The heating in the room seemed to be set to hot bordering on boiling. I woke in a sweaty mess but I was far happier to be hot than shivering cold.
The hotel did a buffet breakfast. It was very tempting to sit there for the longest time and graze on the breakfast foods of all nations. We would have too if it wasn’t for the fact we were meant to be swimming today.
There were four British girls in the fly heats. I joined the flag waving supporters on the side to make the loudest noise whenever a Brit was introduced to the crowd. I almost felt sorry for the ones that didn’t have vocal support. Cate did well in her heat by flying her way to a medal position. The crowd went wild (as we did for every other Brit regardless of the finishing position).
I was up next for the 100 freestyle. I wandered down to the changing tent with two of the other Brit lads. One was in my heat and one in the heat before. We were all definitely participants rather than competitors. Here to be part of the event. This time I was warm. I got changed the put-on fleece leggings, a robe and a down coat. I could feel the earth. The devils of yesterday’s shivers still lingered but I knew I was in better shape. At poolside I was introduced to a cheering crowd. I’ve never experienced the power of that sort of support before and it is absolutely amazing, it made me proud to be here, proud to be taking part, proud of upholding the British tradition of just having a go. The announcer instructed us in a thick and commanding accent to “take off your clothes” and then “enter the water”. The water was icy cold but I was in full race mindset. “Set”. “Start”. The first length flashed by. The turn was awful. The second length was a bit wobbly. The third I nearly swam into the side of the pool and the water tuned to treacle on the last. I looked up at the board. I was seventh in a personal best time. That made me happy.
I sat in the hot tub as the after drop hit. My body cooled and the shakes came. From the hot tub, I went to the sauna. Breathing the hot damp air warmed me from the inside and chased the shivers away. Even my teeth were cold.
We gathered in a cafe close by for hot drinks and conversations. Most were buoyed up by the events so far and looking forward to the afternoon. In what seemed like moments it was time for the girls to prepare for the 50 free and the rest of us to yell and wave flags as the girls gave their all. Yet again Cate swum herself into a medal position.
My last race was the 50 free. I was warm and I’d already swum twice the distance. With confidence like that and a good crowd behind you there is nothing that can go wrong. I finished last with a personal best and a big smile.
Cate and I thought it would be rude not to have a beer or two back at the hotel to celebrate our success before attending the medal ceremony, let the drinking commence.
I felt so proud as various member of the British contingent went up to the podium wrapped in flags to collect medals of various hues. Only the Finnish had the same level of vocal support.
We attended to after party where awards were handed out and hair was let down. It was a good night out but after last night and a lot of cold I wasn’t up to the pace. I retired early knowing that some would end the party in the small hours with the spirits
We passed the nice bar on the way back to the hotel. It seemed rude not to have one last wheat beer