Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A non-champ’s ocean race at Manly

  I’m not an ace swimmer. I wasn’t a swimming champ in my teens and I’m not one in my middle age. I tell everyone that I’m a distance swimmer, that I’m not fast and that I don’t worry about competition. But in the ocean swims I sometimes find myself placed in my age group. This is so thrilling!  It gives me a taste of what it would feel like to really be an elite swimmer. It only happens when the ace swimmers are off competing somewhere else or have something more important on. The Manly LSC Blue Dolphins is one such swim. For some reason a lot of the top-draw swimmers stay away. So, despite my lack of race preparation - missed squads because of visitors and a week of boozy late nights to celebrate my daughter’s Christmas visit - I dared imagine victory.

This ocean swim was 2km from Manly round a course in Cabbage Tree Bay. The day was perfect: small waves, no wind and clear water. I was in the 50+ category, men and women. After a rather poor start my vision of victory faded a little. ‘Not to worry, I’m pretty consistent,’ I thought, ‘I’ll catch up.’ I lost the bunch I’d been swimming with just before the last buoy and the vision of victory dimmed. On to the finish. I didn’t catch a wave in, (I never do). I staggered a bit when I tried to move from the horizontal to the vertical. ‘Never mind. A big chestful of air, head up and belt up the beach as fast as possible.’ It was at this point a fellow non-champ* competitor in my category started to overtake. ‘NO WAY!’ With a mammoth effort I changed into top gear and gave it absolutely everything I had. My come-uppance was nigh. I stumbled, fell flat on my face, just short of the finish line. Non-champ sailed past and took third position.  Defeat. I came fourth in my age group and spent the rest of the day sulking.
*apologies to non-champ swimming chum (really)

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