These images were captured at a masters swimming meet I took part in. The first time I competed actually. I wasn’t able to get too many images before they asked people not to take pictures. Looking back over my favourites I was struck by a feeling, the solitude of the competitor maybe.
Yet the ageing competitor isn’t racing to beat others. His ability could be wildly different to somebody else his age. He’s racing against himself. To break his limits and achieve what he hopes is possible.
All of us can relate to this. We’re trying to be that bit more, to achieve a time, a place, a goal, a status of which we know we’re capable. We’re alone, but not lonely, in the knowledge of our potential as we step out into our chosen arenas.
What is still, calm and empty will soon be raging with life and emotion.
Others make small talk. You sit and contemplate.
With so many people around, you keep to yourself.
This is a time to be in your thoughts. To remind yourself why you stepped up.
You were alone in the countless reps that got you here. You know that the muscle memory will kick back in.
If the world thinks you are crazy, it is because you are standing when others dare not.
It will soon be time.
Before it starts you may look the same as the others.
You may start at the same time as they do.
But when you set off they see that you are different.
Raising your hand up to say, ‘This is me. This is how I do it!’
In the end, only you can know if you achieved what you thought possible.
I hope you enjoy some of these images and the sentiments behind them. Some bring a smile to my face – the backstroker in the freestyle, even though there will be a backstroke race later on – the guy standing up in the warm-up lanes, looking around like he’s just ‘quantum-leaped’ in from another planet; the various body shapes and sizes, so characteristic of masters swimming; and the water, still and reflective or frothing with action.