It's been about 5 months, but this past Saturday night, August 1st, was the closest experience to the 'old reality' I've had since the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns began in earnest back in mid-March. Along with my family, I got to experience two events that brought me joy, engaged me with a community outside of the 'bubble' of our household, and reminded me of what life has the possibility of being -
Swimming in a race
Cheering on the Toronto Raptors
Facebook gets a bad rap, but, when used as I do - as "Swim Book" - it's a great venue for keeping in touch with the global swimming community and getting tipped off to and connected with the local swimming scene.
When I first arrived in Canada in January of 2019, I swam with the ever-so-welcoming Richmond Hill Masters Swim Club for three months before we moved up to the Barrie area. A couple of weeks ago, someone from the Richmond Hill team posted a Facebook message about an open water 'festival' being hosted at a quarry in the town of Caledon. Though the race organizers, working in conjunction with local health authorities, had to make some adaptations to the final set of races that were run, the event went off with:
Four races - 1500m, 200m, 400m, 800m
Physically distanced heats - 10 swimmers at a time, one minute apart
Single loop setup to minimize passing and swimmer contact
Great fun by all
I managed to convince my middle daughter to swim the 1500m first race with me, and my wife and youngest daughter came along to make a night of it. completed with a great post-race, patio meal at Barley Vine Rail in nearby Orangeville.
It was such an extreme treat to be able to race again. My last event racing against real-live humans was a pool competition in early March. I've been doing a number of fun virtual open water races, especially this great one, but, for me, nothing provides the same level of excitement and motivation as racing and chasing others.
As a frame of reference for how motivational a real race is for me, consider this:
My recent solo 1500 meter open water swim time as part of the Virtual Grand Slam was 23:56.10
At this event, I went 20:33! **
Maybe I'm just too damn competitive, but racing others, being in the mix with the community of swimmers, just pushes me to go harder, to be better ... and leaves me feeling euphoric.
And, if the great swim, the time with my family, and a fantastic dinner wasn't enough, when we got home, we pulled up the PVRd game #1 of the NBA return and got to watch the Raptors start back their title run by taking down LeBron James and the Lakers!
I can honestly say this was the best Saturday night of 2020!
** Even though the course, according to my Garmin Swim 2 watch, was only 1470 meters, I was still WAY faster than swimming by myself.