Last week I was presented with the opportunity to compete in the Copa de España, which is similar to a college dual meet where all of the club teams of Spain put forth two swimmers for each event and then they duke it out for the title. Since I am from the States, with all of the rules and regulations, we were unsure whether or not I could compete until Monday (the meet started on Tuesday). And fortunately I was given the green light!
Describing the atmosphere of this meet, may be the harder than competing. There really are no words that accurately evoke the atmosphere on deck. In all of my years competing I have never been to a meet quite like it.
Teams showed up in tutus, sparkly hats, team shirts, carrying bazookas, drums, horns, and anything that makes noise. They marched in singing songs and cheers of their city/province. They were proud and they were loud. Since the meet was in Madrid, I cannot say that this was the case for other teams, but many of my teammates who were not competing came to every session just to cheer us on and keep the morale high.
Every few minutes we got a brief respite from the commotion when the starter asked for silence at the start of a heat. Once the buzzer rang, the drums were banging and the horns were blowing. At times it was hard to hear myself think and I quickly lost my voice.
It’s these types of atmospheres that sweep you up and you get lost in the excitement of competing. The pool becomes a battlefield of who can get their hand on the wall fastest. This commotion did not cease throughout the four sessions. The picture above was taken by a teammate and just gives a glimpse at our section with our megaphones and horns cheering for what I believe was the mile. (Proof that this was an emotion packed event if people were willing to stand for an entire mile).
I swam a morgus-board of events, ranging from the 200 IM, 50 free, 100 and 200 Fly, along with relays 800, 400, 200 free and 400 medley. In that mix I was able to go a few personal bests, just proving that you can always get faster (the fly was no faster, but they were decent times).
The best part about the meet was that I re-gained my competitive edge. I have been wondering if this is something that I still want to pursue. After competing winning and losing in a meet that mattered, I realized that this is something that I want – also that I really really hate to lose.
Additionally, now after competing in this Copa I can make goals because I will be able to swim in Spanish Nationals this summer, something that radically changes everything.
As you can see from the online article below we won the meet. Both the men’s and women’s teams were victorious, which is a huge feat for our club. Good luck finding me in this photo (as a hint I am in the back on the lefthand side).