I didn't grow up on any sort of swim team, I really just learned to swim for triathlons. (thanks Coach Jim!) Swim meet were unknown territory for me.
Let me just say that I truly believe that I push myself as hard as I can for tough intervals in practice. But somehow it doesn't come close to the whole-body hurt of a competitive race like this. Even a triathlon swim, by virtue of the longer distance, is not the same. In a swim meet you are red-lining very intensely for a very short time.
Here's how it plays out:
You warmed up an hour ago. You wait your place on deck, fidgeting with goggles, adjusting your suit straps. The heat before you finishes. Up on the block, wait for the horn, and DIVE! The body reacts with momentary shock. You think you paced the first 50 right but somehow you are still dying on the second 50! It's an unfamiliar hurt. Reach the wall...and stop. Catch your breath, gather your strength, and hoist yourself out.Then in my case, I return to my required volunteer job, still dripping, which is to average race times (two timers per lane). That's my favorite job, I like doing the averages in my head, it's good mental exercise.
Today was kind of funny as there was a very low turnout so some heats were combined. (Tons of the kids were away at 4-H camp including mine.) My 100 free heat was all the girls/women over 13, but it was announced as the "Girls 13 and 14 year olds" which I promptly thanked the announcer for!! Yes, the 14-year-old took me handily. That means I did not win the Dum-Dum lollypop given to the heat winners. Darn it! Oh, and I refuse to do a flip turn. The one time I tried, OK I tried like 100 times in a row, I got so dizzy I just decided they were not for me. Plus they are no use in a triathlon.
I swam in my first ever relay, told by the team coach that I HAD to. Turns out it was pretty fun with all my (under-18) teammates and I held my own. And we won. YAYYYYYY!!!!! WE WON!!!! I'm not competitive, haha.
I finally figured out today that if I pull my swim cap down over the top of my goggles, I won't get water in them when I dive. Does that make me like the old geezer with his pants pulled up to his armpits?
If you get the chance to do a good old off-the-block, air-horn-in-the-ear swim race, go for it. It'll get your heart pumping and muscles burning like nothing else!