Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Race report

Just a few of the nice young men who came out to cheer me on.

Canadian Masters National Swimming Championship
May 20-23, 2005
Toronto, Ontario

Just a few days ago, I was pacing the pool deck right before one of my races, vowing to never swim at another meet again. My heart was racing, my stomach was in knots, my nerves were shot, my whole body was shaking with anxiety.

How you deal with that moment -- the moment before stepping up on the blocks, before the gun goes off -- can make or break your race. You are either good at controlling your thoughts and emotions or you're not. I'm not. In that moment, I am overcome with dread. What I fear most is the pain I'm about to put myself through.

I have a low tolerance for pain. I dread feeling like my lungs are alternately on fire or about to explode. I dread feeling the oxygen-deprived muscles in my arms and legs turn to lead near the end of the race. I dread feeling like I'm about to die.

I have the same internal dialogue before every race: "Why am I doing this? This isn't fun. This is going to hurt. I hate pain. Why do I keep putting myself through all of this? I feel sick. I think I'm going to throw up. This is the last swim meet I've ever swimming at."

So why do it at all? Well, because two days after the meet ended, I'm sitting here thinking about how much fun it was and how happy I am with my results. If you really wanted to analyze it, there's probably something masochistic about it too. Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the weekend:

Two silver medals
I ended up winning two silver medals in the 1500 metre free and the 800 metre free. Completely unexpected and unintended. While I am happy about this, I am conflicted about being a distance swimmer. I'd rather be a sprinter. The race is over so much faster and there's less pain.

The banquet
Masters swimming banquets are legendary -- legendary for being really bad. This one did not disappoint. We were "entertained" by an Elvis impersonator, who also gave us a "motivational" speech. Actually, I found the table of swimmers sitting next to us more amusing. They called themselves the Aurora Ducks, but I renamed them the Aurora Cougars. All of the 40-something women on the team were wearing slinky black dresses. Their hair was perfect and their makeup was thick. It was obvious they were on the prowl. It's just too bad none of the cute young guys at the meet showed up for the banquet.

My parents hosted a BBQ on Sunday night for the English Bay Swim Club. Except my brother and my cousin Doug crashed the party. They were over at my parents' house watching basketball playoffs since they don't have cable at their apartment. Now that I think about it, the only time I *ever* see my brother or my cousin is when there is free food or some sort of game on TV. The BBQ was fun, other than dealing with my dad going around the table asking everyone's life stories. I cut him off at 20 questions per person. Thankfully, embarrassing stories about my childhood were kept to a minimum.

Team bonding
My friends Victoria and Gilles stayed with me at my parents' place. We didn't spend a lot of time there. I felt bad for Victoria, who had never been to Toronto before. There wasn't a lot of time to take in any tourist attractions. However, Victoria made time to go up the CN Tower where she was surprised to find out that Toronto is much bigger than my parents' house and the pool. I also got to hang out with our other two teammates, Peter and Paul, who I now know much better.

My dad
This was the first swim meet where my dad and I were both competing. It was fun cheering him on. My mom and my sisters also came out a couple of times but decided that watching a swim meet was kind of boring. My dad didn't win any medals (although he did place 7th in the 50 metre breaststroke). He said he role for the weekend was to provide entertainment value for others.

Free massages
Need I say more?

Good times
  • 1500 metre freestyle: 22:03.29, 2nd place
  • 800 metre freestyle: 11:21.31, 2nd place
  • 400 metre freestyle: 5:29.20, 5th place
  • 200 metre freestyle: 2:38.36, 5th place
  • 50 metre freestyle: 31.61, 5th place
  • 100 metre freestyle: 1:09.75, 8th place
  • 200 metre freestyle relay: 1:53.21, 5th place
That' s it for now. I've skipped a lot of details but it's 20 degrees and sunny right now and I'd rather be outside than in front of this computer for another second.

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