Anyway, I swam - in this order - the 200 IM, the 50 free, the 100 free, and the third leg of the 200 freestyle relay. I shaved a little time off every event I did, so I was happy about that, but the only event I really and truly cared about was that IM. You guys know that, because of my silly, nervous entry yesterday, so I will now proceed to bore you with the details of it.
When I 'casually' timed myself in practice, I swam about a 3:25, so I knew going in that I would come in last - only eight girls were swimming the event and the others had all been high school IMers - so I wasn't all that worried about how I swam in relation to the others. My only goal was to complete the race swimming all the strokes well (especially the fly) and not to look like one of those slow, half-drowning swimmers that everyone 'sympathy claps' for at the end. And I succeeded in that, even though it was pretty tough. The butterfly was actually not too bad - the dive gave me a shorter distance to swim for the first lap than I was used to, since we don't dive in practice, and that helped conserve some strength. The backstroke was pretty uneventful, but things started to get tough during the breaststroke. I was in an end lane, and half the team was standing alongside the pool cheering me on. The only real word I could distinguish was when I first switched from backstroke to breaststroke and heard A yell, "Now PULL!" Which I did, but after only three or four strokes, my arms started to noticeably burn, to the point where I thought, Whoa, I must be working hard - that's never happened quite like that before. So I slacked off a tiny bit for the breaststroke, preferring to have a little bit left for the freestyle. The strategy apparently worked, because I finished the race without feeling like I looked like a struggling idiot. The only difficult part was when I switched to backstroke, because my clumsy push-off managed to send a wave of water over my face and let me suck some chlorine. Yummy. Ever since I read the book Swallowing Stones and learned that the way not to choke on things is to force yourself to swallow no matter what - to suppress the cough reflex and NOT to inhale - I've trained myself to do exactly that. It's instinct now, and it's saved me from choking on food as well as pool water. So I followed that instinct today and didn't choke or have any major issues, but with as fast and hard as I was breathing - especially on breaststroke - I irritated the chlorine coat over my throat and couldn't clear it up for the next couple of hours. But I barely noticed, because I finished, and finished well!
That was enough for me; I was proud just to have completed the race, which so many people consider so difficult. Looking up at the scoreboard was an afterthought - I didn't think about it until I was already out of the water and walking over to the stands - and when I did finally look up, I stopped in my tracks. Instead of the 3:25 I had expected to see, there was a big glowing 3:11! Still last place, but fourteen seconds faster than in practice! Upon closer observation, I saw that I hadn't gotten truly left behind, either - a couple of girls finished only a few seconds ahead of me. For once in my life, I was truly a hundred percent happy with that - just meeting a personal goal instead of 'succeeding' by others' standards - and that made me even more proud.
Anyway, like I said, I shaved a little time off my other three events, too, so it was a good meet. Our girls came in first, by a lot, and afterwards all the teams went out to Lake Wauberg and gorged ourselves on food, walked around the lake, played football, and checked out the climbing wall and victory tower for future trips. Aside from the weather being just a bit too windy for comfort, it was a really nice day.
The next question is, will I actually get up at six tomorrow morning and go do the sprint triathlon? The later it gets, the more I lean towards no, so I'd better go to bed.