Not as good as she had hoped ... but well done Linda Crawford
Thank you and the club's wishes for me at the World Masters Swimming Championships which are held every two years. Unfortunately I only received this message on my return due to our laptop not behaving and lack of internet connections when it was. Internet cafes appear to be a thing of the past in the
US and therefore we were unable to get all our e-mails. Wi-fi is the in thing for your own computer.
My swimming was not as good as I hoped it would be and I only did my best time in one of the five races I swam. There were about 7500 competitors from about 80 different countries. The oldest was a 93 year old lady! On a few occasions an overworked official said something to me and then looked at me and slowly said' "Do you speak English"?
I said, "Yes, but you don't".
The US certainly has a language of it's own. e.g When not swimming that day, you were not allowed onto the pool deck and could go and sit in the "Bleachers" to watch????? I later discovered "Bleachers" were the stands. A swimming "costume" is something you wear at Halloween!
The competition was held at Stanford University in Palo Alto which is just outside San Francisco. It has a complex of 5 pools, 2 which are Olympic size in which we raced alternating each day for men and women which were being swum concurrently. The other 3 were warmup and cool down pools for before and after the race. In these half Olympic pools each lane was marked as to what you could do, e.g. Dive and sprint, general warmup etc and these were swum anticlockwise and were very full. The women's change rooms even had a spin dryer for wet "costumes".
The Americans do everything on computer and if we wanted to know which heat we were swimming in or the results, we had to go on the internet, although they eventually posted them up in the complex. All this information was also translated into a few languages on the internet.
After we finished the week's "meet", FINA, the organising body, organised a swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco for the Master Swimmers. One of the rowing clubs were against it due to it being neap tide and a six foot current would be coming in. The organisers worked out that there would be a small window of opportunity to do this swim and we had to be very punctual.
About 200 of us jumped from the height of about 2.5 m from the boat in threes and had to swim away from it as fast as possible to let the next three jump in. I wore a wet suit and was sorry I did as there had been a heat wave and the water was about 18 degrees which was bearable and the wetsuit cut me very badly around my shoulders and neck. The swim was very easy (easier than my 200m butterfly race) and I completed the 1.2 miles (plus currents) in about 40 minutes. We were then treated to Clam Chowder and other very nice eats and drinks and given a T-shirt to commemorate the swim.
A friend and I then left straight afterwards and drove out to Yosemite. The following day we hired bicycles and cycled the Yosemite floor. We saw some deer and a bear. We saw the crazy rock climbers clinging to the face of "El Capitein" where they had spent the night dangling in hammocks attached to the cliff face. We stopped and swam in the icy waters of the Merced river. After that we drove up to the Glacial Point view point at about 1000 ft which were magnificent. Although it was summer we could see snow on the higher mountains.
From Yosemite we drove to the coast to Ventura near Santa Barbara to where we hired kayaks to explore Anacapa Channel Island with a guide. This particular island had a lot of caves which we went into on the kayaks and saw the most wonderful light displays which came in through various openings elsewhere and were defracted under the clear water. A sea lion popped it's head up a few metres from me and a bottom feeding shark swam lazily under my kayak We then managed to snorkel a little while waiting for the ferry to collect us from the island.
All too soon everything came to an end and after spending a couple of days in LA with a friend we faced the reality of going through the tight security checks for our transatlantic crossing to London and home.