Mid-February was pretty good timing for a meet for me. The Gophers were all away at Big Tens (B1G) in Ann Arbor so an ideal time to head up to Winnipeg instead of swimming on my own. Originally I was planning on going to Westerns in Winnipeg, then changed my mind and was headed to Montreal for Easterns but I re-changed my mind and went to Winnipeg. Geographically, I might be able to see the lights of Winnipeg from my apartment on a clear night as it’s the next big city north. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture. Minnesota 18-20 year olds sometimes head to Winnipeg for a weekend because the drinking age is only 18 compared to 21 here and Manitobans head to Minneapolis to shop at our mega mall and go to Beyonce concerts. It’s not really that far away.
History of me at Westerns
I remember trying to qualify for my first Westerns during the 2007-08 season and just missing at my last chance meet at UBC. Westerns were in Saskatchewan that year and another girl from my team made the cut that day and our whole team cheered her on from afar. I qualified the next year and my Kelowna coach at the time decided we were going to Etobicoke (Toronto) instead of Victoria because he lived in Ontario and it would be less expensive (he had a complicated living situation). I billeted with a Toronto swim family for the first two days then my dad came for the rest of the week and I moved to a hotel near the pool. The first day at the hotel I went down to the lobby to wait and decided to eat what I assumed was a free hotel breakfast buffet (aren’t they all free?) only to find out I had racked up about a 30 dollar breakfast bill. Fun times. The swimming went as you would expect for a first timer at a meet like this. I was the 2nd alternate in one of my races so I prepared all afternoon like I was supposed to and went back to the pool in case I had to race. They didn’t have age groupings back then and when the “B” final had 8 swimmers I figured my night was done. Then only 7 swimmers walked out for the “A” final so my coach had me approach the starter to let him know I was an alternate and was ready to go. Whoever was in charge seemed ok with letting me jump ahead of the 1st alternate and sent me to the empty lane block but the 8th swimmer appeared out of nowhere finishing my night. I would have gotten killed anyway.
I think Winnipeg is my favourite racing city and I wish we had more meets there. They have lots of volunteers who seem to really like hanging out at a pool for four days (probably 5 or 6) and treat the swimmers like they’re VIPs. I can’t really explain it but if you’ve never been to a swim meet on the prairies you need to do something about that because they take it to another level. When I was in grade 2 or 3 we had to learn all the provincial capitals and when it came to Manitoba I always drew a blank for some reason. With a test looming my dad was getting frustrated too and decided it would be easier to teach our big husky/lab dog to say Winnipeg. He’d hold a treat and say to the dog over and over again “what’s the capitol of Manitoba” and this crazy dog would howl something inaudible, but loud. This went on for a few days until my dad swore the dog really did come out with a “wwwwwwwinipeg”. More fun times.
I flew in from Minneapolis and Emil met me at the airport and we got all caught up on the drive to the pool. He seemed to be excited about being in Winnipeg too and we headed off to the pool. The racing went reasonably well with a couple of wins. I got killed in the 50 br, was completely nuked in the 100 fly and a bit wounded in the 100br. As far as I can tell, Westerns is a meet that attracts hundreds of hot shot Canadian teenagers and a few of us older types who aren’t in school looking for a good race. The usual teams seem to always produce the fastest swimmers but I was surprised how well Penticton and Red Deer did. Penticton is the next city south of Kelowna and I always thought they were all triathletes just looking for a way to kill time during winter. They finished 8th so whatever they’re doing down there seems to be working.
Not much else to report. I headed back to Minneapolis last Monday and will kick around here for a couple more weeks training with the Gophers as they get ready for NCAAs and I get ready for Trials in April. My next meet will be the BC open at UBC in early March then will focus on long course metre training in Kelowna instead of short course yards.