Friday May 12 2006
Friday was spent doing much of the same things as Thursday. We rose early to have a hearty breakfast and then took the bus to go explore the down town some more. We found a statue of a water spirit that was alleged to have harrassed people during foggy nights and a plaque dedicated to Canadian soldiers that liberated Belgium during World War 2. It was pretty humbling to see that dedication. We were standing on top of a peer that over looked the ocean and just happened to see the plaque as we left. Christena's great uncle had fought in this particular area and we all fell silent after she read it allowed. We hear about the war in Canada, at Rememberance Day, from family members, but we do not understand the whole implications or conditions under which people had to survive. I have always been against war and will continue to be, but it was in that moment that I realized just why I am so anti-war. We also witnessed a woman with her young children throwing a white rose over the railing into the choppy, salt water below. We could only speculate as to why she did this, but it kind of added to the impact the war monument had on us.
We returned to our hotel for a fantastic lunch and then headed off to the pool for another practice. The practices were a little out of control and I found myself getting very frustrated. The pool was way too full and the waves were giant because of all of the extra bodies in the water. The lane ropes were not what I am used to. They were smaller and didn't stop any of the water from pounding into you when someone passed in the opposite lane. Not to mention, some members of the American team kept sitting on the ropes causing me to float into their lane. (When I swim in the lane with ten other people, I have to trail the lane rope, either with my hand or shoulder, to make sure I don't float out into someone's path). We did a few dives and sprints and I was very impressed with my results. I even swam butterfly and the head coach was flabberghasted. He said, "Wow Jess. I have never seen you swim butterfly like that before. Want to start swimming it as the 100 metres?" (Hell no)! :) It's ok to start the individual medley, but as its own race? Forget it. :d
That night I slept well and Saturday morning I was ready to race.
Saturday May 13 2006
The swim meet was constructed in a very strange way. Usually, heats are swam in the morning and finals for the same events are swam at night. The top eight swimmers from the mornings races compete against each other in the evening sessions to win medals. This meet had only three sessions and no finals. For example, Saturday morning I swam the 50 freestyle and in the afternoon I swam the 100 metre freestyle and 200 metre individual medley. The strangest part of it was that the 50 metre free in the morning had a final at night, but none of the other races did. I also had to swim it a third time on Sunday. (Swimming is divided into different classifications for swimmers with a disability. It is the way people attempt to make swimming a level playing field for all disabilities. If you want to read more about it go to:
and there should be a link explaining the classifications for SWAD-that stands for swimmers with a disability). So, Saturday I swam the fifty free twice, once for heats and once for finals,. That was multi-disability and did not use the classification scoring system to determine the winners. They just picked the fastest time, which normally does not work because someone who is a leg amputee is going to swim faster than someone with cerebral palsy. On Sunday I had to swim it again, but only against totally blind swimmers. (Confused yet)? I was!
During the heats of the 50 free, my head coach suggested that we swim a stroke (back, breast, or butterfly), probably to try to keep us out of the finals for the random 50 free. It was an event that no one had planned on swimming, but even though I swam back stroke, I still ended up making finals. I was shocked! (During a freestyle event, a swimmer can swim any stroke that is legal. So back stroke, breast stroke or butterfly, but not side stroke). :)
I ended up winning bronze in the random fifty free, silver in the 100 free and bronze in 200 individual medley (IM). The 200 IM was the event I had worried about the most and I was surprised to find that the girl who beat me for the silver only out touched me by 1 100th of a second. (Apparently I should keep swimming this event)? The head coach was impressed, which happens rarely, and he was very pleased with my butterfly... He suggested, again, swimming the 100 butterfly. (Again, are you nuts)?
The day had been long as we had spent approximately seven hours on the pool deck. (There have been meets where we have been stuck on the deck longer, but this was long enough).
Well, I think this is long enough. I will complete the tale of our adventures to Belgium, tomorrow. Or, perhaps the next day. I have not been very good at keeping my blog up to date, have I? :)