Last Place Isn’t Bad When You’re Having Fun

I did something today that I haven’t done in a while. I went to a swim meet, swam five events, and finished last in all five events.

It’s been close to two years since my last United States Masters Swimming (usms.org) meet. I’ve done some senior (50-and-over) meets, but nothing that included all age groups and in a situation that’s as far over my head competitively as the deep end of the pool.

That said, I had a great time anyway. It was a new venue for everyone, because the pool was just built. It was a fundraiser for a high school swim team, making it a good cause. It was a short meet, about two-and-a-half hours. And while I arrived alone, with no other members of my team in attendance, I was “adopted” for the day by another team, so I felt included.

In case you’ve never done it, finishing last sucks when it’s a chronic habit. I admit I was no athlete as a child, and growing older and wiser has not improved my prowess on any field of play. I was ignored and overlooked for team sports in school; I was the classic last one picked for everything. The passage of time has changed the sports venues; I choose them now, and they are mostly solo pursuits, so no one can judge and no one gets to decide if I play or not.

English: A breaststroke swimmer, in a hotel sw...

English: A breaststroke swimmer, in a hotel swimming pool at Brixham, Devon, England. Taken by Adrian Pingstone in July 2003 and released to the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But swimming is a solo sport only up to a point. If you want to meet other swimmers, really test yourself and learn new techniques, one of the best ways to do that is to attend meets. And you go and you race the clock and the swimmers in the adjoining lanes, and between heats you’re agonizing over meet times, talking about the newest tech suits or workout gear. And if you’re me, you’re also sitting back and enjoying the scenery, because times and tech suits and toys take second place to being back in the swim, even if I cannot quite keep up.

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