 1650 is my lane mate, Krista.  Krista is exactly my age and oh, so nice.  I wish she was not nice, it would make things easier! LOL — Anyway, she just started with our team 3 years ago and has gradually gotten stronger (after not swimming since college!)….she has been slowly inching closer and closer to me and last year actually beat me last year in the 1000 F and 500 F (by 1 second) and I out-touched her in the 200F…so it is a healthy and fun competition.  And, honestly, it makes me a better swimmer.  Anyway, she was on fire at this meet & beat me in the 1650 by 20″ or so — and there was NOTHING I could do – I gave it my all.   I swam 5 seconds faster than I did 2 years ago (last time they had the 1650 at State), so, overall, it was all good.

Besides the 1650, I actually PRd (adult PRs) in all my events.  I even dropped 2 seconds off my 100 IM time.  For anyone who has never done a Masters Meet – 2 seconds in a 100 is MASSIVE, so I was happy with that!  To keep getting better & faster – with something I work so hard at and LOVE (and being 42) — is a very good thing!

I am not one to post times — but sometimes I will:  I will say my 1650 time was 20:34 (1:14 pace), my 100 Free was 1:02, my 500 Free was (6:01, 1:12 pace- this is my nemesis, I want to break 6 SO bad), 400 IM was 5:52… 50 Free time is slow at 29.1…200 Free was 2:15…..etc…I placed in the Top 3 in all of my events except (let’s be honest here, I suck at the 50s) the 50 Free and 50 Fly.  I was 5th in the 50 Free.

The hardest event of the weekend?  200 Free, by far.  We all agree it is the hardest because it is an all out sprint and that is a long time to be maxed out in the pool.  By the time I was on the 125 of that 200, I was in full blown lactate and was closing my eyes and gritting my teeth to survive.

The excitement of the weekend made me want to quit Triathlon and work on my swimming.  My breaststroke is HORRIFIC….my fly is getting way better but Andrea Block (state record holder in the fly) pulled me aside after my 400 IM and helped with some pointers on my fly….so, I am constantly learning & I love that.  I am already excited for next year’s State meet- it is a lot of hard work and long hours in that pool, but THIS is what it is all about – being passionate about something so much and seeing your hard work prevail.

Next up for me is a big week of Triathlon training.  In fact, I have to run long later today and that could be ugly!   THEN, I am doing the 1650 at Nationals next Thursday night.  I am so excited about it. Cheryl Stine from Indy is going to count for me and I am traveling with my lane mate, Krista to IUPUI.  We are ranked #1-#2 in the Nation for this event (hey, you have to be in it to win it…*my quote of the weekend*) and I am fired up to swim it again with her.  I am also swimming the 400 IM and 200 Free.  Wish I could stay and swim the 500 Free, but it is on Mother’s Day and (it is my mom’s birthday too) – so I need to be home.

And, thanks to my friends:  Stacie, Mia, Karen, Jaynie & Emily who I traveled with all weekend – up before 5am on Sunday, home late AND they even had to deal with me who drank coffee before Sunday’s 400 IM.  (first time all year)…AND Jen Harrison caffeinated is not always a good thing.  So, thanks girls…we had fun (and great swimming!!).

Someone asked me if I am tired of swimming  yet?  My answer?  Never!


  1. Awesome awesome job. You always inspire me!

  2. Loved reading about your swim meet. That is a heck of a lot of events Jen!!! When I’m done with triathlon I totally want to become a swimmer. Nevermind the fact that I’m no good at it! HA! Anyway, great job and best of luck at Nationals!

  3. CONGRATS on your meet!! I am in the same boat, the better the competition the better athlete you can be. BTW, I think the only way I could somewhat enjoy swimming is if I had short, straight hair. Instead, every time I swim I get dreadlocks and it’s just a pain (literally) when I get out of the water. Swimming is not for curly haired girls.

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Post JHC Camp!

Today is the first day since Camp that I feel like myself!  JHC Camp went great this year.  Almost, dare I say, one of the best?  We had 16 campers this year and put them all up in condos around our place and I really LIKED it.  I was able to rotate between all the condos to socialize, talk and catch up with each camper.  That was always harder with everyone in a large house.

The weather was AWESOME.  The athletes were GREAT.  Really, besides a few minor issues with people’s DI2 shifting (no fun), everyone was safe and worked really hard.  I was grateful to Jen Lynn & Diane who organized and helped me with SAG support at Gates Pass & Mt. Lemmon!  What a nice treat in the middle of the desert for sure.

Even Jimmy Riccetello joined us on our climb up Lemmon.  Nice to have Jimmy around in Tucson when we are down there – Thanks Jimmy!

Our days were spent training — bike rides every day, swimming at U of A (hotties), running trails and even very technical ones at Sabino and of course, good food (DQ…..uh oh) & good company.  We all got the work done and left thoroughly exhausted.  Perfect!

Here is the group at the Welcome Dinner the first night – The Calm Before the Storm:

Here is a picture of me coaching on deck  — Ah!!!

And,  I LOVE this picture.  This is Michaela via Hong Kong via New York to Camp.  She is holding a Salsa container that had her daily coffee in it!

And, our last night’s dinner wrap up:

The best thing about Camp is seeing everyone work so hard.  Seeing them push their own personal limits and really dig deep and find out what they are truly made of!  I love that part of a big camp block.

I know there were some tears.  I know there were some swear words, but I think they were few and far between versus the joy, challenges and finding out how tough you really are.  I think Mia gave me the finger and told me to “f*ck off” at least 12 times a day and even her TP updates were the same.

I had one camper at Camp ask me if I ever cry.  She said, “Do you EVER cry Jen?”

I said NO.  Of course that is a lie.  (I just do not cry at camp in front of athletes).

BUT, I have my moments…

In fact, I got home from Camp last Tuesday and on Wednesday USMS listed their Seed placings for Masters Nationals and I just thought I’d pop onto their site and see what I was seeded at.  Basically, they list the swimmers in each event and each age group fastest to slowest.  It is like a ranking system.

I was hoping to be ranked in the TOP 10 in my AG in the 1650. That would be awesome.  My goal at Nationals was to JUST place in the TOP 10.

I open up the website and there it is:  1st in my AG in the 1650.

I was sick to my stomach.  I was shaking.  In fact, I handled the whole thing horribly & like a baby.  I could not focus the rest of the day.  Went to Masters that night and everyone was talking about the seed placements and I felt sick.  Then, we had to do a timed 1650.   The combination of pure exhaustion from camp and travel AND then the anxiety from the ranking/seeding…I was crying in my goggles during the 1650.

In fact, I swam so poorly, I had to SIT out a 50 and re-group.  I never do that.  Ever.  Then, I could not breathe.  The air was too thick, the water too hot…I was having a mini anxiety attack and it was over NOTHING!

So, yes, of course I cry.  I just do it in private behind my goggles when no one can see me. :)

And, of course, I got over myself and the 1650 the next day…but damn if that was not a true meltdown.

I think everyone has returned to feeling normal this week post Camp and Jerome and I have already been planning next year’s Camp (s)!  It is a great way to kick off Triathlon season, especially when the weather has been downright awful in the Midwest this spring.  I was begging to go back to Tucson today!


  1. You earned those 1st place ranking tears!!! :) Love it. I know you cry, but I know it has to be over something good. Congrats on another awesome camp. When the kiddo is old enough, I am going to wheedle my way into a JHC camp in Tucson. xo

  2. I don’t really get that seeding stress. Do you think if you don’t finish #1 you failed, and everybody else will think so??

    I would *if possible* throw that crap out of your mind, and do what you know how to do. swim. You have done it 1000 times before.

    You will try your best right?? Okay then. piece of cake.

  3. SHIT, that doesn’t mean go eat a piece of cake. it is just a figure of speech.

    I gotta keep my eye on you. 😉

  4. Camp sounds like an awesome experience for your athletes :) I ALWAYS hated when the heat sheets came out growing up; nothing worse than seeing yourself ranked higher than you expected. . BUT you’ll do awesome! Best of luck!

  5. I think Tom Hanks said
    ‘There is no crying in swimming!’
    ok, he said baseball in A League of their Own. But you crack me up. In Indy there will be only smiles and fast swimming, and an awesome cheerleader and lap counter. See you soon :-)

  6. You’re a good egg Jen Harrison. JEALOUS of those that got to attend camp but it’s evident YOU and the suffer seekers had a blast. <3!

  7. Ha! Now try saying you aren’t a real swimmer!

    Glad camp went so well!

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