I had 11 swimmers entered in the meet, along with four extras that just swam relays. We also had a nice entourage that included two swimmers that I currently train (or train occasionally) who are registered on other teams, two spouses, a curious but dry teammate, and six kids.
My team, MEMO, ended up 11th in the Medium Team division. When having 11 registered swimmers makes you "medium" I think our organization needs to do a little more advertising. But we did score a lot of points, which means that we were competitive even among the large teams. The high point of the meet, besides picking our MEMO team colors (brown and turquoise -- now working out a big deal for replica jerseys) was watching the thrill of several swimmers participating in their first-ever meet.
Thrill may be too strong a word for some. Terror (pre-swim) and Relief/Coach Hatred (post-swim) might be more appropriate. Several of my old hands really love swimming in competitions, but by the large number of people who resisted my persistent pleas for signing up for the meet, not all people do.
I'm one of those people who just LOVE competing. I have personal best times for all my swim events, of course, but also the "run" (see previous blog) around Lake Merritt, and the drives to all points in the Bay Area. I even know my workout bests, my workouts when I'm out of shape, workouts when I have my orange suit instead of the black one, workouts when the pool is under 80 degrees/over 80 degrees, workouts with an illness, and workouts after 1 p.m. I also have a PB for writing this blog, which will not be broken today due to its low quality and the many distractions outside the window.
And yet despite all the things I measure, it's really the meets that keep me going. When I don't have a short-term goal it's hard to motivate myself to get in the water. When the Masters World Championships were in the Bay Area I never missed a day of training, as with the Masters Nationals we traveled to in 2007. But I'm more content these days to spectate at my daughter's goals. When she heads off to college in two more years (pause for uncontrollable crying), I'm sure I'll find something.
And so I'm more than satisfied watching my novices conquer their fears and get up on the blocks, and seeing my veterans' pride when they do everything they've been working on and it comes up great. It's not easy standing up there on the starting blocks, all alone, with all eyes watching you. The quiet before the starting beep is so thick with anticipation that the only relief is how way too short it is. Then those novices fling themselves into the water (so cute -- kind of like a dive, but not exactly) and churn off. All the other MEMOs are at the turn end of the pool cheering them on, and every one of the new swimmers weakly raised a triumphant arm after their big race.
In my daughter's meets, the mainly lunatic parents are at the other end screaming at the top of their lungs giving pathetically technical advice to kids that aren't listening at all. At Masters meets, the spectator swimmers are all positive screamers at the other end, with no idea what advice to give. It's much nicer. Even cuter are the kids who yell "go daddy" and aren't affiliated with the Internet domain registrar.
And now that this meet is done for the year, we all have great memories to look back on. The swim meet Swimmer's High is even bigger and more satisfying than the workout Swimmer's High. If we could just work on those dives a little more.