Monday, May 24, 2004

Victorious, I return from my very first Masters' National swim competition.

Well, not quite victorious, but I did put in a good showing. Second place in the 50 breaststroke, 3rd in the 50 fly and a somewhat respectable 7th on 200 freestyle. Very good, considering the meet was representing all of Canada.

One of my teammates broke a Canadian record and of course the whole team was thrilled for her. She was floored - she had no idea her times were even close to the record. It got me to thinking, "Maybe I have a chance at one of these records for my age group." I was quickly brought down to earth.

One of the competitors in my age category has a natural gift for swimming. At age thirty-seven, he is going to compete against 18 and 19 year-olds at the Canadian Olympic trials in July. He got into swimming on a lark, starting when he was 18 years old. When I was eighteen, I had been training for five years, doing 11 two-hour practices a week. Yet this fella, after just four months of fairly low-key training, set a city record that stands to this day, twenty years later, for 100 metre butterfly (1:01.32). After all the training I had done when I swam age-group, I was barely able to go 1 minute and 12 seconds for that race.


I have to be at peace with the fact that I will never be a record holder in swimming. That's not why I swim. I swim because it is a healthy thing to do while I spend time with my buddies. It's not too expensive equipment-wise, you don't get all sweaty while you're doing it, and it's a gentle sport on your body (especially your joints). I sleep well after hard workouts. Swimming can be done at your own pace and no one gets left behind on the trail or road becuase they're not as fast as the others. Those that swim tend to be comfortable with their bodies. You can't help it after standing face-to-face with each other, hour after hour, in nothing but lycra.

I admit that a competitive fire burns within me when I am in motion. When I am swimming a length and I look over to the next lane and see someone swimming at the same pace (or a bit faster), I'm compelled to beat them to the end of the length. That little spark makes me train better and work harder. It also makes me appreciate having teammates, as I wouldn't be pushed to the same degree if I swam alone, even if it is me doing the pushing.

I am at peace with my performance when I am done. I see others setting records and reaching other great personal achievements due to natural talent, or perhaps just dedication and drive. I know I balance all the other important things in my life (including goofing-off time for myself) and give what I can to swimming. One of my teammates noticed that I seemed happy with my reasonable showing at the meet and commented on it this weekend. They said that I seem to always be accepting of my swims, be them great or not-so-great. I took that as a wonderful complement.

No comments: