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Masters swimmers ride Tsunami of enthusiasm at Arlington Park Pool

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swimarlington1The Sarasota Tsunami Masters rise before dawn to swim at the Arlington Park Pool.
At 6:30 a.m., adult swimmers begin stroking and kicking through dozens of laps. Some of them are competitors, while others just want some exercise before work. All of them, though, are the earliest of early birds.

“I’m a morning person anyway,” says Gail Donovan, 62. “I’ve tried all forms of exercise and this is the best. You feel stretched out, you feel relaxed. It’s a great start to the day.”
Jodi Schwartz, 45, was a youth swimmer who had gained weight and then decided to get back into shape. She joined Tsunami in October. “I hate running,” she says, “so you go back to your roots.”

Statue of Liberty swim
While the swimmers get into their workouts, I turn to Ira Klein, one of the coaches of the Arlington youth and adult programs.
When I tease him about it being so darn early in the morning, he gives me a look. “I usually try to get my workout in at 5 a.m.,” he says. “Then I come here.”
Klein, 60, was a Sarasota YMCA coach who moved to California and then came back to Florida. He helped start the program at Arlington Park, where youth swimmers voted for the distinctive Tsunami name. “The kids liked the idea,” he says. “A great big wave.”
swimarlington2Many of the adult swimmers at Arlington are interested in triathlons and open-water swimming. They include Andrea Brand, who is training for a swim around the Statue of Liberty. Brand starts to say it isn’t a race, but Klein cuts her off.
“Once you get two people swimming in the same direction,” he jokes, “it’s a race.”
Brand laughs and admits that’s true. What she means is that she won’t be trying to win the swim around the famous statue in New York Harbor. “I’ve just always wanted to do it,” she says.

Swimming and racing
As the sun rises over Arlington Park, turning the sky gray and pink, teen-agers start showing up for practice. While they’re getting started, some of the adults are finishing up.
Donovan, a librarian at New College of Florida, swims three or four days a week. I ask if it’s more for fun or fitness. “More fitness,” she says, “but I did just take part in my first swim meet.”
Schwartz, who’s making a comeback in her sport, enjoys losing weight and getting back into the swim of things. For her, swimming is racing. “I compete — I’m a competitive person,” she says. “I can’t do it just to do it.”
Schwartz works for Manatee Parks and Recreation Department, but she doesn’t mind the early-morning swim schedule at Arlington Park. “I get up at 5 with my dog anyway,” she says.

Interested?

The Sarasota Tsunami Masters program offers morning and evening practice sessions at Arlington Park. Membership is $50 per month.
For more information, visit sarasotaswimacademy.org or call 928-7946.

Interested?
The Sarasota Tsunami Masters program offers morning and evening practice sessions at Arlington Park. Membership is $50 per month. For more information, visit sarasotaswimacademy.org or call 928-7946.
Last modified: August 12, 2013
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