Small Town News

Guest Opinion

In swimming, 500 is the loneliest number that you'll ever do

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

- Advertisement -


I'm going to come out and say it: I hate participating in team sports. I love watching other people play team sports and work together, but I was not wired that way. I can be fairly competitive and can get tunnel vision sometimes, so I preferred competing in individual sports like swimming.

This past weekend, I was taken back to my swimming days as I covered the Shelton High-climbers at the 3A Narrows League swim meet at Mount Tahoma. When I swam, I was a distance swimmer. I competed in the 200-yard freestyle, the 500-yard freestyle, the 400-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay. If you add that up, that comes to 34 laps up and down a pool, or 1,300 yards.

The 500-yard freestyle is the one of the toughest events to swim. As I watched Shelton junior Ryan Youngquist compete Jan. 29, he pulled out to an early lead and kept it the entire race. When he touched the wall, Ryan had trimmed 10 seconds off his seed time.

As I talked to him, he said without the counters he wouldn't know how many laps he did. During the 500, there are plastic squares with numbers that teammates shove into the water by the wall for the swimmer to see as they come in to do a flip turn. I can agree with Ryan and say that without counters, I would have lost count as well.

One of the hardest parts about the 500 is pacing yourself. You want to start out fast, but not too fast, because you have 20 laps to do. It's even harder when you lap people and have to pace yourself. Nobody likes swimming the 500 except the people who swim it.

As the distance swimmer, I got thrown into most of the long events. After the 500-yard freestyle is the 200-yard freestyle relay. So after I swam 20 laps, I literally had to pull myself out of the water and get behind the block for another swim. The hardest part was switching gears from being conservative to going all out.

But one of the worst parts about being the distance swimmer was sticking around until the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. By the time that event rolled around, we were all usually tired. My other teammates usually were changed into street clothes and were waiting for us to swim.

After you sprinted out a final 100 yards, everyone wanted to leave right away. While your teammates were dressed and dried, I rode home wet and in a swimsuit.

Even though being a distance swimmer led to long days, literally and mentally, it was one of the best feelings in the world. While I appreciated people who could spring up and down the pool in 30 seconds, there is something satisfying about swimming the most yards in a meet.

Swimming is one of the toughest sports, but to grind out 1,300 yards in a short amount of time is a feat that only few people can tackle.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: February 4, 2016

More from Shelton-Mason County Journal