Since becoming SLSC members many years ago we have categorically failed to be real team members! We have rocked up to the occasional mile race and twice swum the anniversary challenge swim but turning up regularly for the Sunday morning swims has never happened.
This year I (Manda) declared, whilst recovering from the birth of my son, that I was going to try do more of the Sunday races this year. In reality I have said this ever year but this year I meant it. As well as me and Katie, Brian and Kate are also members so would try and come to some races.
In the summer the races start at 9am so the idea would be to do a training session and then time the session to finish when the race was starting. The majority of the races are handicapped. We have no idea how this is calculated and we think 99.9999999% SLSC members also have no clue how this dark art works. Despite this and with a hope that I would be improving as the season went on, I was optimistic that Team Mermaids would be able to secure one trophy!
With some help from Brian here is our account of the SLSC summer races:
1 mile (Brian)
The SLSC 1 mile race is the longest of the summer handicaps. 1 mile works out at 17 and a bit lengths of the lido, so the start line is part way down the pool (facing the deep end), and 17 full lengths after that. Manda, Katie and I (Brian) were all in attendance this year. Katie and I had been there since 7:30 and had done 44 lengths before the race, as we were in full preparation mode for the Henley Bridge to Bridge swim. The start was a bit unusual as we had to jump in at the deep end, and swim up to the start line, before turning around to start the swim proper. Katie and I swam together to finish in 27:15, and Manda finished in a very respectable 30:10 in her first race back since having a baby.
Manda has written about this in more detail here.
1000 yards (Manda)
With the others at the Thames Marathon I (Manda) headed down solo for a training session and then registered myself. Like the new girl at school, I had no friends with me, so casually put myself in the middle of the pack and then chatted to anyone who would speak to me. The race itself was a good bench mark to see if/how I was improving since giving birth to Miles. 17:05 signified a 1 minute improvement since my return to swimming – hoorah!
800 yards (Manda)
Katie and me headed down to the lido to do my longest swim post child arrival and then lined up ready for the swim. I was swimming in a line with 3 other members and had prior to the race decided to go ‘slow’ to give myself the best possible handicap so that next week I could reign victorious in the 200 yards! My competitive streak came out though and next thing I know I’m sprinting the last 2 lengths. I touched at the same time as the man (sorry I’m rubbish at remembering names!) I was ‘racing’, at which point Katie, who at finished in 11:30, got told she was banned for being too fast by him. 😜
200 yards (Katie)
In previous years we had only ever swum the 1 mile event at the SLSC races so we were excited to do more of a sprint. On signing up we were told that none of the fast people were here today so we could swim at the fast persons’ end of the pool. Not sure whether to be offended or flattered we headed over to the start.
I (Katie) put my head down and swam. On the Thursday before we had been doing 200 yard reps in the SLSC training session so I felt I had some recent experience in terms of pacing. I was aiming for hard on the way up before turning it up a bit on the way back. This over excited tactic inevitably led to some dying on the way back but I managed to touch the wall first. I guess all the really fast people were elsewhere! The race was handicapped, however, so I didn’t pick up the overall trophy.
300 yards breaststroke (Brian)
This race was a “special edition” as it was on a Monday rather than a Sunday (the late august bank holiday). I had been in Ireland for the weekend, so was keen to cram as much swimming as possible into Monday. Accordingly, I met Katie at 7:30, and we did 41 lengths before the race (finishing at the far end, as that was the end the race started from). We were somewhat surprised to find that the race was three lengths of breaststroke (all the previous races I had been in were freestyle). We started off a bit tentatively, but I found myself beside some very fast people, so naturally started to race them! Katie finished second female, and I finished second male. My placing was uncontroversial (despite my best efforts I was at least 5m behind the winner), but Katie’s was a lot, lot closer. We then finished off with a swift 24 lengths back in our wetsuits (naturally!).
99 yards medley (Katie)
The 99 yards medley race is one of the few SLSC events of the year which is not handicapped. Manda and I (Katie) were therefore secretly hopeful that Team Mermaids might pick up their first SLSC trophy. The race was a width of back, breast and then free. I started cautiously on the backstroke – too many childhood incidents making me scared of hitting my head. By the end of the breaststroke width Alina, who had touched me out on the 300 yards breaststroke race, was just ahead. I sprinted the final free width. It was all a bit chaotic at the end and not clear who had won. When someone came looking for me in the changing room I hoped it was me and it was. Now Team Mermaids have their own trophy – well to keep for a year at least!
We have voiced our intention to try continue to race on Sunday mornings but as the water temperature plummets I’m not sure how we are going to fare. Watch this space.