By Carlos Kipisz | view profile
I always tell myself: - Charly, as you swim more open water races, your nerves will fade away. Then I level with myself: - That is a lie, Charly!, you have thirty races on your record and you still experience the same feeling. Is it me or are we all in the same boat? I will leave you wondering …
Cheeky as I am, on the van heading for San Pedro, I try to cheer up the newcomers, Jezabel and Julián, from Swimmers team as if I had already got over the experience!
We arrive at San Pedro Yatch Club, we identify ourselves, we are given the kit with the chip included, and we have our number written on the arm, which will soon fade away with the water and the sun screen.
I eat some dried fruit and raisins to boost my energy; I spread sun screen all over my body and go to the toilet many times. What is new: the chip around the ankle!
We are summoned through the loudspeaker to gather for the pep talk – which we listen to attentively: from the huge ship anchored, there remains one thousand meters to the big orange buoy which should be on our left side as we go past to enter the flat waters in the club.
We get on the bus, which will take us to the take-off, and I wonder how pleasant it would be to travel to work by subway feeling lightened with such outfit!
Being already in the area for take-off, we do some stretching and warm up, and we laugh at the natural restroom some male swimmers just improvised only twenty metres away from where we are standing, without taking into consideration the ladies there.
As we are pointed out, we descend to one of the branches of the river slowly and holding on tightly so as not to skid when we realize that the race has already started; so we jump to the water and we begin to stroke one on top of the other to get to the middle of the river where the strong current flows.
Luckily, the temperature of the water is nice and the sun warms us as we swim along! I adjust pace and breath as I smell of green nature on one and the other side of the riverbank; there is something new: I don´t reflect on what I am doing here!
A well-known cap catches up on me: that of my friend Tamara; I want to greet her when we coincide in strokes but she moves forward – not even in the water do women greet me! After a while, I see the well-known cap of my friend Marcelo but this time I do not attempt any greeting. Now, the race drags on: thousands of thoughts crop up in our minds so as to make time fly, and we feel alone in the middle of the river as if we have got off the riverbed without being aware of it!
Some buildings start becoming visible on the right side of the riverbank – a clue that we are close - but no sign whatsoever of the huge ship; a delicious smell of asado (Argentine barbecue) invades my nose but, a true vegetarian as I am, I imagine it based on soy and grilled vegetables with the cow grazing on one side.
I keep on trying hard and now tired, I wonder why I have not brought an energiser along as my friends usually do; I see people fishing on the riverbank who cheer us up as we swim past, my pride grows and I try to swim better to perform a good show – I feel as if I was Phelps!
I now spot the huge ship, which encourages me to keep on trying hard; a white boat gets in my way - violating the maritime traffic code - and I get scared but I do not stop; suddenly, I spot the big orange buoy; an obedient student as I am, I go past the buoy on my left side to do the final three-hundred sprint in flat waters heading for the finish-line arch – the ultimate goal.
I now raise my head more frequently with the sun facing me; a swimmer gets on my left and two others on my right, and the four of us swim together sizing up who the fastest is – and to think that a while ago I was longing for an energizer!
We have made it! And in single line, along we walk the improvised path as Swimmers shoot this moment and take pictures of us; I greet my friend Hernán with both hands, and my friend Vero welcomes me smilingly. Still feeling dizzy, I am given a medal and
the chip on my ankle is removed; I hydrate myself relishing on some delicious oranges; and I join my team along to celebrate and enjoy the vegetarian empanadas cooked by my friend María.
When the results are ready, I notice that I got the twelfth position out of…12 participants in my category! I guess the other eleven swimmers must have plotted against me to leave me in the final position to welcome me aboard this 55 through 59 year-old category. As I laugh at my witty thought, I congratulate myself for having participated in this marathon for the sixth time, and my mind is already thinking about the next race so that the wheel of emotions spin again!