A Dip in the Pool

Posted: November 17, 2020 in Swimming
Tags: , ,

on your marks…

I’ve been avoiding doing a pool competition for as long as I can remember. I have an aversion to diving into water after an incident in Greece many years ago and I feel that my swimming prowess is not quite what is required to deal with a competition. Over the last year the club coach has been trying to persuade me to enter. I have wriggled out by throwing myself into the marshalling. I tried to use not diving as an excuse, but masters swimming events are not that fussed if you start in the water. I tried to use being inept at doing tumble turns as an excuse but far too many people pointed out that a lot of other people who did do these events couldn’t tumble turn either. Mainly, I feared being exposed. That one lane in a pool looked like a very lonely place were the eyes of the world can compare my inept splashing alongside people who could really swim. Over the weeks and months, he worked on me until the pressure was too much. I felt that the only way forward was to enter an event and prove to the world how bad I was. I decided on the long-distance event as that would counteract my complete lack of diving. Sprinting is not for me. I had hoped that it was going to be a long course event with a fifteen-hundred-meter event but COVID stamped on that and transformed it into short course event with the longest event being an eight hundred. I entered both the eight hundred and the two hundred freestyle. I was now committed, and it didn’t feel good. I now had to swim, that was not what I wanted.

I knew that I preferred a long slow warm up. I dipped into the warmup pool and started on an overly long and very slow warm up. I quite enjoyed just slowly splashing up and down, keeping one eye on the massive scoreboard that hung above it. My splashing got faster as the time rolled on. After about half an hour I felt that I was ready. I got out of the pool and headed to marshalling. I knew how this bit worked as I’d been in this marshalling area directing swimmers to the pool many times. It wasn’t long before I was led out to the side of the pool ready to start. This was the moment of truth and it was very likely that I was about to be found out.

I slipped into the water with the back strokers. I found that ironic as my backstroke is sketchy to say the least. I bobbed in the water waiting for the start and considering the ethics of having a quick pee in the pool. I didn’t have too long to think about it, the start gun went, and we were off. I was near the edge of the pool; on one side I had a very fast swimmer doing butterfly. I was very slightly faster than him.

I missed the first turn. The end of the pool was on a gantry so when I was looking down, I could only see water. I reached out for the wall and it wasn’t there. It was about half a meter a head. I felt a little bit silly about that. It preyed on my mind for the next lap. On the next attempt I missed it again, but this time by a little less. At least it was getting better. I hit the turn on the next attempt and felt good about it. From then on, I concentrated on hitting the turn each time. The unfortunate slide effect was that I lost count of which lap I was on. This isn’t normally a problem as I usually wear a lap counting watch. Unfortunately, this wasn’t allowed in this event. I knew that I’d swum a fair way, but I didn’t know how far it was to the end. The butterflyer in the next lane passed me. I hoped that was a sign of being near the end. Then I heard a whistle. I was confused. Was that the end or did I have more to go. I stopped. The timekeepers told me I had another lap. That was disappointing. I attempted to power through the last two lengths and reached the side in my favourite position: not last.

I felt that the two hundred should be easier as it was shorter. Again, I slipped into the water, confusing those around me who thought that I was doing backstroke. The start gun went, and I did an impression of powering off. My plan was to swim as fast as possible from the outset. This wasn’t a good plan, and the reason became obvious on the fifth length. I felt all the energy drain from my body. Every movement became an extreme effort. I felt like giving up but struggled through to the end. I looked up at my time. It was a lot faster that I’d expected but not as fast as it could have been. I had very mixed emotions about that.

I’d done it, a swimming gala, in a swimming pool, in warm water. I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I found it annoying and frustrating. I knew in my heart that I made mistakes and could have gone faster but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to have another go. My hope is that the coach will now stop the emotional blackmail and I can go back to doing what I enjoy. Swimming up and down in the anonymity of a crowd

104 jetty

Low water and a big swell in Horseshoe Bay

This was meant to be the glorious culmination of my towel-hunting odyssey, a wonderful swim in a lovely place to mark the end of a season long goal of being awarded a towel for participating in all the swims in the season. The reality was a little different. A message came through at about 10am to say that the swim was cancelled due to high winds. We decided to go to Horseshoe Bay anyway as we had arranged to meet friends that evening.

It was obvious why the swim was cancelled. The conditions were exciting. We toyed with the idea of going for a quick dip but we were seduced by the means of the offer of a drink to visit people form another swim club.

We went back to the bay the next day to swim. The conditions hadn’t improved that much and it made for a lively an interesting swim. At least the towel was in the bag. I just had to wait until November for it to be handed to me.

104 Bay

come on in the water’s fine

103 noar start

The start, looking out to the reef and the first bouy

I’d signed up for this swim before doing Rottnest Channel Swim as I’d had a suspicion that I probably wouldn’t do it otherwise. I was right. The deep-seated exhaustion of a long swim was still with me. If it weren’t for the towel, I probably would have stayed in bed. I took a long time to register as I dallied with the idea of doing the shorter distance. In the end, I registered for the longer distance as I feel that last minute changes are a pain for the organisers.

The course took us out to the reef and then ran parallel with it until the turning buoy. Those doing the shorter distance had a different colour buoy to turn round whilst the longer distance followed almost the full length of the reef. This made a delightful change to the usual swimming round in circles.

I lined up at the start with the others; I had no intention of a quick start or even being quick. My arms started aching the moment I started flailing them about in the water. I watched the start and then got on my way. Today was all about completing the distance, times and positions were immaterial.

103 noar course

A lovely stretch of water to have a swim in

I was surprised to find that I wasn’t last as I rounded the first buoy and into the wind. A small group around me seemed to be going at the same pace. Some of them were even sighting. I felt that it would be easier to follow them than trouble myself with the added complications of navigating. It was a plan that for the most part worked. I got a long way down the reef without going significantly off course. It fell apart when I started looking at the fish rather than the swimmers. There were many fish and some of them were quite colourful. None of them were going in the same direction as me and that required me to correct my course rather drastically.

It seemed like a long way to the turning buoy but I suspect that the wind had something to do with that. I certainly felt the push as I headed back to the start. My arms had accepted their fate by this point and had given up complaining. I took this as a good sign. I stared to notice different colour hats just after passing the other tuning buoys. They had stared ten minutes after me and done a shorter distance so by a process of simple maths I worked out that I wasn’t the slowest person in the water today.

I felt that I had fallen in with a small group of similar pace, all of whom were heading in a direct line to the last buoy. From almost nowhere a competitive urge kicked in. I had no idea where it came from, as it certainly wasn’t there at the beginning of the swim. I upped my stroke rate and pulled ahead. This suddenly presented me with a problem. I’d not really listened to the briefing so I didn’t know which side of the last buoy to pass. Getting it wrong would put my towel hunt in jeopardy. After a few moments of panic, I noticed that there were some swimmers between the buoy and me. All I had to do was watch them, this involved sighting far more often than I was comfortable.

Once the last buoy was out of the way, it was a simple matter of swimming to the shore. I finished satisfyingly low down the finishers list and almost last in my age group. That made me happy.

103 noarlunga team

A fine group of people to go swimming with

 

Last year I’d sat on a boat and acted as support as two friends had taken it in terms to do the crossing from Cottesloe to Rottnest. Last year I’d not been able to do the swim due to an accident that resulted in three broken ribs and a punctured lung. Last year I saw the spectacle and wanted to be part of it. This year was different. This year I’d entered, this year I’d not had a debilitating accident, this year I’d trained to the exclusion of other sports. This year I was going to do the crossing solo.

102 Me Greasedjpeg

Greased up and ready to go

The nerves started the day before. There is a mandatory briefing for competitors and as I sat there looking out to sea and pretending to pay attention the enormity of the task hit me. Out there in the distance I could see Rottnest Island and tomorrow I was going to swim there. The confidence I’d been feigning for the last week evaporated. For the first time in a while I started to doubt that it was possible. I left the briefing and swallowed down the negative thoughts. This was not the time for that sort of thing. This was the time to make sure that the team was ready and knew what they were doing. This was the time to hand out event merchandise to everyone who would be supporting me throughout the day. Once all that was done, I could then quietly panic by myself.

The day started early. I’d slept fitfully through the night and woken before the alarm. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and started the preparations. As with every morning it started with a cup of tea. Then I dived into the bathroom for the date night shave. I wanted a clean and smooth chin to minimise abrasion on my shoulders. I’d forgotten this aspect on a few of my longer training swims and ended up with two rough and red circles on my shoulders.

After seeing the boat crew off to the wharf I had a few minutes to spare before I needed to be on the beach. I filled the time by flicking through the television channels and flushing the nerves down the loo. It was a very long twenty minutes.

The beach was alive with people when I arrived. Swimmers were preparing, paddlers were getting into place and people were running back and forth doing important things that organises do. I joined the throng and went looking for my paddler so that I could give her my food and a watch.

I had a “greaser” on the beach to cover my lily-white skin in zinc. I was going to be out in the sea for a long time and the last thing I needed was sunburn. She covered all the exposed areas in a thick layer of white goo and then followed it by slathering Vaseline over anywhere that was likely to chaff. I was so well covered that some people wanted to take pictures.

There was about ten minutes to go when I wandered down to the beach edge to join the other swimmers in my wave. Some looked confident, some looked nervous but none of them looked as covered in zinc as me. I pulled on a black arm warmer. This was to help my paddler and boat find me. My plan for the start was to let those that want to rush off to do just that. I walked into the sea splashed some water over me and started swimming. I saw no point in trying to shave seconds when the event was going to last hours.

The first objective of the start was to find the paddler. The other reason for delivering food in person was to make sure I knew what she was wearing. I spotted her when I was halfway to the buoy that signified the point where swimmers join the paddlers. Others were not so lucky. They kept stopping to look round. This was particularly annoying when they did it in front of me. It was especially annoying when they did that just after steaming past me. I wove my way through the melee and joined my paddler. That was the first hurdle jumped, we were on our way.

The next milestone was to link up with the boat, we could not go beyond the sailing ship without the boat. We had a problem. They were looking for a blue kayak being paddled by someone in a red top. My paddler now had a purple kayak and was wearing a white top. We’d not had time to tell the boat of this change. We just hoped they would see the black arm and realise it was us. We saw the boat before they saw us. It took a bit of waving and shouting before they noticed us. It was a relief when they started heading our way. We could now set off across the channel.

The first sting was annoying, it was sharp enough to know that it was there but small enough to ignore. I’d not seen a jellyfish, so I wasn’t really expecting the sting. I’d hopped that the preceding waves of swimmers had pushed them out of the way. The next few stings were a little sharped but nothing to be alarmed about. I wasn’t happy about being stung on the lips. I had a momentary thought that if I was stung on the lips too many times that I would end up with a trout pout. I thought I’d got through the sting zone when I was hit full on the arm by one of these malevolent beasts. There was only one thing to do, swear, swear loudly and swear repeatedly. There were a lot of boats around me at the time. None were left in any doubt of my feelings on this particular matter.

102 from boat

The boat, the paddler and if you squint a swimmer to

I wasn’t sure when my shoulders started hurting but by the time I got to nine kilometres it felt like it had always been there. It was at the front, just where my chin would touch my arm and it was slowly getting worse. What started as a mild inconvenience became the totality of my world. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was hitting a low spot. I started to doubt whether I could actually complete the swim. I started to consider packing it in. All I had to do was swim over to the boat and slap the side. My internal monologue was going wild. One part of me was all about giving up, another part was all for swimming through the pain. The giving up side was winning the argument as it was aided by the rising pain levels. My distress must have been obvious from the boat, I was asked if I was alright, I told them I was sore, they asked if I needed pain killers, I gave a one-word answer, Yes. Two massive pain killers appeared on the paddle at the next feed. I had no hesitation in swallowing them down. Over the next fifteen minutes the pain went from dominating my world to a mild distraction.

I noticed that every now and again all the boats disappeared and then came back into view. The fact that I’d hit the mid channel current didn’t really hit me. I was just amazed at how my world view changed from seeing only sea though to seeing the entire event. I really was just living in the present.

Throughout my training I’d had one reoccurring thought, how to pee whilst swimming. I’d tried various techniques but none of them had worked. I just couldn’t reduce the size of a swelling bladder whilst swimming. I’d only taken a small swig of water at each feed stop but the inevitable had to happen. I had to stop and lower my trunks for some blessed relief. Once the flow started, I found that my legs were floating toward the surface. I didn’t want to stop by I didn’t want to be seen doing the fountain either. I’m sure that everyone in the boats around me knew exactly what I was doing.

102 the end

It’s not pretty, but it is the end

I got an amazing lift when my paddler pointed out the fourteen-kilometre buoy. Suddenly the end seemed achievable. It was the equivalent of swimming between the jetties and I’d done that most weeks. I felt a smile cross my lips, there was no way that I wasn’t going to finish. All I had to do was to keep going and I’d get there.

We had agreed beforehand that the paddler would give me a gel and a sip of water every forty minutes. I’d settled on this routine after trying it in training and as it is roughly equivalent to swimming two kilometres. I’d lost track of how many feeds I’d had so it was useless for working out where I was. During the last section I was convinced that the feeds were coming quicker and quicker. I didn’t register that it was because I was getting slower and slower.

The paddler left me with a kilometre to go. I could see the finish now, so it was just a case of plodding along on my usual zig zag course past the water cover and onto the beach. I stood up and the fatigue of swimming for over eight and a half hours hit me. I was empty, I needed food, I needed water. I got a big shiny medal and that made up for everything.

102 hat and medal

A big shiny medal and another swim hat for the collection

 

101 Henley Beach

The finish line under moody skies

I was meant to be tapering before the big swim but the towel-hunting mission also meant that I had to do this swim. I’d swum in these waters yesterday at about the same time, so I had a good idea that there would be a strong current and that would catch many people out. I felt that I could do well in this swim as I was on the tail end of a lot of training and my body was benefiting from the relative rest.

I’d not done this swim before so it was nice to do something different but as it was based in the stretch of sea that I do most of my swimming it wasn’t that different. The course was an oblong, swimming close to the beach on the way up and out in the deeper water on the way back. We started close to the jetty and went around and around.

Just before the start, someone had asked me about the current. I’d told them that coming back to the jetty would be the tough part of the course. I was wrong; the tide was going out so the current was running the other way. Despite all the obvious clues such as everyone drifting towards the jetty, I was still confused as to why the start was so hard. It seemed like I was trying to swim through treacle. I put a lot of effort in for very little gain. If this was meant to be the easy part the hard part is going to be, well, hard.

My error became clear when I turned toward the jetty and hurtled down the course. With the wind and current with me, I flew towards the jetty. I even overtook a few people. The star of the next lap was as hard as the first but at least this time I knew it was meant to be hard, this knowledge made all the difference.

I finished with two others who wanted to make a contest of it. They started sprinting to the shore. My impulse to do the same was massive but I held back. I’d damaged myself before by being over enthusiastic to get to the line. I didn’t want to put next week’s swim in jeopardy.

101 team HB

What a strange selection of people

100 MS Swim 01

The idea of the swim was for a team to log as many laps as possible in 24 hours. The minor restriction of only having one person in the water at any one time meant that the rest of us could have a rest and something to eat. The objective of the swim was to raise as much money for the MS Charity as we could, that was something we had to do outside of the pool.

The swim club entered a team and someone who was not me took on the task of scheduling people in for different time slots. This weekend was also meant to be my last long swim before I travelled out west for my attempt at the Rottnest swim. I wanted to check that I was comfortable with my feeding regime and that my body was still happy with swimming long distances. I told our team captain that I was more than happy to swim for many hours and what’s more, I would enjoy doing it through the night. I know that no one likes getting up in the middle of the night to go for a swim. She instantly scheduled me to swim between midnight and five in the morning. That made us both happy.

100 MS Swim 02

We turned a long time before my start time, as I wanted to make sure that I was ready for the swim. I’d spent most of the day doing a lot of very little and I had intended to do the same until the start of my session. I found our club tent and laid on the air mattress. I didn’t think that I’d slept but the time went past very quickly. The pizza’s arrived at about quarter past eleven. I knew that I would regret eating one but that has never stopped me being silly about this sort of thing before. I devoured a whole small pizza in very little time. I was hungry.

I started just after midnight. My plan was to swim 40 lengths and then stop for a minute to take a gel and a sip of water. I placed my selection of gels by the side of the pool, which raised a few eyebrows. As ever the swim to the first break seemed to take forever. It wasn’t helped by the little cheese and pepperoni burbs that was all that remained of the little pizza.

100 MS Swim 03

I’d bought a whole selection of gels from a bike shop. One of the objectives of the swim was to work out which ones I liked. In a previous long swim, I’d eliminated a number of flavours because they contained apple and were therefore disgusting. I’d also go a selection of brands so that I had a choice of consistency. Each session started with the taste of the last gel in my mouth, this was lovely if I liked it but annoying if it wasn’t. Somewhere in the middle of the session, the taste would be replaced by the lingering taste of cheese and pepperoni. That pizza lingered for a long longer than was desirable. When I was about five or so lengths from the end of the session, I started looking forward to the next taste test, hoping that it would get rid of the reoccurring pizza taste.

100 MS Swim 04

I was relieved from swimming duties after seven sessions. I’d enjoyed swimming through the night and I felt good. I could have quite happily swum for another hour or so. I thought that I would feel the weight of the swim when I left the pool but that never happened. I sat for a while, counted lengths and chatted with people. I felt surprisingly awake. The smell of bacon coming from the BBQ may have been responsible for this. I had a massage after breakfast and fell asleep on the table.

100 MS Swim 05

99 jetty jetty 01

Setting up for the finish

Today’s event was in the waters I know well, I’ve been swimming between the jetties for quite a while now and sometimes more than once. On one hand, it seemed a little silly to fork out some cash to do a swim that I do frequently and alone with hundreds of others, on the other this was yet another episode in my towel-hunting odyssey so it had to be done.

I’d recently bought a new pair of googles. These were special open water goggles and not the kind I usually wear. I’d bought them for my impending big swim as I felt I should have a nice, comfortable and reliable pair of googles. This had all been brought about by a painful experience with an ill-fitting pair of goggles a few weeks ago, that had left me bruised and sore. I’d bought them immediately after this experience with the idea of getting my face used to wearing them. They had been fine for the first few swims but then they had started leaking. Always the left side leaked. It would slowly fill with enough water to notice but not to do anything about. Then, all of a sudden it would fill up and cause a lot of stinging. At this point, I would have to take them off and empty them. This then heralded free reign on both sides to leak. I hoped that this would only be for the “running in” period. After a while, it seemed like they had stopped leaking; only they hadn’t. They were just lulling me into a false sense of security in preparation for washing my eyes with more salt water. This swim was their last chance. If they leaked on the journey to Henley Jetty, they would be consigned to the bin.

We started the swim in age group waves; I wasn’t old enough for the first but easily qualified for the second. I waded out into the water with all the other green hats and bobbed away at the start waiting for the hooter to signal us to swim. I’d injured myself a few weeks ago by attempting to learn how to swim butterfly. This had resulted in a pulled muscle. I’d pulled back on the training for a couple of weeks in the hope that if I ignored it, it would go away. Overall, this approach had been reasonably successful, as my arm had stopped hurting. This swim was the first real test. I would not be happy if I finished with a sore arm. I decided that it would be silly to get involved in the start melee. I hung back a bit to let the people who wanted to fight go ahead before taking the course wide to avoid the possibility of contact. I could have been accused of being over cautious but I had a bigger picture in mind.

I had a very pleasant swim down the beach. It was lovely to have many familiar markers on the beach that I could use to monitor my pace and know where I was. Having the end of the jetty to sight on was another lovely feature. It was high up and very obvious from any point on the course, unlike the yellow and pink buoys that have a remarkable tendency to become invisible the moment I get into the water. I was close to the Jetty when the trouble started. Instead of the slow filling, the left side of my goggle suddenly filled. I tried swimming with one eye closed but that wasn’t really a viable option. I had to stop and empty them; many people swam past whilst I did that.

I rounded the Jetty and saw the finish line no more than fifty meters ahead. Then I didn’t. The goggles had filled with water again. I closed my eyes and hoped I was heading for the finish. It then dawned on me that my ability to swim in a straight line was limited and I was probably going to miss the finish arch. I stopped no more than twenty meters from the finish to empty the goggles again. Many people swam past. At least I had a chance to reset my route and swim under the in water arch.

99 jetty jetty 02

The team that took all the prizes

On the plus side my arm didn’t hurt, I used that arm to throw the goggles in the bin.

98 state champs 1

A lovely Day to put buoys in the sea

Last week I’d completed a long swim and next week I had a long swim planned so the thought of doing a short swim this week was quite appealing. The fact that I could be dubbed a state champion if I won my age group (which would only be possible if a lot of people didn’t turn up) and that this was the next swim in my towel hunting odyssey made this a must do swim. It made up for the fact that it was a very boring course that required swimming around a set of oblong buoys.

I lined up at the start and realised quite quickly that I would not be troubling any podiums today. This wasn’t really a surprise but one day it would be nice to have a chance of being at the pointy end of the field. I decided that I should employ my usual tactics of just having a nice swim in the company of others.

It was about halfway round the second lap that I remembered my swimming club’s coach’s exhalations for me to up my stroke rate. My normal stroke rate is slow, slow enough to have to use a calendar to measure it. He had suggested that I might go a little faster if my arms went round a little faster. I could see the logic but it never felt that comfortable. I thought I’d give it a go in the dying embers of the event. Unsurprisingly, I ended up going faster and overtaking a few people.

In the post event chat with the coach, the one where he starts telling you how well you did before pulling every facet of the event apart, he mentioned that he saw someone out there with almost exactly the same stroke as me but with a much higher stroke rate. He suggested that I should try to emulate that. He also said that he lost sight of me in the last quarter of the race.

I still didn’t win a prize.

98 State Champs 2

Some of these people won prizes

97 pub to pub 1

Brighton Jetty and the end of the Pub to Pub

The pub to pub is a handicapped race. The organisers have a good idea how fast (or slow) the regular swimmers are going and give them a start time accordingly. We all stood in the rain playing the game of “my handicap is so wrong” in the hope that it will magically change and give a sporting advantage. None of this helps change the handicap and it’s taken as rote that the larger the handicap the more the person complains.

This was the second swim in my towel-hunting odyssey and the only one where I had a vague chance of coming first (although not win). My hopes of winning were dashed when I saw my handicap. I was two minutes behind someone who swims one and a half minutes slower than I do over this distance. It was obvious to me that the only goal I could have was to get to the end before the same people in the same wave. I knew some of them and knew that even this was unlikely.

97 pub to pub 2

A statue of the last swimmer to be taken by a shark in the metro waters

There were only three others in my wave and that made the start a more refined affair, we walked quickly to the water’s edge waded into until the water was deep enough to swim and then started swimming. We didn’t even clash as we went round the first buoy. That made the whole thing a lot more civilised.

The thing about a handicap is that everyone should arrive at the finish at roughly the same time. In theory, this means that no one should come past and I shouldn’t pass anyone until very close to the end. In practice, it means swimming as fast as you can to catch the people in front and not be caught. It made me happy that I started to catch people before anyone came past. My zig zag path meant that I didn’t see that many people passing me.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t come first or even in the top ten. I did finish just behind the person who finished two minutes ahead of me and in front of everyone who started in my wave. I call that a win.

I was now another swim closer to the towel.

97 Pub to Pub 3

a random selection of swimmers sheltering from the rain and complaining about their handicap time

96 proclaimation day

Glenelg Jetty, before the trappings of a swim even appear

I had been vaguely aware that there were prizes on offer for the completion of the local open water swim series. I’d see the towels awarded at the last branch dinner and thought that earning one of those embroidered towels could be my goal for this open-water swimming season. Not the main goal but a nice season long secondary goal to keep my interest going. The first race in the series was cancelled due to trivial things like the water being a tad too cold and the waves being too high so the Proclamation day swim was the start of my towel campaign.

I’d decided to do the 5k version of the race mainly because that’s what I usually do. I could have opted for the 1 or 2km option and made my life easy. The length of the swim didn’t matter for the purposes of the towel, participation was key. There was also the minor consideration that I was training for a long swim so I needed the time in the water and that I always go for the longest distance as I feel that I’m getting my money’s worth.

The start was the usual chaos; I deployed my usual tactic of sitting behind the fast people and starting a few seconds later. My hope is always that they would set off at a pace that I have no hope of matching giving me some clear water and an easy start. The hope never becomes a reality. I was surrounded by churning water as everybody seemed to converge onto the same point. It took a few minutes for the field to thin out enough to have the peace and tranquillity of some open space.

As I rounded the buoy at the far end and noticed a dead crab laying on the bottom. I have no idea why I noticed it. The thought as taken away as I turned the next buoy and headed back to the jetty. The current kicked in and suddenly I found the swimming very easy. I put it down to my superior fitness and training. I noticed the crab on the next lap too.

I was overtaken on the third lap. I wouldn’t have minded if it was someone from the shorter distances, they are meant to be quicker, but it wasn’t. They wore the same cap colour as me. It would have been easier on my ego if it had been the fourth lap.

There were two pink buoys in the middle of the course that marked the line. It would have helped my cause if I had sighted the correct buoy. I only noticed my error when I looked up and found I was between both buoys. I put it down to being unsettled by being passed by the winner rather earlier than I expected. I’m sure that the dead crab was laughing at me.

I didn’t see the dead crab on the last lap because I had my sights on a fellow swimmer, and they were wearing the same colour cap as me. They were about ten meters ahead and I was closing. This made me feel good. I upped the stroke rate and slowly pulled up to them. I was in front by half way to the jetty. Then it occurred to me that they might put in a burst of speed so I was under obligation to keep the pace up. It wouldn’t be good to put all that effort only to be overtaken on the line. I looked back as I finished, he was a very long way behind, I’d been racing my imagination.