A few weeks ago I got a call from someone who had a “friend” coming to town for a few days and was looking for a group to swim with. The “friend” was labelled as an ex-Olympian who is thinking about doing an ironman with a goal time of approximately 50 minutes for the swim.
At first I assumed assumed that “Olympian” meant swimmer, but after some thought I realized that a 50 minute ironman swim would be slow for a former Olympian swimmer, but fast for anyone else. It then hit me who it was, and that explained why the purposely vague description. When a time and place was decided as to when and where the swim workout would be, I was lucky enough to get a special invite to the swim with the Calgary Masters. The opportunity gave me goose bumps.
Lance showed up right before the workout began. My initial thought was, “he’s not as tall as he looks on camera.” The folks at Calgary Masters were very good because although they were very excited to have a 7 time Tour de France swim with them, they allowed Lance to get into the water quite quickly and get a swim workout in.
It is well known that Lance began his athletic career as a swimmer, then triathlete before his cycling career took off. Lance was a legitimate top pro-triathlete at a very young age. Still though, I wasn’t expecting him to swim as fast as he did. We did a total of 3,100m, with the main set being 15x100m on 1:40, 25m pool (meaning we started a new 100m every 1:40). Approximately half of the intervals were to be “fast”, and half were “easy.” It soon became evident that Lance is quite the swimmer as he was doing his “fast” intervals at approximately 1:02, and his easy intervals on approximately 1:11. I was fortunate to be swimming in the same lane as Lance, and I can honestly say that everyone brought up their game that day as we were all excited to be swimming with Lance.
Lance came to the swim workout and was was very polite. It came across as though he was very much appreciating the fact that he could get in a workout within his busy travel and work schedule. He listened to the coaches. He did what the group was doing and didn’t try to change it. He swam very fast. After the workout he posed for photos with people and signed some autographs. He really was a class act.
I am a huge cycling fan. I’ve read many of the books for and against Lance. I admit that I had already formed an opinion about an individual that is truly bigger than the sport, long before I had met him. Those who follow the sport have also likely formed an opinion as to what cycling was like over the past 20 years. This was the first time that I’ve ever had the opportunity to workout with someone who is truly bigger than sport. I was very impressed how Lance just tried to fit in.