Triathletes are naturally suspicious of swim competitions, as often the requirement is do something other than hours or Front Crawl, however thanks to the motivation of Antoine we found a record number of team members willing to get involved.
So many participants in fact that we dared to enter 2 teams of 8 into the competition, our strategy was clear – a strong team to challenge the other clubs, and a second team to do the best they could and create the most fun atmosphere as possible. and to cut a long story short – that is exactly what we did 😉
As is common in the weeks leading up to the event we had many changes to the proposed teams, with people dropping out and others stepping up – including Antoine who unfortunately twisted his ankle a few days before while running, happily team swim coach Bertrand came to the rescue to fill his place! Finally we finished up with a pretty strong first team, and a second team which didn’t look bad on paper either….
The day arrived and we all met in the lobby, huddling around frantic Nick who had brought team swim caps and tri-suits for everyone and was trying desperately to find the rights sizes etc… then it was off to get changed – the relatively new swimming facility made a stark change Vs our usual 70’s style Parisian pools.
We regrouped next to the pool, and then undertook the hardest part of the competition – working out what we had to do, then who was going to do what, then crucially what the hell the announcer was saying, because sound reverberated around the pool and it was almost impossible for anyone to understand what was being announced.
First up 400m 4 members of each team – Cesar, Aurelie, Bertrand and Aytug for Expat team 1 and Hilary, Igor, Cedric and Gaël for Expat team 2. All 4 swim at the same time, fastest and slowest times count so a variety of strategies were employed, but Kudos must always go to the faster swimmers who deliberately slowed down to aide the slowest.
Then came the 200m for the other 4 members, this time no strategy needed – all times would count so best for everyone to go as fast as possible, which they did – Anaîs, Joe, Camille, Louise for Expat team 1 and Nick, Kathryn, Benjamin and François for Expat Team 2.
A quick break for calculations to be done, and a pause for a Tombola giveaway, lucky participants won a variety of freebies such as T shirts and water bottles – a nice touch.
Next up the relays – 8 x 25m Back crawl x 2, then Butterfly x2 then Breast stroke x 2 then Front Crawl x2 – it was at this point when we realised that after the first rounds, the Expat 1 team was in 3rd place (behind Issy and Palaiseau) so actually in with a chance of winning ! also Expats 2 were in 8th place, and really not far behind the other ‘middle of the road’ teams ! – on realising this, everyone present (including our lone supporter Vivian – MERCI 😉 received a great motivation boost – we are not just participating – we were competing, and actually doing pretty well !!
2 disciplines left, first up 50m relay with a T shirt change between participants – the change was everything and we only had a few minutes to discuss / practise methodology before the start – Expats 2 were first up – luckily Kathryn had already practised this at Tri-camp so she set us up with the good technique, and although it lacked practise (wasn’t pretty – the first two swimmers did their 50m with goggles around their neck) but we still manage to come in 1st in our wave.
Expats 1 looked much more disciplined (see attached vid) and were close to 2nd place, but didn’t quite manage to get ahead of Palaiseau.
The final test – 100m relay – straight up, smash it out, front crawl – a triathletes dream ! Expats 2 finished strong to be the fastest in their wave and finish a solid 8th (of 12) – but the epic moment in this final was when Expats 1 (thanks to a great start) managed to get their noses ahead of Palaiseau and into 2nd place, however it was short lived as the big guns finished with their big guns (and they had several) so by the final 100m although César put in an impressive time, he was never going to catch them.
Still 3rd place Podium finish in our first ever team swim competition is something to be very proud of, and 8th for our 2nd team showed the big teams (Issy is the largest team in France but only managed to bring 1 team) that we are a force to be reckoned with – Well done everyone ;-))))