Join us in welcoming Vicky Miller to the MySwimPro Ambassador team! Based in San Rafael, Costa Rica, Vicky enjoys both pool and open water swimming. In this guest blog post, Vicky shares her swimming story, and how MySwimPro is helping her reach her goals in the 200 free, 400 free, 200 back and 200 IM!
My name is Vicky, and I am a retired nurse midwife. My husband and I live in the mountains north of San Jose, Costa Rica at 6,200 feet above sea level.
We have 4 dogs: 3 Great Danes and 1 very spoiled Golden Retriever. I also have 3 daughters and 2 grandsons who live in the U.S. I spend my summers in Sausalito, California with my daughter. While I am there, I swim with the North Bay Aquatics Masters Team. Go Tuna! I also enjoy swimming in the San Francisco Bay.
I am one of 4 “old lady” masters swimmers on the Milenio Masters Swim Team in Escazu, Costa Rica. I compete in national and international Masters meets, along with local open water events here.
My Swimming Story
I can’t remember when I couldn’t swim. As a child, my mother and grandmother would drop us at the pool while they played golf. I remember spending hours and hours at the pool and loving it.
When I was a young adolescent we moved to Massachusetts and I started summer league swim team. Year round clubs were not readily available at the time. I spent my summers at Lake Winthrop, where we had swim practice in the lake between 2 rafts. I learned to water ski and took a Red Cross Lifesaving class, too.
Jump ahead to my mid-thirties, when my oldest daughter became an avid swimmer. After dropping her at the pool for early morning practice I would drive across town to the other pool for Masters swim practice. I also dabbled in Masters synchro.
Related: Swimming Through Motherhood
When I moved to Costa Rica, I started swimming and using the gym at the Colegio de Medicos. I saw a poster for an open water event and decided to train for it. The editor of “Outdoor Swimmer,” Simon Griffiths, was offering a free training plan for a 1500m open water race, so I downloaded it and started swimming 3 times a week.
I competed in several open water events that year (2016) and at every event I would go from tent to tent asking folks which team they trained with. Finally I found a team in my area and I joined immediately! I competed in my first swim meet in October 2016.
Swimming has been amazing for my health as I age. It helps me maintain my weight and manage my asthma.
I started swimming Masters back in the bad old days when we swam with our heads elevated, a thumb entry and an S curve pull. After about 5 years I started having a lot of shoulder pain and in spite of therapy I was never really able to swim on a regular basis.
In 2016, my shoulder pain got out of control. After a long year of therapy, surgery for a labral tear, 6 months of rehab and no swimming, I regained full range of motion and strength in that arm. I am now meticulous about technique and am cautious with paddles because I want to keep swimming for many more years!
My Swimming Goals
I am a middle distance swimmer so I am looking to get faster in the 200 backstroke, 400 freestyle and 200 freestyle. As always, I am trying to improve both my speed and my technique. In short course meets I swim the 100IM, but my butterfly is still not strong enough for the 200IM — that is another goal!
I also plan to compete in all of the open water swims that I can this year. I am planning to do the 5k across Culebra Bay in Papagayo this November. It will be the first time I have swum it since my shoulder surgery! Next year I would like to go for a 10k event and possibly swim the width of Lake Tahoe. If the Panamericano Masters Meet In Colombia happens in 2021, I will most likely participate.
Before the pandemic hit I trained for 90 minutes 5 days a week with my team. Right now I can only train 4 days a week for 75 minutes because of Coronavirus restrictions. Even though it’s not my usual routine, I am so happy to be back in the water!
How I Use MySwimPro
I swim with a coach so I use MySwimPro on my Apple Watch to record my workouts and review my splits, heart rate and weekly meters on my phone afterward. I have logged more than 244 workouts — and almost 600,000 meters — in the app!
Right now I am working on my pacing for 200 free and 400 free, and the analytics in the app give me amazing feedback to help me track my progress. Knowing that I can review my stats later helps me stay present mentally during practice!
I am a devoted Whiteboard Wednesday fan and watch all of the technique videos in the app, too.
My Tips for New Swimmers
- Don’t Get Discouraged During Breaks: The first 2 weeks starting or after a break are the hardest – stick with it!
- Focus on Technique: For Masters swimmers of any age, the most improvement comes from refining technique, unless you have swum all of your life!
- Prioritize Injury Prevention: Good technique also prevents injuries, so don’t skimp on drills and other technique work! Make sure you take recovery days and get enough sleep, too.
- Get a Swim Parka: Trust me, you will be happy to have it!