Saturday, March 9, 2013

Swim Open on Jordan Time

The National Swim Open was held over the past three days, in three different locations.  Rebecca only wanted to swim one race, the 50Free, which happened to be held at the Orthodox Club, a mere 5 minute drive from home.  That's a long way from yesterday's meet that was held in Irbid.  It seems only 3 or 4 of our swimmers drove to Irbid, and less than 30 swimmers overall made the trek.  Part of it was the races held there, long distance swims that little kids (the majority of the swimmers) and sprinters wouldn't do.

One side note, an Open is for any swimmer who wants to participate.  It's not based on teams, but individuals.

The pool is decent at the Orthodox club yet during warm-ups the pool easily had 100-150 kids practicing dives, turns, and swimming laps.  It was chaos.  The guy on the microphone spoke really loud, fast, and muffled and all in Arabic.  I'd like to think that if spoken a little slower and perhaps not as though he was eating the mic, even us lowly folk could have understood the races and names being called.

So we arrived at 3:30.  Warm-ups from 3:45 to 4p.m., and then we sat.  What we didn't know was the order of the races, heat sheets were not available before the meet. The 50Free was scheduled last.  Dead last.  Even if we did know the order of the races it's not below the organizers to shift race order at a seeming whim so even with it last it could have been moved to 3rd to last.  Or first.  Who knew?  As it turned out, she was in heat #56 out of 58, or something like that, and there was a break in the middle to award medals for the first half of the heats so that took time as well.  At 6p.m. we were checking the clock.  At 7p.m. she was nearly up.  Becca did her single race in a very decent time. In <30 seconds it was over.

The second medal ceremony began.

Races were run according to year of birth.  Those born most recent raced first in each type of race... 25m Breaststroke kids born in 2005.... 2004... 2003... etc.  50m Breastroke kids born in 2005.... 2004... 2003... etc.  The 50m Freestyle was the last race, one of the most popular races, and Becca is a 1997 kid.  A December 97 kid, in fact, so she would race against people born throughout 1997.  I know there is no way to make it truly fair, you can't break meet races down to "Kids racing 50m Freestyle born in Dec 1997" but it sure would be nice.  As it turned out, there are roughly a million little kids who swim, and a handful of older kids.

The awards ceremony, like every other part, was chaotic.  Even better (and I say that with sarcasm) was when the medals were given out until roughly the 12-13 year olds.  The mic guy said "Shukran, Shukran" and they started bagging up the remaining stacks of medals.

You should have seen the swarm of older kids descend on this guy when he simply stopped handing out awards even though there were still a dozen medals to be handed out for the older kids.

It was 7:30 p.m., did they run out of time to have the pool?  Was the guy tired of doing it? We'll never know.  We stayed around and let Rebecca work with her coach to talk with the guy along with several other older swimmers

As it turned out, Rebecca was in a single heat of three, the oldest girls for the race and it would seem, at the entire meet.  She got a silver.

But wait, there's more.

One of the girls was way older than her.  I guess the fact that she was easily 10 inches taller than Becca gave that away, but that also meant she wasn't technically swimming against her either.  She led the race by about 8 strokes.  The other girl beat Becca by about 5 strokes, so that was a bit of a bummer too.

The thing is, both those girls swim on the national team.  One of them was an Olympian at the last Olympics.

To say Becca was overwhelmed is an understatement.  She swam her heart out and afterwards said she didn't even recall the race, the rush of adrenaline was clear.  She had a great start and turn and pushed herself to keep within a few lengths.

OK, so Jordan isn't known for its swimmers, having no water kind of limits your options, but still, that was pretty cool for a 15yo kid.  She can say she swam with an Olympian.

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