A Day in the Life: Laura Smith, Day 2

DENVILLE, New Jersey, February 21. IN the second entry in her "A Day in the Life" series on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, New Jersey Masters swimmer Laura Smith writes about a day off from training spent on other obligations.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007, Day 2
I have to be honest with everyone reading today's column. My submission is not going to be particularly exciting. In fact, I am not going to swim at all today. I am sure that this fact makes everyone again really wonder what Swimming World Magazine was thinking when selecting me, but the fact that I am not swimming today (while in a taper…and at this point, I am using the word "taper" very loosely) illustrates a basic component of USMS swimming: we have lives outside of the pool.

There are a few reasons why I am not swimming today, and it all comes down to commitments and schedules. My husband and I alternate mornings that we can attend the gym/pool. So, I typically claim the 5:30 a.m. workout time on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and he takes Tuesday and Thursday. We both workout on Saturday and Sunday, and use our YMCA's babysitting services for our children. Since today is Tuesday, my husband went to the gym (he is not a swimmer) for his workout, and I get the kids ready for school. I would love to claim every morning for my swimming workouts, as there's a part of me that thinks that my preparation for a meet trumps his preparation for the spring golf season, but it's all about compromises between two old married folks.

After dropping my son off at school and my daughter at a President's Day "vacation day camp program" (my son is 4 and attends pre-school, my daughter is 7 and in second grade), I went into work. I work at a large global pharmaceutical company in Northern N.J., where I am the director of operations in their meeting and event division. I manage a team of 10 full-time employees and 2 part-time contractors. We manage all of the hotel contracting and small meeting planning services for the company's U.S.-based business meetings (and there are a lot of meetings – more than 750 in 2006).

I have been working in the meeting and event planning industry for more than 15 years, and I have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. as part of my career. I don't travel as much as I used to, but I did have many years of trying to swim laps around a hotel's "Olympic-sized" kidney shaped pool. Could there be a more over-used and inaccurate description than "Olympic-sized swimming pool"? It is truly amazing how creative I have been when on the road for my workouts.

At 5 p.m., my entire team is being picked up and brought into New York City for dinner. A hotel supplier that we use extensively for our meetings is taking us to a hip and popular steak restaurant in the Time Warner Building. I'll probably return to N.J. around 9:30 p.m. this evening. Believe me, I am not whining (well, actually, I guess I am). A limo is about to bring me into NYC for an incredible dinner at a four-star restaurant (on someone else's credit card!). Dinners and events like this are fairly common in my field, although the novelty of big fancy dinners wears off after a while. I could have easily turned down this event in light of my "taper", but it's important to my team and the supplier that I attend.

I knew, when accepting the invitation, that I would not swim today. Skipping a day totally in a taper would have been unheard of for me in my college and "elite" USMS days. I would have adjusted everything to accommodate a swim. But, my husband deserves his usual morning workout. I needed to work a full day, filled with very stressful meetings and an overdue project looming over my head. I needed to nurture and recognize my business relationship with a faithful and patient supplier, and I really enjoy spending time with my employees.

So, to bring today's column back to my claim of being "typical" that I made yesterday, typical USMS swimmers skip days – sometimes a lot of them – in our training plan. We have families, work, careers, children, aging parents, other hobbies, and lots of commitments to honor. I didn't skip many days in my collegiate career. But, such is the beauty of Masters swimming. I essentially "skipped" the last seven years, and I can come back in and enjoy the camaraderie and fun of a Masters meet. I have an incredibly blessed life filled with daily challenges and variety, and although I desperately want to swim fast on Sunday, I need to prioritize these challenges. And, really, my shoulder still hurts like crazy, so the rest won't kill me.

Keep Swimming,

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