Short Course Meters Championships, Walnut Creek, Clarke Swim Center, October 11-13, 2019
(The exact same spot where we just now had a 4.5 earthquake, Monday night, October 14, 10:45 PM, felt in Petaluma as I'm writing this!)
What a great weekend! I along with my teammates, the Rolling Hills Mud Sharks, attended a terrific, well-run swimming meet Friday, Saturday and Sunday, complete with team camaraderie, exciting races and personal victories. I signed up for seven individual events, including the 200 breaststroke that I haven’t swum since 2014. Somehow, I fit in 5 relays too!
I slipped the 200 breaststroke in, omitting my signature race, the 200 backstroke. We’re not friends anymore since I swam 9 seconds slower than my seeded time for the long course champs in July. I’ll give it a much needed “time out” and perhaps the 200 back and I can connect again next year.
I won my 200 breaststroke. No need to mention that I was the only brave one in my age group to attempt the swim.
Two hard-won 2nd place finishes, behind Laura Val, in the 50 back (45.19) and what has become one of my favorite races, the 100 meter IM (1:41.02). I got 4 third place finishes with my 100 back (1:39.52), the 50-meter breast (57.65), the 100 free (1:22.99) and the 50 fly (44.50).
Now, about that 50 fly: I read the heat sheets before the meet and saw that Mary Welsh, 66 years old, just like me, was seeded right next to me, with the exact seed time, 45 seconds. Mary is usually a faster swimmer, so I was nervous for a few days leading up to this close show-down. Come time for the race, and I’m ready, goggles affixed, standing at my designated Lane, #3, preparing myself for the upcoming exertion of 50 meters of butterfly. I see my nemesis Mary coming along the deck with a panicked look on her face, saying, “I don’t know what lane I’m supposed to be in!” (As an aside, this has happened to me before. At the short course champs last summer, I wrote down the wrong heat number, missed my event and received a no-show as a reward!) Now here’s my competition, in the same predicament.
For a split second, I considered keeping my mouth shut and allowing her to miss the event, giving myself an advantage… But, we swimmers don’t do that to each other, and I called out, “Mary! You’re over here in Lane #4, next to me! My name is Linda.” She responded, “Thank you” and then hesitated, “Oh! You’re THAT Linda!” Apparently she had noticed my name as I had noticed hers.
Off the blocks we went, and butter-flied our way down the pool. We both turned at the same time, and I kicked and pulled as hard as I could to keep up with her…and completely ran out of energy, kicking in the last meter to the wall, to the finish. I had no more strength to do even one more arm stroke over the water… and saw her touch just before me.
She had beaten me, but in the process, pushed me to swim my best time in years, 44.50. Thank you, Mary. I told my teammates that because I helped my competition like that, and accepted the “loss”… I may have guaranteed my entry into Heaven.
It was a wonderful meet. Great people. Inspirational swims. I saw my new swimming friends that I had spent so much time with in St. Louis at the Convention. The Mighty Mud Sharks finished 5th overall, with only 13 registered swimmers, and third for medium teams. Go Mud Sharks!
And the highlight: Our coach missed our splits on the 400 medley relay because she was distracted by a young man, in another lane, doing the butterfly, losing his swim trunks along the way, with a white butt rising and lowering, rising again… Not to worry, our splits will be posted on the results page on the web. I love swimming!