October 7-9, 2022, Heather Farms Pool, Walnut Creek
The Short Course Meters Championship is the third of the triad of Championships held annually by Pacific Masters Swimming. We have Short Course Yards in the spring, Long Course Meters in the summer, and culminate the competition season with Short Course Meters in the fall.
I drove to Walnut Creek all three days, ignoring the horrible price of gas. I was excited and became very nervous, starting a week before the festivities. My level-headed acupuncturist said, “I know you’re anxious, but you’re also mature enough to enjoy this, right?” She was right, of course, but I needed to hear it. Go, swim, compete, enjoy, which I did.
The weather was perfect. Cool in the mornings turning warm and sunny in the afternoons. 400 swimmers attended, an almost-normal turnout after the COVID lockdowns. It was a festive affair, complete with close races, records broken, and friendly camaraderie. I am getting to know many of the participants and officials since I have been working on the Pacific Masters newsletter, The Update, as an Editor, and attending Conventions and Marketing and Membership meetings. I was with my friends the whole weekend.
On Friday, Annette and I arrived early (7AM) to claim our team’s spot for the weekend. We both swam in the 800-Freestyle Relay and then sat down to wait. And wait we did. Annette was in the 11th heat of the 1500- Freestyle. Each heat took, on average, 20 minutes. Do the math!
I was her designated counter and had a big responsibility. The 1500, 60 laps of the pool, is a distance event and a lot easier to swim if you’re not worried about losing count. I had to pay attention, not wanting to hinder my friend’s swim in any way. She swam well, the correct number of laps, and we finally left for home a little after 5PM.
Back at it on Saturday morning. A week before, I had glanced at the published heat sheets of the meet, the list of who is swimming, in what heat and in which lane. I saw some names that I did not readily recognize, new names, just moving up into my age group. Young whippersnappers who had registered some very fast times, and consequently, I was seeded second place in many of my events, and third place in two swims.
In only one event, the 200-Meter Breaststroke, did I have a chance to win because I was the only one in my age group who had entered – so long as I did not get disqualified. That meant, two-handed touches, shoulders level at the turns, good pull-downs with only one dolphin kick. I was happy that I was the only one who had signed up for the 200 Breast. Not many women my age can swim eight laps of Breaststroke as it is very hard on the knees. I tore my meniscus a few years ago and did not swim the Breaststroke for a long time because of it. My BEMER machine (BEMER USA.COM) saved me, with no surgery required, and I am now able to frog-kick my way to victory!
My first event on Saturday was the 100-Meter Backstroke. Take your mark. Beep! Backwards, blindly, and belly-up, I swam four laps as I had been instructed by Coach. Start out comfortably for the first two, build the third, and come home as fast as possible. I did a good time for me and came in second place for a red ribbon. I prefer blue for first, but red is a very pretty color.
The best part of the swim was that, with the exertion, my nerves had dissipated. I was now ready for the rest of the meet. 50-Meters Breaststroke was next. I had been going to more practices in preparation for this competition, attacked the Breaststroke with vigor, using my knees, and took three seconds off my best time. Yeah! Second place again, now with two red ribbons.
The 100-Meter Freestyle was my last individual event on Saturday. I finished in second place. Our 800-Free relay had won, so I had a pretty, blue ribbon to break up the monochromatic grouping, and our 200 Medley relay had come in third, so a pure-as-the-driven-snow white ribbon balanced out my colorful ribbon display: one blue, three reds and a white.
Sunday morning came early. The familiar drive was almost lonely compared to the previous two days of Friday commuter and Saturday traffic. At 8 AM, I jumped into the water for my 50-Meter Backstroke. There and back as fast as I could. Again, I swam a good time for me and earned second place.
The 200-Breaststroke was next. I swam the long eight laps relatively slowly and methodically and had enough energy at the end to sprint home, coming in four seconds faster than I had swum the event in July. That result lends credence to the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, and a blue ribbon for my efforts.
Just to show that you never know how a particular race will turn out, even though I was listed as second, I surprisingly won my 50-Meter Freestyle. I’m not sure how, but I quickly retrieved my blue ribbon before anyone changed their mind! Four second places and two firsts. One more race to go.
The last race was my favorite, the 200-Meter Backstroke. It has become my signature race. I nailed it in July, at Long Course, finishing many seconds ahead of my nearest competitor. This Sunday was different. I was seeded second, with a very fast swimmer ahead of me, and my friend Phyllis very close behind me. It was going to be a race!
The faster swimmer was a no-show, so the anticipated race was between me and Phyllis. I swam well, started out slowly as is necessary for a 200, and came back fast. But not exactly fast enough. Phyllis out touched me by a second. She beat me fair and square, but in so doing, pushed me to do a very good time. Second place again.
Phyllis won High Point and she deserved it! She swam all the distance Freestyles, the 1500, the 800 and the 400. She conquered the amazingly difficult 400-IM, 200-IM, and 200-Butterfly, finishing with her triumphant 200-Back. Very hard races, all. Congratulations to my competition.
Thank you, Pacific Masters, for an amazing year of swimming. I’ll see everyone in Santa Rosa, at the Resolution Meet in January, and we’ll do it all again.