Ben Brophy

The National Swimathon

5000 meters, 4 swimmers per lane, quickest time wins.

The Swimathon is an indoor national event held every year, and this year I was keen to end my indoor training with a bang. I felt having this indoor race would help push me to keep training hard lap after lap after lap. The hardest thing I found this winter was after swimming in a nice big wide lake, coming back into a small, short, tight indoor pool. Where as I could do two laps in the lake I would have to do 150 lengths in the pool.  I was doing this 5/6 times a week minimum for about 2 hour slots. So having this race to aim for, which also happened to be the start of the open water season was great way to keep myself motivated.

Before the race I was unbelievably nervous! I knew the distance was fine, there was no problem there, however thoughts of a slow time and a low place started flying through my head. I have taken the decision not to use tumble turns which greatly help a indoor swimmers time, the reason being that I’m training for life in the outdoor lakes and would never use them. As I found myself in a indoor race I already felt that somehow I had a slight disadvantage to the other swimmers who where using the tumble turns. There were also high expectations, it was home ground the place I train at on a daily basis (although it felt very different), I had trained at this length many times, and local rivals from my training sessions were already impressing in their races.

I had also heard the news that one of the triathletes I train with had come 4th in his triathlon that weekend, and another was national champion for his age group in 2010! And then there was me… being in the most competitive age group I knew that this wouldn’t be realistic but, never the less, I had set a time to beat a week before of 1 hour 40 minutes. There were many questions being asked of myself if I was physically able to go that fast in a competitive environment.

A soon as I entered I switched into swim mode and tried to blank out the big crowds watching in the stand. When we started warming up it hit me that I was the away team in this race with a good size of the crowd cheering on their 3 swimmers. At first I was taken aback, but began to focus on the race before me. It was quite a strange almost a similar feeling to playing a away game of football.

When the race started I got a good push off and as I start to lift my head I noticed in my complete shock a swimmer swimming straight towards me! The other 3 swimmers had started in the wrong direction given out in the briefing (later confirmed). I had to brake and stop and turn to the other side to let them go by and I looked over to the referees to see if anything was to be done but no. So now switching to the new direction I looked to making up the time I’d lost. Quite quickly I found out that the other three in my lane were also a lot slower than myself and indeed the line below us. This caused a lot of problems and resulted in me having to waste a lot of energy and time getting pass them. I had to overtake as often as once every 8 lengths. The second fastest lane below us was keeping to a similar pace to myself but with the overtaking I was starting to loose energy quickly. Thankfully there became openings as time went on and I started to get use to all the overtaking.

I thought with everything going on that it would be impossible to hit my target of 1.40hrs. I knew that I was having a great swim but the traffic was really affecting me. I carried on pushing for the 150th length and finished in a few lengths at top speed with what ever energy I had left. As I got told I was done and I got out, the crowd was dead silent, there were no Team Brophy members or friends and family there and the rest appeared to be keen supporters of the other three swimmers. I was very confused I thought something had happened but then the referee came over and said what a great swim, well done, and awarded me my medal just as second place from the slower lane entered their last length. It was quite a awkward walk past the crowd but I spotted my friend Emily who had came to see my swim in the far stand, and as I walked past the life guards kindly congratulated me. The un-sporting team in the crowd no longer mattered as I have won my race and beaten my aimed time by 4 minutes to come in at 1 hour 36 minutes and had my medal around my neck!

Ben after the National Swimathon

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