My third day started very early, the men’s 50m free was the first event and my heat was the 8th in my pool, so I would be up 4 minutes after the event started. While I wasn’t at all worried about the race, it’s a splash and dash, I was determined to make it in plenty of time. On arrival, I went directly to the call room to make sure I knew where it was. When there I saw that the warm up was still going and I had enough time for a quick swim. I had considered not going in for a warm up at all, but I was quite early and the idea of warming up in the actual racing pool, along with the fun atmosphere, was too inviting so I hopped in for a few hundred meters and a quick dive off the blocks. Now there wasn’t a changing room anywhere near this pool so I changed on the side before going in, but had to go to the other end of the arena/complex to change into my tech suit. I timed it well though and was up waiting well before they cleared the pool and started calling us into the call room. Despite the early start everyone was in a good mood, it was almost as much fun as relays. It was a little like playing musical chairs as we would just get onto our row in the call room and within 30 seconds we were up and onto the next row. We had a quick walk down the length of the pool to our blocks. I had wondered how we would get our gear after the heat if we would have to walk back or if they would have people bring it to us. They went with the latter so some poor officials spent the event just walking up and down for the whole thing with baskets of clothes, or in my case a bag and clothes. Once behind the blocks I went to do my usual jump, but checked first that I was out from under the umbrella, which is why you can see me going out to the side before my race.
The race was always going to be a challenge for me as I went in as the slowest or second slowest on the outside lane. So with that in my mind, I took off in the water and was dismayed at the other swimmers, the few times I looked it seemed that I was half a body length behind the guy next to me and I couldn’t see across the pool. I kept driving at it and had a good finish, looked for my time and it was another 27. Initially, I was disappointed, I had hoped to finally break the 27, I don’t remember what my junior time was, but I haven’t gone lower than 27 as a master swimmer. The more I thought about the race the more I realized I couldn’t have done much differently. The start, the few breaths I took, the stroke rate, the reach, the rotation, the finish, there wasn’t much I could have done differently, perhaps on a different day at a different time or temperature it might have been different. I can only conclude that it’s the limit of my “pure speed”, there is only so fast someone can go unless something changes physically. I’m not going to be growing more fast twitch muscle fiber, I’m not getting taller, or younger and I’m not sure how much a year of heavy weights would do. It was only later when watching Jia’s footage of the race that I realized that I had beaten the guy next to me as well as four other people in the race. This and a ranking of 86th (out of nearly 160) cheered me up a lot. I didn’t do a cool down, but we did take some pictures and videos of the pools. We also had an expensive visit to the Arena store before heading off into the fabulous city that is Budapest. – Mike