Two weeks ago I headed off to Palma, Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain to compete in my first Spanish Open. This meet is the qualifications to join the Spanish National Team and to make the cuts required to compete for Spain Internationally. Fortunately, it is not closed to foreign participants, which meant that I was able to compete for Real Canoe.
The timing of the meet for me was not necessarily the best, since it fell exactly one week after the conference, and the week of the conference I did my best to stay in the water, but it was rather impossible. Therefore, I talked with Taja, my coach, and we agreed the best plan was to continue training and not use it as a taper and rest meet (although by the nature of the break from the conference I did get a fair amount of rest). I viewed this meet as a way to see where I was in my training, to practice the mental techniques from Dr. Charlie Brown to race free, and to compete with the best 200 butterfliers in the world.
Sarah Lewis discusses the concept of the “near win”, which she claims drives us towards mastery in her Ted Talk published this past March (If you have not already seen this talk, I highly recommend watching http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_lewis_embrace_the_near_win). I believe that she shares a beautiful message describing the notion that success exists solely in a fleeting moment and that in order to actually be successful you must value a near win, a moment in which you are not fully successful. This moment allows you to be close enough to your personal mark of success to know that it is reachable, but just far enough away that you are impelled to continue on your journey of self-mastery. In many ways the meet in Palma represents one of my personal “near win” experiences. Arriving third in the 200 Butterfly in an almost personal best time of 2:11 I proved that I am back to where I was when I left the sport in 2012. I was just close enough to Mirea Belmonte, the reining Olympic Gold Medalist in the event to know that I can compete at this high level, and just far enough away to know that there is much work to be done to do so. It is with this determination, dare I say tenacity, that I continue on my personal swimming journey.
Furthermore, no swim meet would be complete without a few anecdotal stories. In this meet, like many others I was addressed as Anne Mills in the ready room. Since this is my second name and hardly ever used, it has taken some practice to respond when I hear it called. Fortunately, everyone knows that I am “Anne Mills” and so if I do forget, someone will nudge me and tell me that I am being called.
I don’t think that I ever considered the ramifications of being called Anne Mills in the ready room because everyone who actually knows me calls me Kate. That being said, officially I am Anne Mills. During the live broadcast of the swim meet, Teledeporte not only included Anne Mills next to my lane, but also the Spanish National Flag. Clearly, I have not only changed names, but also my nationality. My poor roommates who tuned into the event Saturday afternoon, did not know that the Spanish Anne Mills was in fact me racing, not another Spanish Swimmer. This led to much confusion even among participants in the meet who started asking if I was in fact attempting to compete for Spain. The confusion carried over to Swimming World Magazine, which covered the event, one day listed me as Anne Mills and the other Katherine Anne oscillating between the two names. I am not sure where the mix up originated, but it sure makes for a good story.
In the end, it was a pleasure to compete for Canoe at such a high level. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been given and look forward to the future career of Anne Mills.