Swimfail

The meet I referred to here happened this weekend. It was a long-course meet, meaning that it held in what is general referred to as an Olympic-sized pool (50 meters long). This isn’t a common distance in the US, as the majority of meets are swum in 25 yard pools, often referred to as short-course yards. So while the total amount of swimming is pretty similar, the difficulty of both types is not. Swimming long-course means there are a lot fewer turns. Turns are awesome. You end up going way faster coming out of them and they offer a bit of a break from the fairly repetitive movements of swimming. Aside from one hellacious week, I’ve basically only ever used short-course pools.

I mentioned in that post that I could really only swim well for 20-40 seconds. This limits the events I should swim to the shortest and second-shortest, which are generally either 50 or 100 yards (or sometimes, meters). Due to the way the events were situated at this weekend’s meet, I could really only do the 50 and 100 meter freestyle – the 100s of strokes were all right before the 50 (the one event I knew I could do well in) and the only other available events were all 200 meters or more. Because of the ease of the events I generally swim, they generally have the most competition. Looking through the psych sheets last week, I saw that I wasn’t seeded very highly – a bunch of other local collegiate swimmers were planning on swimming, too. Since the main draw of this meet is the free jacket you get for placing fourth or better, I started thinking about entering other events. There were two events scheduled for the first day, Friday, that only had two other people in my age group, so I’d only have to swim the race without being disqualified to get a jacket. The 50 and 100 freestyles were on Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn’t risking either by swimming on Friday.

There were three events that first day – the 800 freestyle, with five competitors registered, and 400 individual medley and the 200 butterfly, both with three competitors entered. The decision for me was easy – pick the shorter event. 200 meters is way less than 400, might as well do some butterfly. I’ve never been a particularly good butterflyer, only having ever practiced or raced 50 yards of it at a time. That’s always at pretty high effort, I thought, so I should be able to float 200 meters of it fine. Not the case. I warm up real easy, swimming maybe 15 yards of butterfly at a time. Real long, real relaxed. K, ready to go. I get up to the blocks next to a 35 year old woman who isn’t even using them – she’s going to start in the water. I’ve got a head start, sweet. The race starts, I stay underwater as long as I can and then start swimming the slowest butterfly I think I’ve ever done. But, since it still is technically a goddamn race, I’m swinging my arms way too quickly on my recovery (the parts where my arms are out of the water). This, combined with both the absolute enormity of the pool I was in and my butterfly n00bishnish, started to really tear at my shoulders pretty quickly. At about 75 yards (still in the lead in my heat mind you, these people were not moving quickly), I start to barely get my arms out of the water. I looked like these kids. So now, not only are my shoulders on fire but I’m starting to realize I look like an idiot. Neither of these things sit well with me. I finish two laps and start on the second half of the race, trying to stay underwater as long as I could to conserve my arms. This doesn’t work, because I can’t breathe underwater. I don’t like not breathing, so I come up way too early. I only make it about another ten yards until I fucking give up and start swimming freestyle. That jacket ain’t worth this. I coast my way to the next wall, stand around for a minute and then jump out at the far end of the pool. Ridiculously embarrassing, but my shoulders hurt so fuck you. Don’t even bother warming down and I leave.

Come back Saturday, get there real early and actually get a proper warm-up in. Today’s the 50 free, my best event. Prolly not gettin’ top 4 in the 100, gotta show up today. I’m in an outside lane, again next to a girl*, but I’ll be breathing away from her so I’ll only ever see the gutter. The race starts and I’m out quick. Went into it thinking that I’d just hold my breath the whole way – that’s what Olympians do, so I’ll do it too. Make it about 15 meters before I breathe. And then I start breathing basically every stroke. This is obviously going to slow me down, but I like air, dammit. For the first time ever I start tying up in a 50, my arms feel heavy. That’s not good. Put my head down, get five meters from the wall and mistime my finish. Whoops. Don’t even ask the timer what I went before I start walking away. Wasn’t good, don’t wanna know. Wait for the results to get posted and what’dya know I came in…fifth. By a tenth of a second. Fantastic. Good job, team. I leave, happy with my time (it was under the goal I set for myself), but a bit disappointed I didn’t leave with anything.

*When the race was over, she gave me the sportsmanlike, “Good race!” comment. Thought she might’ve been hot. But then I remembered what happened the last time I started thinking like that around a pool deck and reconsidered. And no, she was not super old. 19. Rawr.

Make it back on Sunday after the check-in for the 100 already happened. Still got in, but am in the slowest heat (with old people) and I have about ten minutes to go to the bathroom, get in my suit and get warmed up. Also not good. Finish all that, barely, and the race starts. This time all my competitors are on my left, meaning I’ll see them when I breathe. I tend to breathe every stroke of a 100 after the first couple, just so I don’t run out of air at the end. I take my first breath probably 15 meters into the race and I don’t see a single person next to me. Anywhere. Was there a false start? I don’t hear the buzzer going off. I slow down, breathe again, this time looking further back behind me to see if anyone’s there. Yup, they’re back there, somehow already a couple body lengths behind me. I’m so much faster than 50 year olds. Keep my stroke long and stretchy for the first 50; don’t wanna tie up again coming back. Flip, start heading for the finish. I swim for what feels to be 75 meters, but still am not finished. Panicked, I nearly pick my head up Baywatch-style looking for the wall. Shit, still like 15 meters away. Head back down, arms dying, I make it in. Look at the clock, I finish a solid 4 seconds slower than I’d wanted to. Also probably not going to get a jacket. Goddammit. Luckily, I had anticipated this and signed up for the weekend’s last event – the 200 breaststroke. There were four entrants in this event already – meaning I’m going to have to beat one if I want that elusive jacket.

The event gets underway and I’m looking around to see who my competition is. Sceent one guy already, has a pretty legit seed time and just looks the part of a breaststroker. Ain’t gonna beat him. Another kid’s already swam some pretty solid times in other 200 yard distances – ain’t beating him either. Can’t find the other kid, but he’s seeded similarly to the two other kids. But then I see him. The one person I have to beat to get that fucking jacket. He’s about 5’7″, 200 lbs and covered in hair. Also wearing AEPi shorts, which was hilarious. I look up some of his times from other events (the results are all posted right on deck), and he’s placed last in everything he’s swam so far. Excellent. His 100 breast time was almost two minutes. No way he’ll go out faster in a race twice as long. I got this.

The race starts and I’m swimming against two 50+ year old women. Just keep pace with them, they’ll beat this kid. I swim basically the slowest I’ve ever swam before – putting in absolutely no effort, arms moving with as little force behind them as I can muster, legs nowhere near their maximum range of motion. Hit the first wall and I’m ahead of those bitches, but not by as much as I’d expected. Shit, maybe I’m going too slow. Pick it up a bit, but then that gets tiring so I slide back into coast-mode. The clock is an absolutely giant display to my right, I can nearly see it as I’m swimming back. I’ll catch a glance at it when I turn, so I’ll know how much effort I’ll have to expunge to beat that furry Jew. Hit the wall, pick my head up a bit slower than normal, see I’m at a minute-forty five. Ridiculously slow, but faster than the other kid’s 100 breast. Phew, should be set. Swim the next seventy five yards even easier than before until sprinting my way in. I looked so boss finishing, negative split that bitch fo sho. I get out, it was a 3:41 or something. I lose to pretty much everyone else that swam the event, even the 10-12 year old boys and girls. Whoops, shit don’t matter to me. I’m totally gonna get a jacket. Yeehaw. Take off my goggles and sit down to see what this kid goes, only to confirm that I raped his ass. I’m down for no more than two seconds before an official comes over to me, saying that I should’ve been DQ’d. What’d I do, I ask. One hand touch at the 100 meter mark. Guess I was thinking a bit too much about looking at the clock and a bit too little about being official. Shit. Luckily, he spares me, probably thinking that I have muscular dystrophy or something thanks to my incredible slowness in that race. Next heat starts and I watch the kid split 2:00 for his first 100. Got it. I swim a quick cool down, get dressed and grab my winnings. Threw the jacket on, turned my swag on and strutted out that pool deck. Ain’t nobody gonna hold me down, motherfucker.

Proof’d and edited at 11:13 PM, 07/12/10.

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2 Responses to “Swimfail”

  1. Way to throw down on senior citizens and prepubescent girls. Wait. They let you anywhere neeeeear the latter? What kind of careless cretins were in charge of this event, anyhow?

    Good job getting the jacket though. I lol’d lots at this.

    • Yeah, it was a poor environment to be in. I only had one inappropriate run in, though. Got a quick glimpse of a girl timing at the end of one lane, thought she looked cute. Got a bit closer, realized she was probably fourteen. Hate when that happens.

      And I ended up giving away the jacket to my dad. Happy birthday to him!

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