With just hours before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, where swimming is one of the most watched and celebrated sports, I thought I could give Punchers a little taste of what it’s like to compete as a swimmer.

Flying start… Jess Schipper carries Australia's Olympic hopes in the author's former pet event, the 200m butterfly. Pic: Phil Hillyard

Although I am not claiming to have had the experiences of an Olympian, I do know what it’s like to have the sport take over every inch of your psyche in the lead up to and during race day. So imagine this - multiplied by a million with the incomparable variable of competing at an Olympic level.

It’s 9.30pm the night before the 200m butterfly heat at the Australian Open Swimming Championships. I have to be up at 7.30 to get to the pool. Ten hours should be enough. Of course this never happens. I’m so worried about getting enough sleep that I can’t doze off.

I look at my clock. 11pm. Still eight and a half hours. 12am. Okay, I’m going to sleep now. 

1am. Shit.

I wake feeling lethargic. Already the nerves are sending trembles through my body, but I drag myself off to the aquatic centre to join the other hundreds of hopefuls. “Milly Moose!” my coach calls me by my familiar squad nickname as I arrive at the pool and he gives me a warm-up set.

I am constantly aware of how every part of my body feels. As any butterfly-er would know, shoulders are the biggest issue. I assess how they feel, reminded of all the idiots who have called me Butch Bitch, a tiresome expression well known to any female swimmer.

10am. I’m in the marshalling area, chatting to teammates and competitors, some of whom are giving off intimidating auras of relaxation and confidence. Some are telling everyone how freaked out they are. Some are completely silent, tapping their feet with their eyes fixed straight ahead. Some are on the other side of the room flirting with the male swimmers. It’s hard not to be just a little distracted by all that muscle and testosterone of the men’s 200m butterfly competitors).

We’re lined up behind the blocks. Lane six – lucky lane six as Stephanie Rice would say. There’s something about lane six that makes me feel like the underdog, yet still in the mix of the best swimmers.

Thoughts run through my mind as I assess how I’m feeling. Did I eat too much this morning? Not enough? Was my warm up too long? Too short? Am I shaking because I’m nervous or cold? If I’m cold, then shouldn’t I be doing more active stretches?

I’ve been training for this for months on end. I think of everything I’ve missed out on to get here. The 4.30am starts. The hours and hours of pain. The countless classes at school during which I fell asleep.

It’s all going to be worth it, or not, depending on the next two and a bit minutes.

The race is seconds away. I pull myself together and repeat my control-freak mantra in my head. You have the power over what is about to happen. Nothing else will affect this race except you.

I hear the whistle and climb onto the blocks. With a deep breath, I grab the handles. My mind is completely blank.

“Take your marks,” I hear. And the acquainted sound of the blunt beep triggers my arms forward in the torpedo position as I dive into the water.

It’s the most amazing feeling, swimming butterfly. On that first lap, I feel like I’m flying. Like my body is made to do this.

As I turn at the 50 metre mark, I glance at the others. We are all pretty equal at the moment and I streamline out of the wall. Just a hint of fatigue starts to kick in during the second lap.

I remember my coach’s words. Don’t Breathe Too Much. Don’t Come Up Too High. Get Into A Rhythm.

The pain is starting to settle in now as I near 100 metres. Pain Is Just Weakness Leaving The Body, the words of one of my best friends echo in my mind, and I push myself harder.

The third lap. That dreaded third lap. The most excruciating 50 metres of any race. It takes all of my self-discipline to keep my head down and not come up and start gasping and floundering around in the water.

The lactic acid is building up around my legs, and I know that to any spectator my shoulders are as red as anything right now. My arms are in agony as I push my body beyond its capabilities.

I hit the 150 metre mark and accept that I’m just going to smash my body for the next 50 metres. At this point, there is too much pain to think about anything. Even when I see the T on the black line and there are mere seconds left, it feels like I still have a mountain to climb.

When I finally hit the wall, I know I have done well. That’s the thing about butterfly, you can tell straight away if you’ve got it right.

Looking to the board, I see my time and feel nothing but elation. I’ve finished first. My chest is heaving and I’m in the worst pain of my life, but it’s all worth it. Because that feeling of a great race is unlike anything I have felt – and have not felt again since I quit the sport years ago.

It’s the feeling that every swimmer holds on to – that they remember on those freezing cold mornings before dawn, during agonising sets in preparation for a meet, on those nights where all your friends are out and you’re at home resting your body. And when you get that feeling, you remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing better than that.

For an Olympian, it’s all of the above and more… with the world’s eyes on you.

Most commented

63 comments

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    • Mahhrat says:

      08:02am | 27/07/12

      Damn, I feel like that just taking a shower.

    • Colin says:

      08:23am | 27/07/12

      And we spend MILLION$ training athletes so that they swim faster than other athletes who have had MILLION$ spent on them…What a thoroughly worthwhile pursuit.

      I wonder how the hundreds of homeless people freezing to death on such a cold night in Sydney feel right now..?

    • Mike says:

      09:26am | 27/07/12

      Don’t be such a killjoy Colin. Just because we love the Olympics and are proud of our young men and women improving themselves to perform to such an incredible level doesn’t mean we don’t care about homeless people as well. But this isn’t the forum for that discussion. So leave the cliche bah-humbug out, alright?

    • Sandra says:

      10:32am | 27/07/12

      Ah yes relating this to the homeless, that makes complete sense!
      In the society we live in you take your stance on the monetary value we spend on our athletes. Completely unecessary.

      Fabulous artcile into the insight of a young female athlete.

    • Brian B says:

      11:04am | 27/07/12

      Hey Colin! You’re a dick.

      I love both participating in and watching sport, and I also enjoy doing a little community service.

      Get lost.

    • Colin says:

      11:14am | 27/07/12

      Mike says: 09:26am | 27/07/12
      “Don’t be such a killjoy Colin.. this isn’t the forum for that discussion.”

      Isn’t it? When do we discuss and highlight the inequities between elite athletes being housed, fed, and watered at enormous taxpayer’s expense just to win a few medals, other than when the Olympics are on? Just blithely sweeping it under the carpet won’t stop the money waste, and it won’t feed and house the poor.

      Honestly, the priorities of people in this country are just appalling…

      ———————-

      Brian B says: 11:04am | 27/07/12
      “Hey Colin! You’re a dick.”

      So I also see where the million$ were wasted on public education too.

    • gold says:

      11:54am | 27/07/12

      I’ve read that on average a gold medal costs the tax payer about 1million dollars. What I hate is when athletes complain they don’t get paid enough.. I think the royalties they get from advertising and a like should be paid back… like HECS for Uni.  Anyone else agree?

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      12:05pm | 27/07/12

      Colin has a good point, and peoples dickish responses to his valid opinion simply highlight the fact that the priorities of things that our taxes go to are retarded to say the least. I wonder, are the athletes who have all this money spent on them so that they can swim back and forth in a pool a few times a year obliged to give any of said money back to the taxpayer? I studied at Uni and I’m still paying for it. Fair’s fair after all. I’d at least like to see some accountability for where the money goes and what is returned, it’s not like I gain anything from someone winning a medal on the opposite side of the globe in an event I don’t give a shit about.

    • kitteh says:

      12:44pm | 27/07/12

      Admiral, I am stalking you today, agreeing with everything you say. Creepy to the fourth power.

      We need to be subsidising people that will contribute in the long term. A doctor or engineer will be of immense value to the public for about 40 years. Most athletes have a societal value close to zero, benefit nobody but themselves and most stop using their dubious skills around the age of 30. Even the role model argument falls down - Nick D’Arcy or Stephanie Rice, anyone? Of course, if they win something, I’m sure all the sociopathic behaviour and hate speech will be forgotten.

      Enjoy sport? Good for you. But it is not above valid criticism, and it is perfectly reasonable to raise these issues.

    • Jeremy says:

      12:44pm | 27/07/12

      Cold?

      In all seriousness, you’re not saying anything interesting, you’re not saying anything anyone hasn’t heard a million times before, and you’re writing this on a computer that cost money you could have donated to the homeless, in time that could be spent helping the homeless.

      Automatically taking a contrary opinion to something doesn’t make you edgy.  It just makes you a buzzkill.

      Enjoy the article, and the spectacle, for what it is.

    • Tim says:

      12:52pm | 27/07/12

      Yawn. Colin lets remove all the fun things from life because there are some people in Sydney who haven’t got the motivation and determination to make something of their lives. I for one won’t be giving two hoots for the homeless as I enjoy the Olympics.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:18pm | 27/07/12

      Damn kitteh, I wanted a stalker but I was kind of hoping for a more off-the-chain, bat shit crazy one like TimB has. But I’ll take what I can get, I’m honored to have you as my stalker.

      Unfortunately, looking at the opinions of some people here, the general public is more concerned with shiney things than the efficient running of a country. They’re all ‘relax guy, derp, who cares where our money goes and that these people never have to pay a cent back despite tax payers paying for their training for a sport that people watch every four years derp’. I for one give a crap where my money goes, and this is not a worthy cause. But hey, if they’re happy spending a butt load of their tax dollars on something that has little to zero return, then hakuna matata or some shit.

    • Scott says:

      01:23pm | 27/07/12

      Seriously? Sport stimulates the economy.  Money gets pumped in, advertisers pay money, people buy products, more taxes get paid, government, companies etc put more money into community. Sporting events also promote tourism, world relations etc = more money.

      Taking money out of something you don’t consider worthwhile can end up hurting the homeless people when it results in less money in the economy, more wars etc. Not to mention you remove the sporting industry, you’ve now removed more jobs = more homeless

      Over simplification Colin - you need to get a bigger perspective

    • marley says:

      01:37pm | 27/07/12

      @Scott - seriously? Not supporting sports is going to lead to economic collapse and WW III? 

      Exactly how does pouring money into elite athletes so that they can compete abroad benefit the Australian economy?  The money is in hosting sporting events, not paying athletes to compete, especially as they mainly compete outside Australia and the money goes to places like the UK.

      If we sank the money into apprenticeship programs that we sink into sport, I reckon the economy would benefit one heckuva lot more than it does from the likes of Jana Pittman or John Steffensen.

    • Ryan says:

      01:44pm | 27/07/12

      @kitteh, exactly what has Stephanie Rice done wrong to be not considered a role model?

    • Tank says:

      01:56pm | 27/07/12

      Geez, wish I had some of the millions of dollars that Colin is talking about when I was a swimmer in high school… could have been somebody!

    • mitchell says:

      02:58pm | 27/07/12

      Tank - Colin’s a boofhead. And as for money in swimming, the vast majority goes out the door - not in the wallet or purse.

      Aside from a small handful of the real superstars, swimmers hardly rake in the $$. Most of our Olympic swimmers rely on their parents or have to work (and pay taxes) just like you and me. The swimmers themselves don’t get paid to train - they get assistance with coaching fees, some equipment (togs, goggles etc), access to sports science, physio, dieticians, travel when part of the national team; but that’s about it. They are hardly pampered and certainly won’t be retiring on their earnings from swimming (the Phelps’ of the world are exceptions). Even the average rugby league boofhead who can hardly string two words together earns substantially more than most of our Olympic swimmers.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      03:01pm | 27/07/12

      Yeah I don’t get how people swimming in another country can stimulate our economy, but whatever. Marley, as ever, has put it far more coherently than I could. This is a career to a lot of these people, so why do they get a free ride on the backs of tax payers when people who study at Uni do not? Wouldn’t people who study at Uni and go on to get jobs in Australia equally stimulate the economy? Once again, we’re supporting, with our tax dollars, the life decisions of a few individuals.

      I can’t wait for a drink today, now theres a good cause.

    • kitteh says:

      04:53pm | 27/07/12

      Ryan, I was thinking of her charming ‘f*ggots’ tweet and snivelling PR apology afterward. Not in the D’Arcy league, I’ll grant that, but not exactly role model material either.

      Can’t say I’m buying the ‘stimulate the economy’ argument, for reasons already stated by other posters. Besides, sport has high overheads, so profit margins are quite low even if most athletes are self-supporting.

      But hey, the Olympics aren’t all bad. Think I’ll go swimming tomorrow - the pool will be empty with everyone at home glued to the TV.

    • Charlie says:

      01:39am | 28/07/12

      she’s not here to teach the dangers of small mindedness combined with social media, she’s here to inspire kids to swim, one our most loved sports. maybe mr rogers might be a better role model but he can’t swim the 200m individual medley in just over 2 minutes

    • MJ Leaver says:

      08:28am | 27/07/12

      That was brilliant.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Shane* says:

      08:52am | 27/07/12

      I love a hot mug of melodrama on a Friday morning.

    • Glenn9 says:

      09:22am | 27/07/12

      You go, girl.

    • Mitchell says:

      09:32am | 27/07/12

      Hey Colin - pull your head in champ. You’re like so many other knockers who can’t stand the fact that Australians just love their sport and at Olympic time - really love our swimmers. Read the article again. It’s not supposed to be a social commentry - it’s a wonderful insight into the mind of an elite swimmer at a time when most (I’m clealry excluding you here Colin) of Australia will be cheering on our athletes in London. Great work moose - I for one loved it. I sense some unfinished business…a comeback perhaps!
      And Col, mate - whatever you do, don’t you dare watch those horrible pampered swimmers on TV.

    • Colin says:

      11:20am | 27/07/12

      Mitchell says: 09:32am | 27/07/12
      “And Col, mate - whatever you do, don’t you dare watch those horrible pampered swimmers on TV….”

      Don’ worry, “mate”; I won’t be.

      And, yes, the problem in this country is that, “...Australians just love their sport and at Olympic time - really love our swimmers…”; it’s pathetic how ridiculously over-the-top sports fanatics there are in this country, and how much the lowest common denominator has a say on where the country’s wealth is spent….

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      12:10pm | 27/07/12

      “You’re like so many other knockers who can’t stand the fact that Australians just love their sport and at Olympic time - really love our swimmers.”

      I don’t, so can I keep the taxes I pay towards these? Didn’t think so.

    • mitchell says:

      12:13pm | 27/07/12

      Come over to my place to watch the swimming Col. I have a special seat just for you. We can continue the debate too. Should be a blast.

    • Mattb says:

      09:36am | 27/07/12

      swimming, up there with croquet and badmington as one of the most boring sports ever inflicted on the public.

      yawn, anyone else feeling sleepy just thinking about it?. cant wait till the olympic games is over for another four years, especially if Steve Hooker fails, what a drama queen that tosser is..

    • Hannah says:

      10:45am | 27/07/12

      For any sportsman or woman who have put in the time and effort into a particularly sport, whether a beginner or an olympian they have found a passion. For you to gun down an individual’s passion at a time that is crucial and celbratory worldwide obviously means you sir have a dull life.
      You are a cynic and a defeatist.
      Remeber Matt! Don’t turn on your TV, read the newspaper, go online or anything that would let you see or celebrate the olympics…we wouldn’t want it to impact your exciting life.

    • Mattb says:

      12:41pm | 27/07/12

      gee hannah, you seem to know alot about someone you’ve never even met.

      “you are a cynic and a defeatist”

      really?, just because i find certain sports and the olympics mundane and you dont?. your a judgemental fool that makes assumptions about people you dont know and have never met.

      “you have a dull life”

      my life is far from dull. spending 10 hrs a day, seven days a week, training to swim fast back an forth in a pool or run fast in a straight line.
      now thats dull..

    • Susan says:

      09:40am | 27/07/12

      Thanks Ameila…I hate those sort of nerves that can keep you awake and that can surge through your body like you experience.  So, great admiration that you can move through that and still perform and compete as you do.  All the best!

    • youdy beaudy says:

      09:48am | 27/07/12

      Well, it’s really marvelous the swimming. The kids put so much into training. Up at 4am, in the pool early and training and more training, pushing their bodies to the limit. Could we all do it, well, probably not.

      To win a Gold, silver or bronze in any sport in the Olympics is surely a great feat and the winners deserve it fully. Then there are the others who don’t get to stand on the podium who in many cases are just a short amount behind the winners. It must be down a bit for them.

      Yes, swimming is one of the hardest sports to compete in and they are bringing more youngsters through each year, so the competition is indeed strong.

      Good luck to all the youngsters who compete in any of the sports events and may the force be with you.

    • glenm says:

      11:16am | 27/07/12

      Youdy beuady,
      Yes for all of the swimmers who achieve the Olympic dream there are thousands who do all of the training and get so close only to miss out. It wold have to be one of the most demanding sports physcologically to continue to train so hard every week, for it to come down to one race.
      At the same time as the Olympic’s our young national swimmers are competing in Sydney , I am proud to say my God daughter is one of those swimmers and I wish her and the others the best of luck.  To those that dont win, I hope they all are proud of thier achievements in getting where they are. I also hope the Australian public can recognise that all of those who are competing   are still champions of the sport wether they win or not and we should respect the level of commitment and effort it takes to be an olympian. Some others here may think the sport is dull and boring but thousands of kids involved in this sport are learning about strength of will, commitment, and dedication. Well done.

    • SLF says:

      10:13am | 27/07/12

      Whilst I love the Olympics and just about every sport….swimming just does nothing for me. It is simply dull, dull, dull.

      Not questioning the commitment, or the effort required, far outweighs anything I can do, but I am dreading the FTA coverage of the Olympics as there will be gold medals being decided in other sports that we will miss so we can watch some dull qualifying heats in the swimming.

      I realise this makes me UnAustralian, but meh swimming is dull.

    • mitchell says:

      10:43am | 27/07/12

      Swimming - dull? Mmmm. Lets see. Most watched event - Opening Ceremony. 2nd - swimming, 3rd athletics. There’s a reason FTA and pay TV highlight swimming - IT RATES. Why does it rate? Ahhh maybe people are interested and want to watch it. What was one of the highest rating 10 minutes on Aust TV this year? Thorpey’s 200free race. But at least SLF and Colin can sit together and do their hair or nails or just ponder the meaning of life - while our swimmers are chasing gold.

    • Colin says:

      11:32am | 27/07/12

      SLF says: 10:13am | 27/07/12
      “I realise this makes me UnAustralian…”

      No, it makes you “Unorshtrayan”; you have to get the pronunciation right or they’ll never understand you.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      11:43am | 27/07/12

      Foxtel 8 chennels plus a 3D channel, every gold medal shown .Can hardly wait. Sit and watch boring re-runs as no other channel will putting any new programming to air during the Olympics.

    • mitchell says:

      11:57am | 27/07/12

      Have you seen someone about that inferiority complex Colin. I sense some underlying anger towards our athletes. Take a big breath and just let it go, Colin. You can be bigger than this.
      And go on - watch the Olympics - you know you want to !

    • SLF says:

      12:00pm | 27/07/12

      @pa_kelvin….I recently moved and can’t get Foxtel for another 3 weeks.
      :(

      With 8 channels I could watch every medal, not just have to sit through Ray Warren boring us senseless with his endless hyperbole for some swimming heats.

      But not to worry, mitchell informs me that swimming is popular, therefore it must be good. And that Thorpey’s comeback was popular because it was a race and not a freak show.

    • Mitchell says:

      12:47pm | 27/07/12

      SLF - you and Colin and the good admiral (ackbar?) can hold hands and cry into your tissues whilst the vast majority (stings doesn’t it) of Australians revel in the achievements of our Olympic athletes. I know you’re all going to be watching too. Think of me when you are:)

    • BlackSwan says:

      01:10pm | 27/07/12

      SLF I am so with you there! I dont understand why we have to watch heat after heat of swimming when were missing out on finals of others.
      the only reason they think it rates so well is that people have it on in hopes that they’ll get a glimps of an update on another sport inbetween more heats.
      I’m not unaustralian, I want to see more different sport!

    • SLF says:

      01:36pm | 27/07/12

      @blackswann exactly. They Olympics is for a multitude of sports so should be covered appropriately. The 2nd round of the 400m medley should not be shown ahead of finals of other sports, but it will be because apparently all Australian sports fans care about at the Olympics is the swimming.

    • Carl Palmer says:

      10:35am | 27/07/12

      Amelia, Been there and done that and yes together with many many & sometimes very very cold 4:30am starts. No not the swim but as the parent of a 200m butterflyer. I’ve heard your description many times over and how the day would unfold at school. Nine sessions a week. If only people knew the huge amount of work swimmers - including the very young do… I’m not a “swimming person” but I do admire the determination and intense work ethic. Thanks for the reminder : - )

    • Kevin says:

      10:47am | 27/07/12

      Not a sportsman myself just enjoy a lap or two but your insight reminds me of the pain, early starts and years of training that goes into a 2 minute race.
      Thanks for the insight, well appreciated and definitely needed (from viewing the above comments).

    • HannahG says:

      10:57am | 27/07/12

      As a young female swimmer once, this article represents why we put up with the early mornings, missing the nights out and the comments on broad shoulders. Fantastic article at such a critical moment. Gave me shivers down my spine on the last line, AWESOME!

    • mitchell says:

      11:41am | 27/07/12

      Awesome is spot on HannahMontana. You and Milly the moose certainly know what this is all about.
      To all you naysayers, dogooders and dullards who think swimming/Olympics/sports in general is over-rated, over-funded, or just plain boring; take a cold shower (or go for a swim). Imagine how boring life would be if all those kids who go out and get drunk, king hit innocent people, throw rocks at buses,  lead police on high speed car chases, etc were competitive swimmers. They wouldn’t be able to do these “fun” things anymore because instead they’d be training for 2 sessions(4 hrs)/day, 5-6 days/week, 50odd weeks/year.
      Hard work from people dedicated to being the best they can be - more please!

    • SLF says:

      12:42pm | 27/07/12

      Fully agree mitchell, because swimmers don’t bash people do they?

      Swimming = the answer to all of society’s ills.

    • Mitchell says:

      01:22pm | 27/07/12

      SLF - you could be on to something there! And here I was thinking you were just boring and dumb.

    • Mattb says:

      01:32pm | 27/07/12

      mitchell and hannah

      “To all you naysayers, dogooders and dullards who think swimming/Olympics/sports in general is over-rated, over-funded, or just plain boring; take a cold shower (or go for a swim). Imagine how boring life would be if all those kids who go out and get drunk, king hit innocent people, throw rocks at buses,  lead police on high speed car chases, etc were competitive swimmers. They wouldn’t be able to do these “fun” things anymore because instead they’d be training for 2 sessions(4 hrs)/day, 5-6 days/week, 50odd weeks/year.”

      so what your suggesting is that any kid that doesnt take up swimming is just wasting time getting drunk, king hitting people or causing trouble for the police.

      Gee, nick ‘slugger’ darcy and that other silly clown who lied he was knocked over in a hit and run sort of ruin that theory.

      as for swimming, i think ill stick with surfing thanks.

      getting barrelled at somewhere like kirra
      or
      swimming back and forth in a pool

      surfing different waves all over the world
      or
      swimming back and forth in an identical pool but in a different country

      paddling out two k’s offshore and scoring awesome waves to yourself and a mate
      or
      swimming back and forth in a pool

      getting towed into waves too big to paddle into and experiencing the shear power of the ocean under your feet
      or
      swimming back and forth in a pool

      getting chased from the surf by a white
      or
      swimming back and forth in a pool

      the list goes on and i can think of dozens of other sports that crap all over swimming.

      my parents made me go to swimming training twice a week when i was ten, i hated it because, it was fu&ckin; BORING!

      face it, its a boring sport, and theres nothing wrong with that, just try not to make out its exciting cause there’s nothing ‘AWESOME’ about swimming..

    • Tank says:

      01:53pm | 27/07/12

      Yeah Mattb - surfing sure sounds awesome… have you done all these things? How often do you get barrelled at Kirra these days? Or are you just part of the lineup at your local break, cutting in on people and being a ‘locals only’ Bra boy/Da Hui stereotype while bagging out the weekend warriors?

      Maybe you found swimming boring because you just weren’t that good at it…

    • mitchell says:

      02:32pm | 27/07/12

      MattB. Love the odd barrel too. In fact I actually don’t like swimming myself (not really very good at it) and I agree that it would be boring following the black line km after km BUT that’s what makes elite athletes swimmers so special. Ask the author of this insightful piece and she too will say that the vast majority of of training is monotonous and sometimes boring and more often than not it includes lots of pain. But they know that to be competitive they HAVE to suffer. Surfing is great (which I’m sure the author would agree) - but its not even on the same planet as competitive swimming when it comes to hard work required to be successful. What you do Matt, is the equivilant to a social swimmer doing 500m twice a week for enjoyment. Don’t compare the two.

    • Mattb says:

      02:46pm | 27/07/12

      aww tank, your not a swimmer too are ya?, does the truth hurt buddy?, have i pissed you off?, im sorry bigfella.

      localism happens everywhere you surf tank, and yes, in my younger days i probably was a bit of an agro bastard in the surf, look back now and see the error of my ways. ultimately its about respect for the locals no matter where you surf.

      as for the Bra boys, i was there the night they beat the crap out of the bouncers at the cooly hotel after the kirra teams challenge presso, yes, it was good to finally see those bouncers get a bit of their own medicine back but no, violence isnt the answer to anything and the gang mentality groups like the Bra boys thrive on is poor form.

      scored some bullshit barrels out a kirra over the years, got some pretty good ones through greenmount too. kirra aint what it use to be but it can still turn it on, has done a couple of times in the past few weeks.

      my parents always said i was good at swimming, good at footy, good at cricket but i gave em all up cause all i wanted to do was surf. training for all those sports meant missing out on the after school surf!.

    • Kym says:

      11:16am | 27/07/12

      A lovely and insightful article. As a former athlete, I vividly recall the ‘sleepless night’ before the event and the psyche-out by other athletes. It alway looks so easy to the spectators (who don’t see the significant mental preparation required to compete).

    • I hate pies says:

      11:35am | 27/07/12

      Stilnox fixes the sleepless nights

    • Angela brooks says:

      12:11pm | 27/07/12

      A truly fabulous description. I lmost felt that I was competing myself. (Of course that is never going to happen)
      But I have felt the sleepless night and performance anxiety both in sport and in my work life. As you say, there is no better feeling than to know what it is like to achieve your goal and it makes all the practice and work worthwhile.

      You and all young athlestes are great role models. Well done. I am a fan.

    • Sally E says:

      01:01pm | 27/07/12

      Here here Angela - a terrific piece by Amelia. Hat goes off to all you young things (and your dedicated parents) who put so much blood sweat and tears into these dreams of excellence and achievement - us ageing couch potatoes can only look on with awe!

    • JT says:

      01:18pm | 27/07/12

      Colin says: 11:14am | 27/07/12

      Brian B says
      “Hey Colin! You’re a dick.”

      So I also see where the million$ were wasted on public education too.”

      Brian actually had it right, Colin.  You’re is the contracted form of ‘you are’.  Your smarmy retort, on the other hand, shows some grammatical deficiency.

      It appears that our tax payer dollars have helped you attain neither athletic prowess nor a good education.

    • Kika says:

      02:29pm | 27/07/12

      Amelia, can I just say you have a LOVELY surname!!! wink

      I was a swimmer too as a young lass - butterfly and backstroke. I never wanted to be ok at backstroke but found myself to be ok coz I hated the water splashing into my nose, which made me race faster so the race would be over quicker. Hahaha.

    • Mitchell says:

      04:25pm | 27/07/12

      And young Amelia (I prefer Milly the Moose) seems an intelligent, well grounded (ex) swimmer and was clearly a pretty handy flyer in her competitive years. I wonder whether Colin (the dick), MattB (“to cool for swim school”), & SLF (mmm so many possibilities with those letters) even know what lactic is?

      A poem for the knockers out there:

      I watch them tearing the buildings down;
      demolition men on my side of town;
      they tear down in a day or two;
      what others have taken years to do;
      and I wonder as I go my way, which of these roles am I going to play;
      am I a builder with ruler and square;
      dedicated to building with total care;
      or am I a KNOCKER WHO HAUNTS THE TOWN;
      content with the actions of tearing down.

      Get with the program knockers!

    • Decko says:

      10:24pm | 29/07/12

      ‘get with the program’ ,  similar to the attitude that prevails in the US where any criticism of the war is characterized as ‘criticizing our troops’ , simple way of dealing with alternative views. Same sort of thing that the athletes were saying after everyone called leisel a fatty. Love my sport, swimming is a shit spectator sport, Australians like watching it because we win lots of medals in it, not because it’s entertaining.  Australians only like winners, all that shit about the underdog loving Aussie is just that

    • Amy H says:

      03:52pm | 27/07/12

      Dear small minded people,

      How on earth did this wonderful article from a dedicated young woman turn into a debate about tax payer dollars and intellectual abilities.

      Yours sincerely,
      Someone who extremely hates people trying to make things about themselves.

    • Fly says:

      04:33pm | 27/07/12

      Completely agree, Amy H. What on earth is everyone on about? Let’s try to stay on topic, people.

    • Rob F says:

      04:45pm | 29/07/12

      Milly, awesome article. Like Angela, Sally & others said, very inspiring. Real. Punchy (appropriate for this journal!). Have passed on to the kids (teenagers) so they know they’re not alone in the occasional night staying in before a big rugby, netball or other event.
      Thanks for sharing

 

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