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Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)

NMSC Apr/02 Newsletter

Winterlude - A Novice's Perspective

I woke up in the morning and already felt nervous. It must be race day! As the day progressed I kept returning to the thought, 'What am I doing competing in a swim meet?' Most of the people at the meet have been competing for years - some of them since they were teenagers! I on the other hand, am a novice with the club and far from being a teenager anymore. However, I asked that fateful question one day of my coach, 'Do you think, maybe, I might possibly, remotely consider entering in the upcoming meet?' She said, 'Absolutely. Enter the 50M Breast Stroke and the 50M Freestyle.' And so it began.

My increased motivation amazed me. Soon came the learning to dive off of the starters block - without my goggles coming off. Then came all the questions. What do I eat? When should I get there? How hard do I have to touch at the end? Do I touch with one hand or two? Will I start with a gun or a ding? Questions, questions, questions. Things an experienced competitor would know but that I didn't have a clue about. I wish I'd paid more attention when watching the Olympics! Needless to say, my coach answered them all patiently and well.

Then the big day came. As I alluded to before, I was nervous as soon as I woke up. I followed all of my coach's suggestions. It was great to walk out to the pool area and see some familiar faces. Even better - they were all nervous too! After a good warm up and some practice dives, the meet began with much anticipation and excitement. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Another good pointer I received was to talk to one of the coaches with the club since my coach was away at another swim meet. I found Ben and he was great. We talked about a lot of stuff but the best thing he said was, 'At your first meet your only goal is to have fun!' and he was right. As the races progressed, I noticed the supportive environment evident in the cheering of the people that were trying their hardest but were not necessarily the fastest. Everyone was there to do their best and let the chips fall where they may.

My races went well. I was very much running on adrenaline for the first race, finishing first with a personal best and even pounding the touch pad. (Yes, the timers mentioned that that was frowned upon.) The second race was a personal best of 3 seconds less than my best time so far in practice. Although I was clearly not the fastest swimmer in the pool, I was very pleased with how my races went. I realized that the real goal of the day was to have fun and do your best. Sounds like something a kindergarten teacher would say. It's a simple credo but a good one. I never expected to win any ribbons (although I did - 2nd of 2! When will I get that thing anyway?) but I am very happy to have two personal bests! And now I'm even more motivated at practices. Watch out Winterlude 2003!

By Jane Pickett

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