I’ve just been watching some of the swimming finals in the Commonwealth games being held in Glasgow at the moment. When I was young I was quite sporty, very active, very fit, and my main sport was swimming; I could sort of swim when I was about eighteen months old, and have always loved the water and felt it is my element. I joined a swimming club when I was about seven, and that became not only where I trained and practiced and worked at my sport, but where I met all my friends. I went to an all-girls secondary school but most of my closest friends were boys from the club.
I was a back-stroker, and county champion but I never quite made it to representing my country; I had glandular fever at a crucial time, which not only kept me out of the pool but debilitated me for a year or so afterwards, so although I was good, I guess I was very good, I was just not quite good enough! I didn’t actually mind, I just loved swimming and diving (fancy dives off diving boards) and racing. I got all the medals and badges from the Amateur swimming Association, the governing body for the sport, and won every club championship for backstroke and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the whole thing….
Watching the swimmers today, the sport has changed tremendously. We were fit, swimming forty miles a week, doing weights and circuits, as well as all the cycling I did, but these guys swimming today are something else. The style of swimming is different, the way they turn, the way they dive in to start, their breathing, their strokes, their techniques… even their costumes… I wonder if I was their age and swimming now where I would be? I actually think I did better then, I think now I would find that I lack that competitive edge, and I think nerves would affect me too. I also wonder if maybe I enjoyed it more then than I would if I were a swimmer now…
Oh and by the way, I don’t swim any more… all those thousands of hours, thousands of miles… I think I’m bored with it now!