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Yeah…me again. So if you’re tired reading my diary entries you should stop right away.

Because I started this entry a long time ago and never really came to an end and so it got a bit long. Ever since I started to write after my last visit in February, I started to feed this entry with all the stuff (interesting or not) that came to my mind.

Yes, I assume, I sort of “abuse” the platform I’m given, but maybe you like it? And if not, STOP reading further.

Ok, let me start with a quote I found by chance and couldn’t stop thinking about for a long time. The truth of it lies as much in the words as in the metaphor that it produced for me.

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
-Vidal Sassoon, hairstylist Read more

Still Trying to Catch the Green Flash

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Good times – really bad summer weather in Switzerland brought me “back home” to Islamorada. Enjoy some sun and outside swimming, that’s exactly what I needed to start my winter season. Another good reason for me to come back of course is that I still need to catch the Green flash.

Green flashes are “rare” optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible for a short period of time above the sun, or a green ray shoots up from the sunset point. It is usually observed from a low altitude where there is an unobstructed view of the horizon, such as on the ocean (so Islamorada in the Florida Keys should be a perfect place to catch it). Its explanation lies in refraction of light in the atmosphere and is enhanced by atmospheric inversions. Whilst we would expect to see a blue light, the blue is dispersed (this is why the sky is blue) and only the green light remains visible. With slight magnification, a green rim on the top limb of the solar disk can be seen on most clear-day sunsets. However, the flash or ray effects require a stronger layering of the atmosphere and a mirage which serves to magnify the green for a fraction of a second to a couple of seconds. And I was told that it is a good thing to see the green flash. Can’t say if it’s true or not, but I really would love to see a Green flash once. Read more

Swimming with Dolphins in Islamorada

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It’s amazing how, given a little bit of inspiration, we’re able to conquer fears. I personally have a fear of sharks (probably shared by many). That fear is heightened when I find myself in murky waters where I can’t see what’s happening below me. It’s a fairly sensible fear mostly, except that I sometimes have irrational visions of JAWS chasing me down!

Today, I was absolutely blessed with an amazing experience that helped me at least momentarily overcome my shark phobia. Me, John Carter (my team-mate from Sydney University who is training with me in Florida) and our friend Dewey were out on the speed boat cruising with the wind in our hair. John called out that he’d spotted wild dolphins in the murky waters of the Gulf we were crossing over. Read more

Jorge & Yolanda Caragol Masters Invitational

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The best way to get your body used to swimming fast is to race. For this reason, Saturday morning in Islamorada is race day. Warm-up and then get ready to swim fast. Even better than to race in workouts is to race in meets.

Somehow in the first part of your preparation cycle, the most important point is not always to swim your personal best but to get the effect of fast swimming. After two weeks of hard work in a camp, I was really happy to join the local Masters swimmer Tanya Hanson for the meet in Lauderhill.

We left Islamorada early on this Saturday morning to be on time for the warm-up. After a bit more than an hour and a half we arrived at the pool. The weather was not perfect on this Saturday morning with a chilly breeze. But nobody cared about it and I started to feel the meet atmosphere coming up to my body. At least for me, this is something very important. I can swim fast in workouts, but never do it the same way as in meets. Something that probably can be seen as a weakness (personally, I think it’s a point where I still can improve, but on the other hand I also think that it is one of my strengths). Read more

What Keeps You Swimming?

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For this diary entry I got inspired by the message board on the Race Club website. In these last days there have been some very interesting posts like “The art of Taper” or “The sprinter mentality.” And some great personal experiences have been shared.

I now start my 12th year in swimming (so still a rookie). And probably, like most of you, I have had moments of doubt where I was close to quitting. Times where I worked so hard for success and earned so little. But hey, I already knew that because one of my coaches once told me, “Listen, swimming is hard work and most of the time it pays badly (literally). But when it pays back for all the hard work that had been done, it will be a lifetime experience.”

And he was right. Every time I reached my goals I forgot about the struggle before and was filled with happiness. Although this is not the point of the story. I mean, why didn’t I stop in times where struggle and not success had affected my swim? Sometimes I had to wait 2 years to come back. How could I know that I would succeed again? What was it that kept me swimming? Read more

A Swimmer’s Experience at Camp Race Club

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Hey All,

I am just getting ready to go to bed but I have to write this to you because I feel like a stronger athlete, both mentally and physically. I can’t believe what a difference 2 days at the “Race Camp” made.

Starting out as a gymnast from age 4-13, I new I would always compete in some sort of sport. Volleyball, cross country, track and softball; that was my life until a softball injury caused my ACL to rip in half. Of course, trying to prove to Dr. Ellison in Key Largo that I knew best, I started competing in Triathalons. That was in 1999, now once again I am training for the Key West Mini-Tri in March and thought I might need some help. Read more

All the Way to 2006!

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It’s been a long time since I last wrote a diary entry. When I first started to write about what happened with me and my swim on the Short Course National last December I was always getting so badly excited in front of my notebook that I stopped only thinking about it. The only thing a wanted was to forget about it and never talk about this experience anymore.

I needed to get some distance before I was able to write something that can be published on the Race Club website. And that’s the reason why it took me so long to share with you what I think all of you have a right to know. It just wouldn’t be fair to write such positive things about the Race Club and their training methods. I was asking myself how I would feel if someone was saying to me that they went through the best training program on earth and didn’t beat anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Now laying on the couch in the Race Club house and seeing the sun for the first time again after a long period of cold and grey weather in Switzerland, I think I found a way to finish what once started with so much anger. Read more

From Islamorada back to Switzerland

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Although I would have loved to stay longer, Friday, October 28, was the day I had to leave Islamorada, the Race Club and my new friends. My flight back to Switzerland was on a wonderful sunny and warm afternoon only one week after Wilma. By the time my plane took off, I knew that at home the winter season was about to begin and the “shorts and T-shirt” season was over for me. After 8 hours of flight time, our plane approached Zurich Unique Airport. It was so foggy that you could see absolutely nothing and I could only feel that the plane had landed.

But let me start a bit earlier and tell you something about my last day in Islamorada with the Race Club. My last day in Islamorada was a bit different from “the business as usual” day of which you have perhaps already read about in one of my former diary entries. Besides, you should also know that almost every day in Islamorada is different from the next, even if there are some (nice) habits. Read more

Thank You TRC for Pimpin’ My Swim

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My time here in Islamorada is almost over. At the time I am writing this diary entry, there are only a few more days left and then I have to go back to Switzerland (in the winter!). I feel very much “at home” here and I know I will miss everybody and everything!

But before I leave, I want to tell you about the Race Club and how it makes me feel. I found a good way to explain how it might be when you may come to Islamorada for one of the Fantasy Camps. You may or you may not know the TV show “Pimp My Ride.” So let me give you a short introduction to this TV show.

“Pimp My Ride” is a show originally shown on MTV. The concept is simple – they take a car which is old, thought to be unfashionable, falling apart, or some combination thereof and WWC (West Coast Custom) “pimp” it. Read more

Islamorada with Michelle Engelsman

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Not a long time ago I was sitting on the couch and Michelle came through the door. During the 3 weeks Michelle spent here in Islamorada, things really got started!

If you have followed my diary entries so far, you already know a lot of things Michelle and I were doing together here in Islamorada. But yes, it was all about fun. Swimming with the dolphins, fishing with Mangrove Mike, going out on the boat to snorkel or watch the sunset. But that’s only one side of our Race Club life; don’t think that all days had been relaxed like these. We also did a lot of serious work!

So let me take you through a “typical” workout day. All started at 9 a.m. at the pool with the morning water session. This first workout took about 1.5 hours. And after this, there were several ways to continue our day. Depending on what we planned to do in the afternoon, the morning session was followed by core work (abs and stuff like this and boxing) or we went straight ahead to the next step which was breakfast at Mangrove Mike’s (also very important!). Our “business as usual” breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes for Michelle and the country wrap with grits for me. Read more