About a week or two ago Kelly and I went back and forth on whether or not I should enter the 200 IM in Greensboro on day 1 of the NCAA championships. The argument against entering was that it might affect my 100 br split on the 4 x 100 medley relay that morning and wear me down a bit before the 200br on day 3. The argument for entering was that it could help me stay a bit more in shape since we were still 13 days away from Canadian trials. He left it up to me and said he would enter me in the race but scratching could be a game day decision. He has a pretty good poker face but I’m usually pretty good at decoding his non-verbal clues. This time I couldn’t tell which way he was leaning. He knows NCAAs and Trials are important to me and I knew both meets are important to him. I decided to enter the IM at the last minute after trying to reach Emil back home. Emil didn’t answer his phone so I had to figure out what he would say if he were here. In this make believe conversation I had with my Canadian coach (I have these a lot) I pictured him saying (use thick Bulgarian accent here) “What would Katinka Hosszu do (he always uses European examples)? Of course she would swim! Then she would go for 100 kilometre bike ride after”. I finished in about 25th place with a best time. Almost snuck into “B” final. It was a good check for the 3rd 50 of my 200y breast. Freestyle and Fly were above average and backstroke less hideous than usual.
Day 2. When I was 11 or 12 my club team, Kelowna Aquajets, would always travel to Kamloops BC to kick off the long course season. My coach liked this meet because a swimmer from Lethbridge Alberta, Rachel Nichol who now swims for SMU, always competed there and he wanted me to watch how she raced. He made me watch how she warmed up, prepared, walked to the blocks, didn’t look side to side during the race and she always seemed to win. Fast forward 10 years later and here the two of us were in lanes 7 and 8 in the final of NCAAs. I wish I had a 2005 Kamloops podium picture to share but it was cool being on the same podium as her getting our All American trophies together.
Day 3. I was surprised how emotional I was winning the 200m breaststroke. Three years ago I didn’t know what the NCAA championships were, couldn’t find Minnesota on a map and had never swum a lap in a yards pool. When I looked at Kelly after winning Saturday night I remembered all those meetings in his office crying (me, not him) saying I wanted to go home to Canada. Today. Now. and how he kept reeling me back in with his stories of other athletes who had gone through what I was going through. This was the happy end to that tough chapter. There was a lot of pressure before that race. I was the no. 1 seed and 1st after prelims and I’ve ever been the one to beat at this level. I know I could have handled losing, Lord knows I’m used to it, but as corny as this will sound I wanted to win this for my team. In the past when I’ve read about or heard other swimmers say similar things about their teams I’ve always rolled my eyes but that’s how I felt. Our meet started poorly on the way to Greensboro when our leader Kiera Janzen had to scratch at the last minute after a medical incident in the Minneapolis airport. Don’t go getting your calculators figuring out how many points she would have scored for us because her impact goes way beyond points. Before Big 10s when we lost all four relays in a dual meet at NC State she was the one who let us know that it wasn’t a big deal. Kelly didn’t appear worried after NC State but when these sorts of things happen (we never lose dual meets) during the year you gaze your eyes towards your leader to see if we should be pressing the panic button. When she showed up to watch and cheer with us on Day 1 it was a huge emotional lift for everyone having her there. These events are a team effort because every swimmer stands and cheers each and every swimmer on the team. We’re focused on every stroke of every heat and share each other’s joy and pain. We know what we’ve all been through together and I’m glad I could help tie a nice little bow on what turned out to be a pretty good season for us this year.
Thanks for all the well wishes this past week from Minnesota and Canada. It meant a lot knowing how many people were following and cheering and I wish we could have one big group hug together somewhere.
I’m off to Kelowna where hopefully switching to 50 metre from 25 yard pools only takes a day or two to figure out.
March 24, 2015