Saturday 12 March 2016
There are not that many times that the South London Swimming Club are invited to galas by other clubs. Maybe even less that we are invited back to? So we must thank the RAC for inviting us and Brian Daly especially for organizing the evening and donating the cup to this fixture, now in its third year. There are even fewer galas in which, with my modest swimming, I’m invited to participate; so never give up.
The first sight of the pool is a glimpse from the wide staircases bordered by imposing marble pillars. First impressions are not wrong. It is an impressive and privileged place, which makes it even more surprising that the club has been invited back, so that we can once again demonstrate our wide interpretation of the dress code. Then, whatever does ‘smart business casual’ mean?
In keeping with that first sight, the RAC clearly has attracted some class swimmers as they almost swept the board. The evening’s races were also classics in their own way. Starting with our renowned plunge (which gave the SLSC it’s only win of the evening in the first heat thanks go to Charlotte Simon). After which she was loaned to the RAC team as they were short of numbers. A problem we do not share.
Thereafter, whether standard medley or free relays, or even Old English backstroke, side stroke, doggie paddle, we proved a good second. At least the SLSC’s tortoises were slower than the RAC’s tortoises, or were we supposed to win? And I think some of us were in the sauna longer, does that count?
Gathering round upstairs for the speeches and presentations, amid the wine and canapés, we learnt that the Club would be the inaugural cup winners due to extra points being awarded for leaving South London and crossing the river, our imaginative dress sense etc. etc. until we became deserved winners. Looks like we will have to ‘defend’ the cup with a return visit, as there weren’t many takers at the RAC for the return match being at the Lido next year at 4 or 5 degrees. But then we do enjoy being on tour.
Apart from Charlotte’s win I could add one or two other firsts in the evening:
- swimming in the same relay team as a former British record holder. Priceless.
- my first ‘away’ gala with the club.
- my first indoor swim since the hotel pool at the World Winter Swimming Championship in Bled in 2010.
- my first indoor swim in the UK since well longer than I can remember; and
- most importantly my first diving race starts. Well I called them dives.
Thanks to one and all for a lovely evening.
by Chris Gore