Last weekend (June 24-26), I competed in the 2011 Peruvian National Short-Course Master’s Swim Meet. I’ve been swimming for my entire life, but never really thought I’d be able to say that I competed in a national competition outside of my home country! Near the end of my exchange last April, I found a small group of master’s swimmers that were training at a pool close to my house. When I left the country two months later, that group had doubled in size. When I came back eleven months later, I found that group to be almost three times bigger! Out of a group of fifteen masters-level swimmers, about nine show up any given day, bright and early at 7 am to practice. We belong to the “Aqualab” club, which also has a group of swimmers (mostly older women) who practice at another pool in San Isidro. I’d say we were one of the bigger clubs at the competition.
Most of the Aqualab Club that was at the competition
Swimming is not a widely practiced sport in Peru, which makes for a less competitive, more friendly atmosphere. Most of the competitors who have been swimming for any more than two years seemed to know most of the other competitors in their division. Within the three days I spent at the pool, I conversed with just about everyone in my division (women 18-24) as well (not a difficult feat, considering there were less than a dozen). This also makes it possible for anyone and everyone to go to the national championship, no matter where it is. Most of the competitors were from Lima, but there were also swimmers from Trujillo and Arequipa. We took advantage of the vacation to get to know the city as well! [See Kate’s Blog for a more traditional vacation in Trujillo!]
The San Borja Group at the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo
This friendly atmosphere was also apparent in the “Dinner of Friendship and Good Sportsmanship” which took place Saturday night. It was held at the same country club that we spent the day swimming at, but at 9:30 pm in the grand pavilion. The dinner itself seemed remarkably small by swimmers standards (most of us ended up going to by cookies and other more filling foods later), but the friendship and sportsmanship was definitely present.
Dancing around 11 pm the night before a competition!
As with most Peruvian parties, there was a ‘Show’ of sorts, complete with music ranging from Kumbia to Reggaeton to Hora Loca (crazy hour), all of which sung by the same guy, minus a few Karaoke tunes sung by various members of the swimming community. There were people of all ages and clubs dancing until 11:30, when most people decided it would be better to go rest for their races the next day. My group obviously didn’t care too much about those races, since we all stayed out ‘till 3 am. At 2:30 am, a few of us decided to invade the Quinciñera (huge sweet 15 Birthday celebration) that was happening on the other side of the club. We only managed to stay for a few songs of “La Hora Loca” before the mother of the birthday girl yelled at us to “get going.”
Can you spot the the swimmers? Hint, we got kicked out a few minutes later for being under-dressed.
Despite our late night, the majority of my team did well in their races on Sunday. The top 5 places for the Men’s “technical mark” (award for coming closest to the world record) trophy were won by my team, as well as 3 of the top 10 for the women’s trophy. Arriba Aqualab!
The Group with our Medals
Coach Victor & I
The weekend ended with a trip to a tourist restaurant and a visit to Huanchaco beach! It was beautiful. We arrived an hour before sunset (5ish) and stayed chilling in the sand until the majority of the group had to go to airport to return to Lima and I had to find the bus station to Cajamarca to meet up with Kate for another great adventure! [To be continued!]
The Group in Huanchaco Beach
Jacqui is a volunteer and researcher for the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.