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Inside Me: There's something wrong

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Mar 27, 2018
I enter a somewhat reflective mood… I may have accidentally rediscovered, what seems now like everyone else already knew.


Four weeks before the competition I decided maybe I should prepare a little. I’m pretty sure it took another week or so for me to actually get to the pool. I did some training in the pool, nothing that arduous you understand, just enough to make me feel like I had done something… In total I don’t think I did any more than half a kilometre in a single session.

Now, I knew I hadn’t prepared properly but I’d done pretty well last time without serious training before hand and this time wasn’t going to be any different right? Except I did have a fear and that was getting cramp. So I worked my legs, hardish, once.

Friday night and my legs are still busted. At least that’s what I thought. I certainly remember them not being fully recovered. But I am not sure I can trust my mind any more. In fact I think my mind is the enemy within. Saturday comes around and I am in good spirits. As time goes on however that feeling of not being fully recovered changed into something more insidious.

After initial registration (document check) and a safety brief/site orientation athletes are required only to alert the organisers/judges 1 hour before their “official top” (event start time) which for me was a good few hours away. Plenty of time to relax and prepare. Plenty of time to stretch and do all those other pre-dive whatnots. Plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere and plenty of time for doubt.

That 1 hour came around eventually of course as it always does and with it came the first mistake. I’d been so blasé about the whole thing I had “forgotten” to get my swim shorts on. I ware a pair of swimming shorts under my suit for comfort and typically you’re not supposed to leave the poolside for anything other than the loo during that hour before your official top. I couldn’t even keep track on normal procedure.

So I did some stretches and lay on my mat thinking I was relaxed. I only noticed as I began to write this and focused (wow when did I forget how to do that) on what was going through my mind that I had, what some call the “monkey mind”. My inner monologue was jumping around like a hyper-kinetic rabbit (a bit fluffier than a monkey so suits me better). The one thing I do remember was the seemingly relaxing thought “Well my legs are still tired so I probably wont get that far..” Except that thought was ultimately what was going to doom me before the real fight had even begun and that it was anything but relaxing.

Five minutes before my official top and I’m in position in the water resting on a stool that’s awkward to balance on. I can’t help thinking that it was like the stools we used to sit on in chemistry class back in high school.

I look forward through my forever foggy scratched all over because you don’t look after them goggles at the safety divers ahead of me. They must be cold, I’d be cold and bored. Who would volunteer to safety for hours on end when they could be competing?

I hear a conversation behind me… Something about 120 meters… Yeah that’s me their talking about. A part of me is glad they mistook me for someone else. I realise they could be talking about anyone and that my dive doesn’t really matter.

“2 minutes” - The call from the lovely lady over the PA system (she’s drop dead digital dynamite gorgeous). Here we are again… I wonder when the pain will start this time, will it be like the last time I did this at the previous competition? Naw its going to come early and hard and its going to be horrific because your legs are still tired from that one session you did in a panic because you didn't prepare properly…

I'd better relax, not a lot of time left…

“1 minute thirty”

Oh shit, how do I relax again? Breathe, yeah you breathe in long and out longer… try to slow the heart down before submersion. I look down at the water, at the reflections. I look through them at the tiles below. I see nothing. The demon inside my head has started to rattle its paper cage.

“1 minute”

I only have time for a couple more breaths before my final set… It feels a little strained, I’m trying too hard to get the timing right its not natural. Its forced, unfamiliar and broken.

“30 seconds”

Well you were never going to set a new pb with tired legs…



“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, official top...”

Oh… I’m under… swim…arms up… get streamlined… control kicks… look for the turn...

I’m off balance and after a few fin strokes it feels like the pool edge is near, Its not.

Oh yeah its a fifty meter pool dumb ass. Which means less turns, which means less work yay…

Less turns means more leg work per meter though and your legs are already tired so your not going to do better your going to do worse and you should save your legs anyway for tomorrow for the dynamic no fins event which you know you'll do better at because you like it and everyone knows you do better at that which you enjoy nobody expects anything from you just come up you don't need to try hard you just need to try hard enough put on a show to make it look like something's wrong with your legs, it probably is anyway right? Can you feel it? There it is, you have cramp ha ha! there's your excuse you got cramp after all oh well its game over now buddy…

But wait, what about the safety divers? They can see you pretty clearly what if they think that this measly distance is all your capable of? I can’t allow that so what shall I do? I know what will look good, lets stop using my legs and do a couple of arm strokes… yeah that's better now it looks like I’m a fighter whoop whoop. OK that's far enough… your legs are tired and once you come up you can chill out and go eat something you’re so hungry…

“Breathe! Breathe!… Nose clip...”

Yeah I know, but take it slow. Wait for the prompt and accentuate every movement. Eyes search through the drip haze at the four people staring at me as I take off my goggles and nose clip… and my mind starts the replay at a hyper-kinetic pace forwards, backwards and every other which way… What the proverbial actually happened there?...

...Legs were knackered buddy”

No, they weren't.
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