Let’s first ignore the melodramatic title – this weekend was the 5th Annual Jenny Thompson Invitational hosted by Seacoast Swim Association at the Jenny Thompson Outdoor Pool. It was my first meet of the Summer, and most importantly, my first meet since champs.
Prelims served as a reminder that just when you think you’re getting into shape…you’re not. On Friday, I swam the 200 IM and 50 free. They’re hardly worth mentioning and I did not swim them in finals. On Saturday, I awoke at 5:15 in order to make it to the 6:00 warm up. The meet began at 7:00 and I swam the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. Somehow, despite abysmal swims in both events, I returned to swim in both events in the consolation finals. In the butterfly I managed to chop down my time from the morning by a few seconds and finish in a mediocre 1:04. Not great, but not bad for my current state.
The backstroke proved to be the turning point in my meet. Again, not a world record or a best time or even a very good time, but more up to par. I finished in 1:03.58 to hear the announcement that I had broken the meet record. Unfortunately, this was a clerical error as the record had been broken by another swimmer in prelims. Placing 7th officially, I posted the 2nd best time in finals.
Now to return to the title of this post. Swimming is a solitary sport that takes a strong willed person to succeed in. It can break down some of the toughest resolves and, indeed, make you regret the decisions you made to join the sport. Its a sport that a masochist would love and maybe thats what we all are. There’s a good feeling you get when you complete a hard practice or swim a fast time. But sometimes eight practices a week, plus lifting, makes you want to go to sleep for a week.
Only the truly strong willed remember there is a purpose. Your pain and suffering are not futile. Even if its only one race a year, your commitment will be rewarded. Swimmers must constantly remind themselves of their goals and that the only way to achieve them is the old fashioned way – pain.
There will be plenty more of it in the coming weeks. As I begin my first week of lifting since May, things will surely get interesting.