Back to Colorado Springs: Swimming with the Masters at The Olympic Training Center



4 am this morning, I hopped out of bed, rolled as quietly as I could off my sister’s air mattress to not disturb Courtney or the Girls, and headed over to the Olympic Training Center to swim!


There’s something special about this pool. It’s a place where so many great swimmers have trained that I think it’s in the water – maybe their filtered sweat but that grosses me out. It’s light, and even though I normally don’t like training meters, this morning I felt alive in the water. The group of Masters Swimmers that I joined in with was pretty good too. They had a few people faster than me and quite a few a little slower. Which, if I’m honest, is how I like it.

I swam with the same group a couple years back when I was about 55 lbs heavier than I am now, but I couldn’t remember if anybody was the same, and at that time they were at CC’s campus just a few blocks a way (another nice pool). The team then and now was broken up by speed, but that time I was in the 5th lane down (the 5th slowest, which is no insult among this group of swimmers). This time I was in the second slowest or the second group down, and I was holding my own.

I swam in Lane 4. Which always feels like my lane, despite being years separated from my high school lane assignment and not the middle lane in this pool as it was back in the Village Pool in Georgetown, Tx.

This was my second time in the building, the first was three years ago when I toured the campus of the Training Center and watch the wounded warriors swim magnificently. I really didn’t think I would get a chance to splash around in the hallowed grounds here then or on this trip, but I checked on line and found out that the masters group I swam with two years ago had a few practices over at the OTC, and I asked and got to swim this morning.


I tried to snap a few pictures of the Olympic flags, but it didn’t come out well. As pools go, it is not much for spectators. The changing facilities are a bit small, but that makes sense because only small groups of athletes are ever in here at one time. It is much shallower than I thought it would be at 7ft on the sides and a little deeper in the middle. The water quality and air quality were superb from my vantage point.

Fina puts out that the standard water temperature for swimming should be between 75 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Most pools not only ignore this guideline even during swim meets but also during practices. The OTC is kept between 78-80, which is ideal for training. Ideal competition temperature is 77. If you are a pool director, please stop letting the noodle ladies dictate the temperature while endangering lap swimmers. I’m tired of jumping in pools confused into thinking they are bath tubs at 85-89 degrees.

Olympic pools are 25 yards by 50 meters, and this pool fits the paradigm nicely. I have encountered numerous people that confuse competition length with Olympic size. A pool is competition distance as long as it is close to 25 yards or 25 meters from there there are conversion ratios. In high school going to a meter pool was always a moment of dread. It’s just enough difference between meters and yards that you can feel it as you swim.

The long course (50) meters took their tole, I’m definitely not used to swimming that far with out a flip turn. However, the tiredness gave way to a good rhythm and I finished out the 4 k work out with out a problem despite being at altitude and with a fast group of swimmers. I’m headed back to swim with them again as soon as I get a chance!

After climbing out and getting changed I went to one of the great vistas of Pikes Peak at the OTC right by the mess hall just past 7 am. What a way to start off your day!



About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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