A swimming comeback

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.

Me at the nationals (I’m the one diving in)

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.