My day began at about 0500hrs as my nerves were just eating me alive. I had hardly slept a wink as thoughts of false starts, coming last and making a total fool of myself flooded my every thought. Eating breakfast was the farthest thing from my mind yet I knew I had to stomach atleast two WeetBix in order to stop the waves of nausea becoming all too consuming.
I had my bags packed the night before but that didn't stop me from checking it for the one millionth time. Goggles, check. Cap, check. Swimmers, check. Courage - oh bugger, where is it? I know I had packed it too. Maybe I had put it somewhere for safe keeping and when the time was right I would find it.
I travelled to the pool on my own that morning, feeling that I needed to be at one with my thoughts. I couldn't bear the thought of trying to figure out what I needed to do with my children when I had enough trouble trying to keep my own thoughts straight. Luckily, I have the most understanding husband and he knew how important this was for me.
Arrival at the pool was about 4 hrs before my race, but I didn't care. I was able to relax and feel totally inspired but all those competitors who were still swimming and competing at the tender age of 100+. What was I afraid of? These competitors motivation and drive to continue being the best they could be made my search for "courage" come to an end. I had found it. What was I going to lose? Nothing, when I had already gained so much. I got my life back, competing here was just the icing on the cake.
Barry turned up not long after me and we spent some good quality time just chit chatting about things. About how far I had come, all the things I had accomplished and how proud he was of me. That meant so much. He too had gone on this journey with me and I guess he was feeling the nerves too. This swim was going to be a testament of not only my strength and determination but also his patience and willingness to get me to my goal as well.
As I looked around and found myself surrounded by my family and friends an hour later, I realised how lucky I was to be blessed with all of them. They stuck by me when at times all I wanted to do was run away screaming. I am sure I wasn't the easiest person to live with.
The time came for the marshalling of my race. Barry handed me a letter and told me to read it when I got down there. I gave my kids, husband and mum a big ole kiss and made my way down. With every step I made closer to the marshalling area the louder and faster my heartbeat resonated in my ears. I could hardly hear the swooshing of the pool and conversations being held around me. It was just incoherent mumbles.
I got my name marked off and set out to read my letter. Barry is not a man of many words but this letter brought a flood of tears to my eyes. It made me realise that he had more faith in me than I did. He knew I could do this, and after reading it I knew I could too.
The actual race itself went by quite quickly. One minute I was in the water getting ready to take my starting position and before I knew it I was at the other end looking up at the time board. At first it didn't register, when I looked to my left I saw only one other person at the end with me, and then it all hit. My race was the fastest heat. I came in at 34.15 seconds. If the screen said I had come second in my heat that meant I had come second overall. OMG, I came second. I couldnt believe it. I was second for my age group in the entire Masters in the world. I felt like I had won the Olympics. Well, this was the closest I would ever come, I was on top of the world.
Finally my hearing came back and I could hear my children, husband, mum, Barry, friends screaming out how proud they were of me. I was so happy, ecstatic, overwhelmed. I was not able to wipe the smile from my face for hours. So I went home, had a nice dinner and a glass of red and relished in the joy of having accomplished a Silver Medal for my first race. But, the job was not done. I still had the 50m Freestyle. I knew it would be harder as this is the race that everyone wants to compete in.
My aim was to hit sub 30 seconds. Was this possible, "NO", but I got close. 30.83 was my time. Was I still proud of my achievement "YES". What I had overcome in the last 9 weeks of training had proven to me that anything was possible. Now whenever I thought to myself "I can't do this", my retort back would be "Of course you can".