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If he swims a 1:15 and she swims a 1:25, who is the squirrel?


I have a swim buddy, Kevin. I have gotten so much faster swimming with him because he’s so much faster than me. He’s also really good at swimming math. He used to be a coach, and tricky math is a requirement. Figuring out the right interval for different distances is a real art. The other part of swimming math is all a game to him, finding ways to challenge himself despite me being slower. Sometimes he’ll calculate how much more distance he can do while waiting for me to finish a set. The reality is, anything long distance he can finish well before me. Other times he gives me a certain head start, depending on the length of that interval. Sometimes I’ll wear fins so I can keep up with him. He’s a good sport.

But you should know, he loves racing, and while he loves playing “catch up” (giving me a head start) he never gives me enough time to beat him. If we’re swimming 100 yards, he gives me 9 seconds. He will always touch the wall 1 second before me. I don’t know how much time he gives me for every distance, I just know it’s never enough.

This past week I was swimming unusually fast. We were about to take off for a 150 yard interval, that’s 6 lengths of the pool, and he was trying to calculate how many seconds to give.

Kevin: You just held a 1:30 pace easy for that 200, so I think I’ll only give you 13 seconds.
Me: Yeah I held a 1:30 for that, but I probably won’t again. I’m exhausted.
Kevin: No, no. You can do it. You get 13, that’s all.
Me: One set of 1:30 does not mean the rest of the day is 1:30.
(I don’t know why I bother arguing with him, I’m terrible at swimming math)
Kevin: Don’t sell yourself short!
Me: Every now and then, even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

At that point it was the top of the minute and I pushed off the wall. We did our 6 lengths, he beat me by 1 second, and we popped up at the same time.

Kevin: Who’s the squirrel?!
Me: What?
Kevin: You said, ‘every now and then a blind squirrel finds a nut’ so am I the squirrel or are you? I spent that whole interval thinking about squirrels and now I’m so confused.
Me: The identity of the squirrel depends on how many seconds head start you give me.


Kevin: Okay well this time the distance is 100, I’m only giving you 9, and somebody is a squirrel. Go!

We have a good time. But do you know what it feels like to lose every set, of every swim, of every day? I do. Maybe that’s the trick to getting faster: complete demoralization.

The last set we raced was 100 yards.
Kevin: I’ll give you 10 seconds, if you go a 1:25 on this it means I have to go a 1:15.
Me: I can’t do a 1:25, I’m so tired. I hate this. I hated this before we started and I still hate it now.
Kevin: Stop whining. You can do a 1:25, no problem.
Me: I’ve literally never gone that fast in my life.
Kevin: 10 seconds. This’ll be fun. Get ready.

We swim. He touched the wall before me.

Me: *gasp* 1:25 on the nose!
Kevin: Nice work, 1:15, nailed it.
Me: *gasp* how did you beat me, I hit the 1:25!
Kevin: Oh. Yeah. I only gave you 9 seconds.

Every. Single. Time.

I wanted to set some goals for the race tomorrow. A sprint distance is hard because it truly is a sprint from start to finish. (I’m re-reading that and I realize how it sounds but there’s really no other way to say it.) The swim is 750 meters, the bike is 12 miles, and the run is a 5k. I KNOW. Why do they mix metric and imperial? It’s a triathlon thing.

Hubs is sitting next to me while I write this, providing commentary, “well 12 miles is 20k. So technically it’s all metric.”

Nobody says 20k for the bike. That’s why.


I have a 13 minute goal for the 750m swim. Last year I did it in 14:50.
Bike goal: Hubs says my goal has to be 33:00 for the bike and “at least 2 mph faster than last year.”
Fine. Last year was 36:49 and 20.2mph.
Run goal: 22:30 which is a 7:15 pace. Last year was 24:19 which is a 7:50/mile.
The first transition always takes a little longer because of wet suit removal. However, I timed myself at the pool taking it off and was under 18 seconds. Not too shabby. So T1 should be less than 2 minutes. T2 is fast, swapping bike shoes for run shoes, that should be around 1 minute.

Total time for race: 1 hour, 11 minutes, 30 seconds. Optimistically, at least.

1 thought on “If he swims a 1:15 and she swims a 1:25, who is the squirrel?”

  1. Hope you have a great race and that they’ve squirreled away some nuts (or chocolate) for you at the finish

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