No I didn't swim for 12 long hours, I would be a dead man by this time had I done so. Swimming marathon works this way, there is a team of certain 8 members and they had to keep swimming in turns for 12 hours without any break in between. And fortunately I was part of such a team and the experience was a memorable one. Read on to find out...
The marathon was held at Casino Del Valle (read it Casino del vaye), sports club on avenue Gómez Morín at San Pedro. I was the first one to arrive at the pool, the morning was extremely pleasant, the mild golden yellow light lit the whole area. The pool was 50 meters long and was nicely embellished by withered leaves of the neighboring trees here and there. On one side there was an elevated place which housed many trees and served as our shelter for the whole day, the other side had the stall giving out free Gatorade and fruits; the toilets were behind the stall. My team members arrived and soon there was a roll call of the team and our coach chalked out a quick plan. The crowd started building and at 8:00AM sharp the marathon started.
Let me explain in detail how swimming marathon works, for the uninitiated. There is no target distance to be covered. The team has to continuously swim for 12 hours, the plan to achieve this has to be worked out by the coaches, there is no restriction of any kinds. Ours was a team of 7 members and our coach had to chalk out an intelligent plan for we were short of 1 member for equally dividing 12 hours. We had to swim for 15 minutes continuously in turns, so approximately every 75 minutes we used to get our turns. After 6 such turns, he changed the strategy. He made us swim 100 meters each in turns till the marathon came to end, but rapidly, to gain more distance.
There were about 5-6 teams in 2 categories (based on age). Our team performed well and at mid-day we were at third position. The 15 minutes swimming, though sounds less, is quite tiring due to the pressure you have. I've swam continuously for an hour, but this 15 minutes were more tiring than that. I swam 800 meters in my first turn, 700 m in second , 700 m in third, 800 m in fourth, 800 m in fifth and 700m in sixth turn. We kept binging on cookies, fruits, chocolates, nuts, salads and guzzling liters of juice for sustaining energy. During the breaks I read few pages of "Is Paris Burning?", met many interesting members of my team, talked to them, shared experiences, shared few jokes, taught few English words, learnt few Spanish words, cheered my comrades, got cheered by them. JBL speakers were pumping out pathetic reggae tone music.
At 6 as said earlier our strategy changed and all of us gathered near the pool and 100 m fast laps started which went on till 8:00PM. Suddenly the speakers, which till now played ugly reggae tone, started playing commentary of the soccer match between Tigres and Monterrey which, coincidentally, was held on the same evening. It grabbed more attention than the swimming itself and crowd which was silent till then, started screaming when goals were scored. As I started my second or third lap, I was so exhausted that even 100 m seemed to be so long. All the energy would be spent on first 50 m and the return was so damn tiring that I felt as though the swimming pool just got stretched infinitely. All of us were exhausted and hungry, we were most eagerly waiting for the digital clock to display a welcoming 8:00. Finally we heard "siete, seis, cinco, quatro, tres, dos, uno" and the clock was blinking 8:00. We all screamed and applauded. It brought an end to the 12 hours long swimming marathon. Our team had swam, in total, 34900 m and stood 4th. Approximately each of us had swam about 5 KM, that was my highest in a day.
We stayed back till the prizes were distributed for the winners. We were given a consolatory T-Shirt. As I walked back to the parking lot, I was just wondering how it would be to participate in 24 hours long marathon. Hmm...will wait for that!!!
Other related post: My first swimming competition