This will be similar to a Christmas advent calendar, but I'll list OW swims I'd love to take part in or products that I would love to find under the tree.
As I've mentioned before, I'm a self-coached swimmer. And as I've learned a long time ago, I'm not good at it. When I was a self-coached lifter, I never really got very strong. (Although, in my coach-self's defense, I did get good at pull-ups.) When I was a self-coached runner, I got really fast (for me) at one mile (5:30-ish). Unfortunately, I always raced 10Ks. As a self-coached triathlete, I never did very well, although I always finished.
I'm getting a bit better at it now. The self-coaching part. But I'd still rather have a knowledgable person, strong on swimming science, up there on the deck yelling at me. Since becoming a masters swimmer in late 2002, I've had a total of 3 years of coaching. Not much when it comes down to it. But those years were good.
Back in 1997, I swam the Navy PT test when I was stationed in Denver. (I tried to do everyone's PT test there, but never got to do the Marines' test, unfortunately.) At the time, I was an occassional swimmer, doing that and running. At my fastest, I swam the Navy's 500 yard test in 9:33. I was 30 years old.
Fast forward years ahead to 2005. I was finishing up about a year of swimming with the Alexandria (VA) Aquatic Recreation Group, at Chinquapin Recreation Center, under the able tutelage of Frank Shafroth. I went at least 3 days a week and got beat up every time. In May (or so) of 2005, we ran a swimming charity for the victims of the tsunami Thailand. Turned out that Frank, who used to be in the Peace Corps, knew how to get a village there a new fishing boat. It would cost. We got donations. We got enough to buy the village two fishing boats.
The point, however, that is germane to this story, is that I swam 100m SCM in 1:27.40. I was 38. Since then, no coaching (except a wonderful few days with the Fort Bragg Masters earlier this year). I might be able to hit that same time in the 100m. I might not. I need coaching.
So today, may I recommend every OW swimmer join a masters club? Find one near you with hours that work for you. Go at least twice a week. Get expert instruction on your stroke. Learn (if you haven't already) the other three strokes (yes, it'll help your swimming). Meet other swimmers. Meet the coaches. Let them see a real-live marathon swimmer (if they haven't already). But don't be a jerk, right Evan?