The last county championships I swam in were nearly seven years ago. I hadn’t trained for about 5 years. Over the last two weekends I competed in the Cambridgeshire County Championships after about 8 months back in the water – so what happened?
So there I am on the blocks for my last event in the 2001 Cambridgeshire County Championships, the 100 free. I’m 23 and the average age of the other 7 swimmers must be about 16. Worse still I’ve somehow been drawn as the fastest swimmer it the heat. “How on earth did I get myself into this?” was the one thought that kept trying to pop into my mind. How indeed you may ask.
As a teenager I used to swim quite a lot. I never really set the swimming world alight, but I was fairly useful, competed regularly in the Hampshire Counties and made one appearance at the Nationals – my sole appearance in a national final (the 4x200m Freestyle relay) in 1994 was once immortalised in a banner for this site. I swam up until the end of my first year at university when a) a falling out with the university swimming captain and b) the lure of the bar and other sports meant that I stopped. And that was it, until last Easter when I was somehow talked into competing on my old club’s open meet as they were short of entrants for the men’s open backstroke. To cut a long story short, one race later, one time within 1.5s of my lifetime best and I was hooked again, so I joined up with my current club, City of Cambridge, and away I went.
Swimming was great, I was training about 4 times a week and really enjoying it, but needed something to target to keep me motivated – hence the entry into the counties. So how did it go? Well a time 2s slower than my lifetime best over 200 f/c was a good start, followed with some solid splits in the relay ‘C’ team gave me great encouragement after the first weekend. When I then swam within 0.8s of my lifetime best over 100 b/c in the first session of the second weekend I was over the moon, but then it started to go downhill. Under par performances in the 50’s then found me on the blocks for the 100 f/c looking to go back under 60s for the first time since I started swimming again. In my last outing I had recorded 1:00.10 so surely it was a formality?
What followed can only be described as a nightmare, and quite possibly the worst race technically I have swum since I was about 13. Missing the first turn completely and then compounding the error by missing the third one as well left me with a 1:00.86. I was gutted.
But do I regret it? Not at all – I can hardly wait for my next race and am still thoroughly enjoying it – so go on if you’ve been wondering whether to start swimming again – dig out those trunks and do it.