August 12, 2014

The Rest of The Story

97-year old Katherine Johnstone
Going to the World Masters Swimming Championships last week was quite an experience. A life experience. An epic experience. After having painted a ceiling ten days before departing, I arrived in Montreal in far less than tip top shape. My lower back had started to ache before getting on the train, and the ride to Montreal, coupled with racing the 50 meter butterfly the day before my main event, exasperated my condition.

I awoke at 5:30 AM the morning of my event ( the 50 meter free)  with a locked pelvis, in considerable pain, and in a panic.

Devastated that this was happening, the only thing that I had to grab onto was something that I remembered 46-year-old Olympian swimmer Dara Torres writing in her book:

"You don't need to feel well to swim well."

This, and my sister's reminder a few days before to "remain zen".

These two things, thankfully, helped to pull me out of the emotional gutter.

So I popped some ibuprofen, gathered a game plan, and decided to do a very careful start off the starting block, so as to not make my pain any worse, and use my upper body strength to swim like hell!

Low and behold it worked. I miraculously matched my best master's time ever and finished in 6th place. It was sheer will power.

By the time the race results were posted in the early afternoon, I was able to see a chiropractor who magically popped my back into place and out of pain.

But enough about me, the best story I have to share is about someone else:

When we arrived the first day at the swimming complex, I immediately spotted someone in the crowd who I thought was 97-year-old New Zealander, Katherine Johnstone, who had come to swim and claim her gold medals. Like stalkers, Cindy and I followed her and her daughter into the locker room. While Katherine was in the dressing room changing out of her bathing suit, I confirmed with her daughter that it was her. Honestly, for me, it was like waiting to meet someone like Meryl Streep. She was so gracious and happy to pose for a picture with us afterward. It was lunch time, and she had already been interviewed by others, so I didn't want to be too pushy questioning her. Plus I was feeling a little shy. I did say, however, that I thought she was quite a marvel, to which she replied, "I really am not- I am just doing what I like to do."

I'll say!

The other great news is that Cindy, my swim mate since 5th grade and shrink :-), took a whole second off her 50 meter free race. In a short sprint race, a second is like an eternity. I was so proud very of her too.

More info on master's swimming, should you be interested, can be found here. Master's swimming isn't just for racing. There are many people on my team who swim just for fitness and really enjoy it too.

And a great little clip on Katherine (at age 92) below!