I took the day off work today. It’s not much of a vacation. My arms feel like I bench-pressed an elephant. My stomach feels like it’s been turned inside out. And my head is pounding from the symphony of hammers and drills coming from the apartment under renovation next door.
I'm recovering from a three-day party, which started on Friday when 15 of us from the English Bay Swim Club shipped off to the provincial swimming championships in Nanaimo. On the ferry ride over, the coach asked each of us what our goals were for the weekend. I told him my goals were to:
1. Pick up a cute guy at the banquet on Saturday night.
2. Work up the courage to go down the waterslide.
3. Help my friend Carl hook up with a hot swimmer.
4. Set personal records in the 800-metre and 1500-metre freestyle events (I only threw that in there because I figured I should have at least one swimming-related goal).
By the end of the weekend, I had successfully met two of my goals. Which two? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.
We arrived at the pool around 6 p.m. I had five hours to kill until I swam the 1500-metre freestyle so I decided to work on goal number three.
Ironically, the guy my friend Carl had his eye on was the same guy I used to have a crush on. He’s a star swimmer, a Ph.D. student in medical genetics, funny, cute and nice. I tried to work up the courage to ask him out about four years ago when we were riding the ferry back to Vancouver after a swim meet in Nanaimo.
I chickened out and ended up giving my business card to his coach. I told the coach I liked one of his swimmers and that if he liked me back, he should email me at the address on the card.
He wrote me a long email -- to tell me he was flattered but that he was gay.
A few weeks ago, Carl was chatting with my ex-crush on-line and realized they would both be at provincials. As soon as we saw the cute guy arrive at the pool, Annelle and I started jumping up and down and waved him over to where we were sitting.
We chatted him up for a while. Carl, who is normally ear splittingly loud, didn’t say a word. Meeting goal number three was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
Eventually, everyone left to eat dinner and go to bed. I was stuck at the pool until after 11 p.m. because I was in the second-last heat of the 1500-metre freestyle.
I ended up placing first in my age group with a time of 22 minutes and 39 seconds. Not bad considering the fact that I hadn’t eaten dinner or stayed up that that late on a Friday night for a long time.
The cup of coffee I drank on Friday night in order to stay awake for the 1500 also kept me up until 4:30 a.m. I arrived at the pool on Saturday cranky, sore and tired.
I didn’t have a very good day in the pool. All of my races were several seconds slower than what they should have been. My proudest accomplishment of the day was conquering my biggest fear -- the green waterslide.
Every year there is a swim meet in Nanaimo and every year my teammates try to get me to go down the green waterslide. I usually get to the top of the stairs and chicken out at the last second. Then I go down the blue slide with the six-year-olds.
The blue slide is gentle and fun. The green slide is steep and fast and scary. Pregnant women or people with heart conditions are not advised to use it. I don’t have many fears in life other than cockroaches, roller coasters and waterslides.
But this year I was determined to get over my fear of waterslides. I warmed up with a few runs on the blue slide. Everyone else from the team was ripping down the green slide and teasing me for being such a wimp.
Before I knew what was happening, I was pulled up the stairs and practically pushed on the green slide. Annelle told me to close my mouth because the water would rush up over my face. Heather warned me that I might lose my lunch. I looked at the gushing water at the opening of the small green tunnel and panicked.
Everyone in line started yelling at me so I tentatively peered down the mouth of the slide. But I slipped and was down the slide, whipped around at warp speed and spat out at the bottom in 11 seconds flat. Everyone cheered and I stood up feeling like I had just won an Olympic medal.
The highlight of provincials is always the Saturday evening banquet. These parties are legendary -- legendary for being really bad. One year, we suffered through an embarrassing tap dance routine. Another year, the banquet featured an offensive, washed-up comedian.
This year’s banquet looked promising. It was being headlined by a local band playing music from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The UBC team was drinking heavily and were getting louder and louder as the night went on. Every time they would raise their glasses for a toast, my friend Tom would glare accusingly at me and say, "They're having more fun than us."
Because being beaten by UBC out of the pool was just as bad as being beaten by them in the pool, we started making our own noisy toasts and loud cheers.
Carl was getting impatient with the slow progress of goal number three so I decided to step it up a notch. I walked over to the object of his affection and told him someone on my team thought he was cute and wanted to know if he was single. I was expecting him to say, "Um….didn’t you get my email four years ago?"
But he shook his head and said he had just started seeing someone. Carl was devastated. I kind of thought it was funny that not only were we both interested in the same guy, but we were both rejected by him too.
Unfortunately for me, there were no eligible bachelors under the age of 60 at the banquet so I left without meeting goal number one.
The competition was less stiff on Sunday when half of the UBC team showed up late and hungover. It didn’t help me much. I still managed to swim badly. Though not too badly in the 800-metre freestyle.
The most grueling part of the day was waiting three hours to get on a ferry back to Vancouver. Still, even that was fun. I can’t wait until Nationals in Toronto next month! But I think I should work on a new set of goals....