It’s hard being a masters athlete when you’ve been an athlete most of your life, especially if you’re a masters athlete in the same sport. Every year you become more and more aware that you are fighting the inevitable. Getting those PBs become harder, you begin to simply aim for old times or look for times in events you haven’t done since you were 15 or that you have never done long course. The niggles take longer to dispel, rest days become important and sometimes inconvenient as you simply have to take a day off because training twice a day for a more than a few days just won’t work anymore. More focus is on injury prevention, cross training, learning new techniques, undoing old habits, getting new togs anything to get an advantage, to squeeze more out of a performance. You have to fit training in where you can, evenings at terrible hours, packed public sessions when your child has a private lesson, lunch times (which leave you in bits for the rest of your work day). Most of your training is done on your own, the others in your club maybe only train twice a week or in group sessions that you can’t make. Before you get in the pool, as your training, as your racing and you feel tired, as your body aches, as the muscles tire, as the lactate courses through, the dark voices ask why you still do this at this age, didn’t you prove yourself years ago? You have to dig deep and silence these voices while being aware that this is getting harder. You hear from people who only took up training or sports when they were middle aged and they tell you they have never felt better and you envy them. Every year for them can bring improvement, they can see results, while each year you become more aware of how much you are losing. You see others your age with beer guts, who tire walking up stairs and you wonder if that wouldn’t be easier. Yet there is that other voice, which needs that drive. As the season starts, as you look at the competitions, at your competitors, you realise you have to get into the water. Pride won’t allow you to leave anything in the pool for a race. Grim determination will make you drive those limbs that can’t move, it will make those lungs that want to burst hold that breath just that little bit longer. You struggle to get out of the pool, but you got that time, you got that gold medal, but the warm fuzzy feeling doesn’t last because you want to do it again. You NEED to do it again, because lets be honest what else would you do? This sport is as much a part of you as you are of it.