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Dear Sir!

We always like to hear from you. To make it easier to get in touch we’ve brought some of our popular letters to the editor feature online. Every month we’ll feature one of the letters that appears in Swimming Times magazine online to allow you to have your say and leave comments on issues that relate to you.

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Swimming Blunders

Dear Sir!

I suppose everyone starts a bucket list at some point in their lives. I’ve already started mine! My swimming guru, the late Gerry Thain of Camp Hill Edwardians SC, persuaded me to add three items to my bucket list, two of which I accomplished before he passed away.

1. Get a water meter fitted 
2. Retire as soon as possible

His third was for me to enter the British Gas ASA National Masters and Senior Age Group Championships in Sheffield. Last October, I achieved this. He would have been pleased that I entered a good number of events that were ‘worth getting in the water for having travelled so far’ (his words). 

I’m not so sure how he would have reacted at how I swam in the 400 IM. I’d been practising for this event for months, ever since my first 400 IM at the Midland Masters in Leamington Spa earlier in the year. I was up for it. Event manager Tony Ward’s words echoed in my ears: ‘Make sure you get out tired next time.’

When the starting tone sounded, I went for it. All was as planned until I approached the final turn in the backstroke section. I had been avidly watching the digital timing clock next to my name on the huge display board, and was staring at it as I went into the turn. I pushed off, still watching the clock, did a textbook streamlined pull out with single dolphin kick and started swimming breaststroke. 

Something is wrong, I thought. I should be on my back. I flipped over hoping that no-one had noticed.At that point, alarm bells started sounding in my head. Something is wrong, I thought. I should be on my back. I flipped over hoping that no-one had noticed. With my race plan in ruins, I continued to swim, thinking fast. Was it still possible to come out of this smelling of roses? Or should that be chlorine? So with about 15m left to swim, I did a full IM linked in with some ‘synchro’, tumble-turned at the yellow end and informed the bemused timing official that I wanted to stop and get out.

Had anyone noticed my swimming blooper? Based on people’s reactions, I think everyone had. Comments included: ‘Stick to single stroke events’, ‘Learn to count’ and ‘Remember to change strokes at the yellow end’. Tony Ward, who was in Sheffield as part of the record management team, suggested that perhaps the timing board should have said what stroke I should be on.
Was I annoyed? Strangely, no. I just laughed about it. Everyone else had. I enjoyed everything about the three-day event. Even the warm-up sessions. OK, they were crowded but, hey, there were a lot of people to fit in. Deal with it!

On reflection, will I be going to Sheffield again? You bet! Will I be doing the 400 IM again? Oh yes!

Following my 400 IM debacle, I was awarded a wooden spoon donated by fellow swimmers from Sheffield when safely back in Birmingham. 

And finally, I wonder if any Swimming Times readers at all levels have some swimming bloopers of their own they would like to share? Do tell…

Paul Millington      
By email

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