I stopped by my college town of Thousand Oaks to swim and visit my college swim coach, Tom Dodd. I've always said that Tom reminds me of a mad scientist in his coaching style, meaning he's so technical about the sport that he knows exactly how to customize workouts specific to the athlete. The Cal Lutheran aquatic storage closet is filled with a million gadgets like mono fins, paddles, bands, snorkels, power racks, etc. that he builds into the workouts. The guy really is a swimming genius and I've found that if you just trust that he knows what he's doing, he'll help you exceed your expectations of yourself.
Tom has a side hobby of photography, so he very nicely told me he had a camera for me if I would use it instead of iPhone photos on my blog. I've never really gotten into photography before so it's been fun to play around with and I'm excited to learn a new skill while I've got the time. Listening to Tom break down the functions of the camera reminded me of how he used to break down stroke form for us way back in the day, patiently and thoroughly.
I was the type of athlete that probably made him want to pull his hair out -- I loved competing, but I was always trying to find a way around the training while still getting to my goal of qualifying for nationals. Swimming is an intense sport -- you wake up at 5AM to jump in a freezing cold pool, go to class, then come back for afternoon practice before your suit has even dried. After spending most of my freshman year fighting off colds and swimmer's ear, I took a year off, but it always bugged me that I hadn't made it to nationals. I thought I had found a way around it my junior year, by studying abroad in Costa Rica for the start of the season and joining the team in January for winter training camp. Turns out that didn't work either, because you really just can't get around putting work in. At the end of the season, Tom and I talked about altering my training to include running because he was pretty sure it was a chlorine allergy that was making me sick all the time.
I maybe took that too literally by joining the cross-country team my senior year. I remember telling Tom that I was going to run cross-country despite having no experience running competitively, and how he practically threw his arms in the air, saying that wasn't what he meant by incorporating running into my training. I didn't actually get out of swim practice that way, since he just made me go to the morning swim workouts on top of the afternoon cross-country practice, but it's definitely one of my favorite college memories. You would think that swimming and running would have some cross-over, but I've always found that swimmers can't run and vice-versa. I was by far the slowest person on the team, but I loved the challenge of trying something new, and I think it helped prepare me mentally for swim season. After cross-country season was over, I buckled down and started listening to my coach, and I finally qualified for nationals at the end of my senior year. Kudos to Tom for sticking with me.
I've hung around Malibu, Ventura and Thousand Oaks because there's so much to do and lots of friends to see, and tomorrow I'll head down to the San Diego area. I told a friend when I got here that I could be done with this trip right now and that would be fine, so maybe I should just start applying for jobs here. He pointed out that this is the perfect time in life to go out on a crazy adventure so I should just do it, and I can always come back later. He's right, and it's been exciting to start making plans on where I'll go after California.
Here's my top 5 favorite things lately.
- tea time
- ocean views
- Malibu sunsets