Day in the Life: Marcia Benjamin, Day 1

OAKLAND, California, May 15. IN the latest "A Day in the Life" series on, we welcome Bay Area Masters swimmer Marcia Benjamin to the DITL family.

Marcia is a Physical Education instructor at Laney College in Oakland, Calif. She has earned the Dorothy Donnelly Award for Service from USMS and has won a national championship at that level.

We are always looking for volunteers in our "A Day in the Life" series. If you would like to participate, please contact Jason Marsteller to volunteer.

Monday, May 14, 2007: Day 1
Am I the only person to write a blog for SwimInfo who didn't even have the sense to go swimming today? We've heard from international competitors, university athletes and maniacal Masters on the verge of their championships. Some are in the midst of exams, traveling on business, or struggling with injuries but still gamely pressing on. I must fill some sort of "slacker" quota. Well, I hate to brag, but I have a little left in the bank from my taper of July, 1988, so I think I'm okay missing today.

Actually I had an open water race in San Mateo, California on Saturday morning and then yesterday went down to my local club, warmed up, and swam a 500 butterfly to officially become a "Butternut" as my way of celebrating Mother's Day. Apparently, some people go out to brunch. My husband and 10-year-old thought it was really cool, though.

My early training as an age-grouper about a million years ago encouraged us to specialize early. Butterfly and I never seemed to click. My daughter now regularly does workouts where the main set is done four times – once with each stroke.

So my New Year's resolution for 2007 was to accomplish a decent butterfly. Decent to me means figuring out how to survive it for more than 50 yards and having more than one speed. After doing 10 x 25 for about a month I figured out how to hold water in the front end of my stroke. Then I made it mandatory to kick exactly four times off each wall in a tight underwater streamline. After that it was just going farther and farther every few days: 5 x 50, 8 x 50, 10 x 50, 6 x 75, 5 x 100, 3 x 150, 2 x 200, 2 x 250.

It may have looked impressively steady to my lightly-fit colleagues at the club, but dang it was slow. It was kind of like a fifth-grade band concert I recently attended. Imagine a barely-recognizable American folk song being squeaked out by 35 clarinets, 40 flutes, assorted brass (including my daughter, who sounded just wonderful!) and two guys in percussion – one guy on the bass drum (BOOM) and the other on the snare (WHACK). Basically, I just boomed and whacked my way back and forth for 20 laps.

And now that I've become a Butternut, I vow to train religiously after my humiliating fourth-place finish in the mile swim, but not today because apparently it is some sort of Sabbath for Open Water swimmers. There is absolutely nothing worse than walking out of the water and seeing two people you had crushed last year chatting with friends and nearly dry. I felt like I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Hello! Are these Darwin finches? Is the finish line around here anywhere? It just didn't feel like I ever got into a groove. Worse yet, I was taking my first step to collect my third-place award, when they announced the name of someone I'd never even heard of.

This Saturday, I'm out for revenge. It should be even easier when we have an Open Water swim on the same weekend as Masters Nationals in Oregon, which first-place Girl and second-place Girl will be attending. As for third-place Girl, enjoy your brief moment in the sun.

Searching for a cute sign-off,
Marcia Benjamin