Blimey not only did Binge cover a fairly respectable 52400 metres in January but she also rather foolishly entered a swim meet (Carlisle Masters). I can’t remember the last time I swam in a Masters meet that wasn’t a championship event, and it must be almost 30 years since I’ve swam competitively in January;
but on a rather dank and cold Friday afternoon I found myself sneaking away from work early and wending my way cross country to swim an 800 freestyle!
On arrival the first hurdle I had to encounter was a warm up suit, I’d packed in a hurry that morning and in my rush to get out the house had left mine behind, but no problem the pool sold costumes so I acquired that ubiquitous women’s fashion item “the little black number “ well okay it was a rather ordinary plain Speedo endurance suit but it did the job and armed with the appropriate technology I prepared for battle.
I had been impressed with Dave Hemmings’ recommendations about starting at the Masters conference in November and as an old dog willing to try new tricks I was experimenting with that wedge thing at the back of the block a comparatively recent innovation which I have always previously ignored.
As we lined up for the 800 I discovered I was in a lane next to Billingham Coach Guy Fawkes, (and no I didn’t invent this character). Guy and I have a long history of competing in the same heat in distance events. I have vivid recollections of a 1500 at Sheffield in the dim and distant past when we swam in the same heat against each other.
Under starters orders and we’re off, for my first competitive test of the season not a brilliant start but better than my usual entry technique which consists of take your marks, beep….pause (let everyone else get into the water) and then flop in after them. Guy was obviously up for the challenge and I found myself immediately desperately hanging on to his feet.
An attempt to pass him at the halfway mark failed when I couldn’t put clear water between us and I was resigned to an underwater stream of invective as he reeled me in and went past me again. As we reached the last 75 metres was I possibly beginning to gain some ground? Mentally urging myself to keep the stroke long and then to kick, (oh that’s what your legs are for!) I started clawing back the gap between us centimetre by excruciating centimetre.
We hit the wall together with .02 of a second separating us, a great race! I was very pleasantly surprised to discover I’d swum 37 seconds quicker than I did at Sheffield last October, (amazing what a difference a bit of training makes).