Monday, September 03, 2007

Mi Primera Competición de la Natación

It all started when we were talking about sports in our Spanish class, our teacher was giving words for different sports (nadar for swimming) and then she said there is a swimming competition on 1st September and my ears, which were least alert till that time, became very active and I raised my hand and said in my broken Spanish "yo participo en competicion" (I'll participate in the competition) and I still remember the awful expression on her face "¿Sabes nadar bien?" (Can you swim well?) she asked. I said if I can practice, I can give it a shot. She was kind enough to take me along with her for the next two weeks to Ciudad Deportivo at Churbusco, Monterrey.

1st September was the D-Day.
San Agustin Plaza sports club was the battleground.
Ajit and Deepa were my charioteers (a wholehearted thanks to them).

The competition was scheduled to start at 9 in the morning, we reached Plaza San Agustin by 8:15 on an extremely pleasant and beautiful Saturday morning. After entering the names at security, we entered the sports club. People were playing tennis and the stone pavements amidst the green lawn led us straight to the pool area. It was a small pool, 25 meters wide with 8 courses. A shelter for the audience was situated next to the pool with an eat out joint on the other, selling pizzas, burgers, tacos, coffee and juice.

I met my coach and he asked me to practice before the competition start, I practiced 200m free style, some corrective strokes of butterfly and another 100 meters of endurance strokes and few diving practices before we were asked to stop. They installed few boards inside the board which was supposed to contain touch sensors for recording time and finally at 9:15 the competition started.

It kicked started with 400m, 200m ladies backstroke, my heart started beating faster and faster as my turn approached.
I was trying to be relaxed.
I was breathing deep.
I was telling my mind not to get nervous.
My mind was out of my control.
Relax! Relax! Relax!
But my heart was beating at its fastest.

Finally, it was time for men's 50m backstroke and I was in course No. 2. We got down into the pool and we were in position for the kick-off, knees bent, hands holding the rods of diving platform and the guy shouts, "marca" and then goes the honk. I took a big leap and swam with all the energy I could expend, I ended up finishing fourth with 50.42 seconds and got out of the pool.
I felt as though I have no energy left in me.
Heart beating at its highest rate.
Mind totally out of control.
Want to relax, but cannot.
Body slightly shivering.
Totally stressed out and totally nervous.
I want to relax but I'm unable to.
I'm breathing deep, but still shivering.
Exhaustion, tiredness, anxiety!!!

It took really long time for me to get back to normal. Again all I had to do is wait, wait and wait till the next event - freestyle.
It was almost 20 minutes wait till other events got over.
My name was happily mis-spelled as Sachia and they called "Sachia Bradwaj corril cinco" (Sachin Bharadwaj, course 5).
I stand on diving platform.
I think of stretching my hands long to grab more water.
I think of bending my head when I dive to avoid slippage of goggles.
On the mark.
I dive, goggles slip and come to my mouth.
I swim with all the energy I have.
Goggles is at my mouth.
I'm gasping for breath.
I'm not able to respire.
But still I'm faring well.
Lungs are tearing apart.
No air.
I still try hard.
I somersault.
Goggles exactly on my mouth.
No air.
Swimming till my last ounce of energy.
Almost done.
Finally finished with second place with 39.90 seconds.
That was the most exhaustible moment of my life.
I'm out of pool.
Still gasping for breath.
Still nervous.
I've performed pretty well, but still I'm still nervous.
I wanna relax, but unable to.

Over time I could breathe well, and slightly relax. I just checked my next course number, it was No. 1 and I just went near the first course and relaxed more. I spoke with my broken Spanish with Simona (my Spanish teacher). My coach was speaking to me too, I just understood that he commented about goggles slipping off, didn't understand a shit of what he said. It was about another 30 minutes, till my next event, 50m butterfly. It was too much for me to take in the very first competition.

This time I was on course No. 1.
I was on diving platform.
"On the mark" and honk!!!
Perfect dive.
Started swimming butterfly.
My arms are failing.
They are failing badly.
They are fighting against my brain.
They are failing to come above the water.
My legs are failing.
My body is failing
But spirits are still alive.
I see every other person is already returning.
I give up competing and now my aim is finishing.
I know I'm the last, but I don't care.
I wanna finish and that all I want to do.
I don't f#$^ing care, I just want to finish.
Yeah!!! I did.
I was last, but I made it in 50.83 seconds.

I was out of pool with no energy.
Heart beating at its fastest pace.

But a great level of satisfaction.
A great sense of complacence.
I've done it.
I don't care if I don't win a shit.
But I've done it.
A great feel of achievement, even though it's not.

After my event, there were few more events of relay and other tie-breakers. I had changed already and had a nice and free body massage (Thanks to San Agustin for arranging a free massage for participants). I was cheering my team during relay events. There was an award presentation ceremony, our team won second prize in relay, we applauded, we were happy, we were rapturous, we were satisfied. That brought the whole event to a pleasing end. I would like to thank Ajit and Deepa once again for all the support they gave me during the event, special thanks to Simona for providing me with much needed practice sessions, my coach Martin for all his support, Irina and other team members for boosting my morale after every event.

Photographs courtesy: Ajit Kumar

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