Saturday, October 14, 2006

Swim Meet

Given Abigail's love of all things pool-related and the fact that there are very few opportunities for children here to get together in large numbers and compete, it was no surprise when, a couple of weeks after term started, she declared that she wanted to try out for the school swim team.

Competitive swimming is taken pretty seriously among the international schools in the Kingdom and several schools employ professional coaches. The British School team used to be called The Barracudas but have now changed their name to the Tiger Sharks (Barracudas are continuing and are now our arch rivals!).

Every child that tried out for the team was given a place in the school's four-squad model:
  • Junior Development
  • Junior Elite
  • Senior Development
  • Senior Elite

Abigail is in the Senior Elite squad which means she's a competent swimmer in the senior age bracket. There are lots of children in the squad who are faster than she is right now, but she's only just started proper training so we expect her times to improve quickly.

The field of battle

Yesterday (Friday) was the first official Swim Meet of the season. Six teams met at a residential compound at 7am Friday morning for a full program of heats in several events. Yes, I did say 7am. And Friday is our Sunday remember, so several Mums and Dads were a little bleary eyed. Five-thirty am is not my favourite time to get up at the weekend, particularly when we only got to bed after a party some three hours before. If there had been a Bleary Eye competition for the parents we'd have been tough to beat.

The warm-up

Coach Butch gives a last-minute pep talk

Abigail preparing mentally while she gets ready

"On your marks..."


Not Abigail but a good photo!

Abigail in action

She won her backstroke heat!

"I mean business!"

The event was long, hot, and tiring but the children all seemed to enjoy themselves, which is the most important thing. I'd say there must've been about two hundred children competing, more against their own best times than against each other. Abigail swam in three events: 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke. She won her backstroke heat (we were so proud!) but was disqualified from the breaststroke heat for executing an illegal turn - lesson learned.

There are similar meets planned for every Friday in November so we'll have to try and have early nights on Thursdays while we look forward to Abigail's times improving with each event.

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