Annamay Pierse was inducted into the Swim BC hall of fame last night in Whistler. I wish I was there to stand up and cheer along with everyone else then congratulate her in person. This short blog from a Minneapolis Starbucks will have to do.

With the release last week of qualifying times for next year’s long course world championships in Russia my reaction was somewhere in between a shoulder shrug and “meh”. 2:26.34 is as fast as we’ve ever seen but I know full well that if I swim 2:26.34 at trials next April I’ll be watching worlds from my couch in the comfort of basement scratching my dog’s tummy. Great Canadian breaststrokers from Ottenbrite to Van Oosten to Higson to Pierse to McCabe have been shrugging their shoulders and meh-ing at qualifying times since before I was born because “real” qualifying times have always been so much tougher.

It was both a blessing and a curse being a breaststroker in the Annamay generation because for as long as I can remember I had to stare at 2:20.12 on the top of every heat sheet at every swim meet I attended.

BC record Annamay Pierse 2:20.12
Canadian record Annamay Pierse 2:20.12
World record Annamay Pierse 2:20.12

I didn’t need to stick the number to my bathroom mirror to remind me because I saw it so often. When I would get a best time somewhere it was bittersweet because even though I would improve in small increments I’d still be 10, 15 or 20 seconds away from 2:20.12. ( I did have Allison Higson’s 2:27.27 cdn age group record on my mirror…..didn’t work though).

I’ll admit Annamay’s 2:20.12 has always been a target for me. There, I said it. Realistic or unrealistic I think it makes it a little easier that I was able to swim against her during her time, talk to her and have someone to look up to. 2:20.12 didn’t come from someone from Japan, America or Europe who I would likely never meet, it can from someone who I’ve stood beside who didn’t look all that much different than me, swam more or less in the same pools as me and stayed in the same Howard Johnsons as me. Having a 2:20.12 up there as a target likely played a large role in making all Canadian breaststrokers a bit faster somehow. Congratulations.

Kierra Smith
Minneapolis, MN

September 29, 2014