The last time I swam a gala was when I was about 16 / 17 years old when I was in high school in South Africa. St Albans Masters were short some swimmers for their Aylesbury gala, so I manned up and offered to swim in the gala.
My goodness what an experience!!!
I was chosen to do breaststroke and butterfly. Another step out of my comfort zone. I am a passionate front crawl swimmer through and through. I get excited thinking about the stroke and absolutely love teaching it. The actual breaststroke has changed quite a bit and you can definitely see I learnt breaststroke in the stone ages, that huge wedge kick can’t be missed. Anyway, it will just have to do. There was no way I was going to go and have a stroke transformation 15 minutes before the gala. The next blow was, I was asked to swim butterfly. I did a length in a relay and I can honestly say it was a super laugh and we didn’t do too badly.
Before I even arrived for the gala, I had to do the massive shave, no wetsuit to hide behind or the joys of the unclear lake waters. Checked the swim costume to make sure there were no faded see through patches. It has happened to me before when I swam in Connecticut and someone actually came and kindly told me it’s time to get another swim costume. Walking around on the pool deck with a swim costume is standard practice, no lovely lake water to hide in!!!. It seems strange about being conscious about your body on pool side but in the open water it never crosses my mind. The feeling of swim nerves and costume insecurities flooded back. I coped and managed to leave the towel behind.
Your team gets a lane and does a mini warm up before the official start of the event, which I thought was ever so professional. This is serious business!!! At least the little swim settled some of the nerves.
Right, next obstacle was the diving blocks!!! I felt like the little kids I teach and needed a gentleman’s hand to hoist me up. Also, lots of officials walking around in white clothing with pens and paper, nerves were seriously intensified. I kept thinking in my head don’t belly flop and definitely don’t leave the block too early and get disqualified. That would be really embarrassing.
Needless to say, I got into the rhythm, and no major catastrophes. The swimming costume and goggles stayed on for the dives.
The gala went smoothly, I swam my heart out. It felt good to sprint for 25m flat out as opposed to the open water where the long-distance pacing is key.
The feeling of excitement, breaststroke dread and swim costume insecurities, while attending the swimming gala to represent St Albans Masters are very real and felt by so many other people. This is what I can imagine some swimmers feel like when they have to step out of their comfort zone and try out a new swim class or experience the open water for the first time. It really is good for us to be challenged and those swim costume insecurities are all in our heads and no one actually takes any notice of you in a costume.
I know every swimmer attending one of my pool2lake sessions are part of friendly bunch of swimmers . There is so much faffing, bag juggling, chit chat people are more worried about themselves. I love the THIS GIRL CAN campaign as they encourage woman and girls to get moving and feeling better. Positive action creates positive change.
Get a new swimming costume and a pair of goggles, step out of your comfort zone and try open water swimming. You certainly won’t regret it. You will never leave the pool or lake in a bad mood!!!
Swimming Costume options:
Deakin and Blue - Size 8-20