Well, it happened. The SAISA swim meet this year not only marked the end of this swim season, but also 8 years of school swimming for me. 3 days of the swim meet went by in what felt like an hour, and I was back in the OSC parking lot before I knew it.
From Colombo to Kathmandu
The journey began at 9:30PM on Tuesday the 15th when my uber pulled up to the front gate of OSC. The busses were set to leave at 10:00, and everyone was excited. I was excited, a little nervous, and very tired, something which didn’t make the trip there easy. While it wasn’t necessarily bad, the trip there was slightly stressful due to us almost missing the plane from Delhi to Kathmandu. Despite this, we all made it to Kathmandu, met our host families, and went home for the day.
The first day of SAISA kicked off for me at 7:00AM, when my alarm woke me. After getting ready for the day and having a very quick breakfast(the school bus showed up way sooner than we thought), we departed for the competition. Following the opening ceremony and warm-ups, the swimming began. I only had 2 events on the first day, the 100 backstroke and the 400 freestyle. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the 100 back, but I was excited for the 400 free. The 100 backstroke prelim was in the morning and the 400 free was in the afternoon. As I said, I wasn’t really that looking forward to the 100 back, but I beat my personal best by 7 seconds going from a 1:17.12 to a 1:10.07. I also managed to get into the finals which was exciting, and these would take place in the evening. I was free the rest of the morning and wisely spent it screaming my lungs out for my fellow teammates. I’m known on the OSC team for shouting loudly, and there was no shortage of that this year. At about 12:30, lunch began, though I found it hard to eat. I was really, really nervous for my 400 and didn’t want to eat too much and throw up. Eventually, I found myself sitting behind the diving blocks, with only 1 heat until my event. My seed time going in was a 5:01.67, a time that I thought I couldn’t improve on. Finally, they called us forward to stand on the blocks. My heart was racing despite my best efforts to remain calm, and I was actually shaking a little. “Take your marks,……..GO!”. Cut to what felt like an eternity later as I slammed my hand into the touch sensor, finishing my race. I turned around and the time that greeted me was 4:57.31. In retrospect, I should have been thrilled, though I was far too tired to really process anything after finishing. After crawling out of the water, I went back to cheering wildly for my team while I waited for the 100 back finals, something I was not particularly looking forward to but managed to pull 8th place. After witnessing the spectacle of the 200 freestyle relays, we had dinner at school and headed home.
The next day started slightly better than the first, with me leaving myself a little more time to get ready in the morning. I only had the 100 fly the day, and there were no finals for it, meaning I would only swim for about 1 minute the entire day. The 100 fly is one of the most daunting and feared events at SAISA, and rightly so. While I do enjoy doing butterfly as a stroke, as do many people, it becomes very, very, very tiring after doing more than 50 meters. Regardless, I was still excited. My seed time going in was 1:12.40, and I managed to do a 1:10.56, which made me happy. Since I had no events left for the day, I got changed and spent the rest of it drinking milkshakes and destroying my voice further through screaming.
The final day of the competition came alarmingly quick. The first event of the day, the 200 free, was the one I had been looking forward to the most for SAISA. Last year, I managed to get 6th place in it(despite barely practicing it), and I was looking to do better this year. We climbed onto the blocks, heard the familiar “take your marks” before “go” and I launched off the block… only to hear the frantic whistle blows and shouts in an attempt to stop us from swimming. This was because there had been a false start. In swimming, after the announcer says “take your marks” you are not allowed to move before the word “go”. In this case, somebody had moved, but they said “go” anyways. However, as we dived, they attempted to stop the race. This happened over about 2 seconds, and many of the swimmers in my heat didn’t know that there was a false start, and they kept swimming. Unfortunately for them, they wasted their energy and we had to re-do the start and the race basically immediately. Luckily for me, I had heard the whistles on my dive and had stopped right after I had hit the water. After that whole debacle, we climbed back on the blocks and started the race again without any issues. My final time was a 2:19.10, which landed me in 7th place. While I was disappointed I didn’t get 7th, I still was able to score points for the team. My next event followed almost immediately after the 200 free, and that was the 50 fly. While I’m not really a sprinter, I still had some hopes for the 50 fly. These were dashed when I got 15th place, meaning I didn’t make finals or score any points. I hadn’t even improved my personal best, which was probably the worst part. Turns out the difference between 11th place and 15th place was actually only about .3 of a second, so I guess I was close to making it. I also don’t really get to redeem myself here, since it’s my last SAISA. After the 50 fly, I got a milkshake and spent the rest of the day destroying the little that remained of my voice and helping coach doing math for points. We knew that the OSC team wasn’t going to get 1st or 2nd place, but we were really hoping for 3rd. We definitely didn’t want 4th, which we were currently in. However, all the math we were doing showed us in 4th place when the competition came to a close.
The awards ceremony came about far more quickly than I would have liked because it meant the official end of SAISA. Going into the awards ceremony, I was genuinely unsure of what was going to happen as I hadn’t been keeping that great of track on the points. All I knew was that we were probably 4th overall,
Opening ceremony(we were all squinting because they took the photo outside and the sun was directly in our eyes the entire time)
Right before the start of the 100 back
The OSC 15-19 boys