Competing at the national level

Allison Lehman

Allison Lehman

Allison Lehman

In July I competed in the Senior National Games in Minneapolis, Minnesota; my first exposure in a national swim meet.

My husband, Liam Flynn suggested going. We were traveling north and east on a road trip. He would be doing most of the driving.

I qualified by swimming in a prior swim meet in February 2014 in four events and two bonus events for a total of six events spread over three days.

We started on our road trip two and a half weeks prior to the swim meet. Head coach, Doug Springer here at Saddlebrooke, suggested finding pools along the way to practice. Hotels, community and one college pool which was exceptional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Upon checking in at the Minneapolis Convention Center, I received my welcome packet, credential ID, a booklet listing competitors, their events and where they were from. Turns out my high school history teacher, who was the varsity baseball coach, was there too! While I did not get to see him, I did contact him via Facebook. Next the University of Minnesota pool, a big indoor facility, seating for 2500 spectators.

That night I thought, just don’t disqualify (DQ). Swim your best. I did not want to be last in my events. I didn’t know the level of competition. A gut feeling, I might be in over my head, literally and physically. Ignorance is bliss? Well, I’m here now.

Day one I walked into the swimmers’ area thinking I’m representing myself and Saddlebrooke female swimmer in the 55-59 age group. What have I done? Most women were in the latest technical suits. Here I am in an off the rack suit. Mark Spitz and I have something in common. He bought his winning Olympic suit off the rack, too. Many of these women have been swimming competitively since birth. Okay, maybe since their teens.

My husband sat in the spectator’s area recording my events on his iPhone. I saw my dive, stroke, turns and finish in the 200 freestyle and 50 backstroke. In both events I placed 10th with honorable mentions. I was tickled pink. My nerves calmed down.

Day two 200 breaststroke and 200 backstroke, taking fifth and eighth place respectively. Whaoo! I stood on a podium, heard my name announced, collected my first two ribbons. I tell you, almost like the Olympics.

Day three 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle. Another holy cow moment taking sixth and fourth respectively, collecting two ribbons.

It was a fast pool and indoors. Fast meaning a deep pool, no water back splash off the wall. Indoors meant concentrating on chin up in backstroke. Not worrying about zigzagging or hitting the lane line. I focused on the ceiling, reaching way back.

I was pleased with my results; five events I beat my seed time. The sixth event was a second slower. Not so bad in my book for someone who has only been swimming competitively for two years.