Courtesy of Franco Pacheco
Swim meets are always fodder for some sort of folly or story. With many swimmers making a career of swimming for life, most of these moments are sure to have happened once to them or to someone they know. At the time, these little set-backs were the worst thing ever, looking back, it’s easy to find humor.
5. You show up to the wrong heat/lane.
I think all swimmers have seen some variation of this. Another swimmer is in your lane for your race coming up. You, of course, confront them to tell them that you will be swimming there, thanks very much, only to be told by the timer that you are in the wrong heat. Unfortunate? Yes. Survivable? Definitely. It just a matter of repositioning and getting the mind right again.
4. I left my suit at home.
This is a coach’s favorite as most teams provide a team suit. The suit design was probably labored over by a coach or a swim parent for more time than it should have been. With the best intentions, it was meant to represent the team and show a sense of belonging and pride. The swimmer, however, left it under his/her bed on the day of the meet in a rush because the line at Starbucks starts to form in ten minutes (its hip to beat the crowd). X amount of time later, the swimmer is now frantically asking the coach if there are any extras. This almost always ends up with a borrowed suit and, really, who wants to where someone else’s suit on their big day? If that isn’t an option, it’s now time to buy a new suit on deck, at meet prices, and who likes an unexpected expense tied to the day’s tab?
3. Where are my goggles?
I have personally experienced this one. I used to love tucking my goggles into the side of my drag suit after warm-up. It was a convenient place plus I am sure it looked super cool. However, at a national meet, I was walking back to my bag after the morning swim when I noticed my lucky goggles; the goggles I had worn for every meet of college, were gone. It was a panicked few minutes that were eventually remedied by a quick stop to the swim store for a new pair of lucky goggles (Thanks Dad). That being said, I never tucked my goggles into my drag suit again.
2. I missed warm-up.
From getting into a technical suit that is probably a size too small physically but just right to fit emotionally (I know I wore a size 24 as a sophomore) to a flat tire on the way to the meet, there are a thousand different reasons that a swimmer might miss the pre-meet warm up. For those of us dedicated to a schedule, this can ruin the flow of the entire meet plan. If only you had tried on your suit back on campus before leaving for the big meet. If you had just swerved around that stray soda can bouncing down the highway instead of hitting it a 80. Getting to a meet late is the perfect breeding ground for the ‘what if?’ and ‘now what!’ thought progression. Of course, meets are long enough that you can probably fit warm-up in three times over prior to your event and it is more than likely you will swim fine. But come on, you wanted the day to go exactly as planned.
1. I forgot my lucky *insert item* at home/on the bus/in the car.
This hasn’t happened to me but only because I am so incredibly superstitious I triple check my bag both the night before and morning of. However, in my first year of college coaching, one of my swimmers forgot his lucky Dale Earnhardt Jr. #8 pillow. It was his senior season and he had brought the pillow to every championship meet and now he was beside himself to the point of distraction. In order to stem this sad tide, I ordered him a new NASCAR pillow from Amazon and had it delivered to the hotel. Unfortunately, I got a NASCAR pillow from a different driver with a different number. As someone who has never watched NASCAR or followed the sport, I didn’t understand the gravity of the offense. Luckily, the entity of good fortune was satiated, he brought it to every session and had a great meet. It’s the little things it seems.
If any of these have happened to you, I am sure you can find the humor. If they haven’t happened yet, they probably will. So when they do, do your best to stay calm and drive on. As you can tell above, it is absolutely going to be alright.