Last week I won an informal race against my friend Stephon doing the 100m IM after our water polo match. He is going back to his home country of Germany today and last night after our last game of water polo he challenged me to a rematch, only this time we would swim something a little longer—the 800m freestyle.
It’s no secret that I am not a long distance swimmer. However, I let my confidence in combination with my unbridled enthusiasm get the best of me and agreed to the race. I figured that if I could average 45 seconds every two lengths (or 100’s on 1:30) I’d be fine.
I loaded up a nice foot long pizza sub from Subway just before the race. I wanted to have plenty of energy for the longest race I’ve ever done. (Well that’s not true, I’ve done longer timed events but never anything that I considered a race against anyone else but myself) As I was sitting there, eating my lunch, I ran into one of the lifeguards who swims quite a bit and told her about the upcoming event. When I explained my plan to do 100’s on 1:30, she warned me that Stephon was pretty fast and that when she swims with him, he does them on 1:25 and that wasn’t even at race pace. Hmmm, this might be a little trickier than I had anticipated.
I actually paced myself pretty well, but towards the end, I could feel that pizza sub wanting to have an unwelcome reunion. Almost needless to say, Stephen really showed me up in the 800m Freestyle. I didn’t even make my goal time of 12:00, but if I had, it wouldn’t even have been enough.
Now the score was 1 – 1. We needed to have the rubber match to determine a true and final winner between Germany and Canada.
“50 Free?”, I pondered. He knew I am a sprinter through and through but he put into consideration that I was quite tired. He agreed, and I just hoped I had enough left in me to still get up to top speed.
It’s not an exaggeration to say I was extremely tired as I prepared for our final showdown, but there’s something magical that happens in the sprint. Getting up on the blocks, preparing for the lightning round, it’s as if my body forgets its limitations and I an unseen power takes over. I don’t know what it is, but when it comes to the sprint I can’t help but swim at 100%. Despite how tired I was, I was excited for the rematch. The moment I dove in I could feel the shortage of blood in my head. I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake as tiny shooting stars streaked across the pool floor. Was I going to pass out in the middle of the pool? I certainly wasn’t going to slow down to find out.
I raced into the first turn and whipped out of it as fast as I ever do. I could see Stephen just crossing under the flags. Though light headed I pressed on pulling and kicking just as fast as ever. It felt like a new record for me, and in the end, it was a solid victory for me. Stephen is a fast swimmer, when it comes to distance, but he’s no match for my sprinting, even when I am on death’s door with fatigue.
So victory goes to the Canadian! :) But as a parting gift I gave Stephon my U of L Horns swim cap. Tonight while he’s flying home to Germany, I’m going to sleep like a baby.