I have decided that I have to be more honest about the lead-up to that meet. Yes, I was nervous about competing with kids, even though I was really just supposed to be thinking about improving my racing techniques and achieving a better time.
But the real thing is that I have been very frustrated and anxious about my swimming recently, so the prospect of a competition, which might show diminished abilities, was scary.
I think it is the return to full-time work combined with regularly ramping up the swimming yardage--a bargain at twice the price--that was wiping me out. But you know how all that goes: you feel tired, so then you don't swim well, but then because you feel tired, you feel doubly shitty about the whole thing. And then (because you're tired) you freak out about it, and then have trouble sleeping (causing guess what).
In the best of all possible worlds, my coach would have seen all this going on and offered me some of those peppy encouraging words that coaches seem to live and breathe, but I don't think he knew what was up until I told him. Then he was very nice, but this was after the crisis had abated, because who wants to admit a crisis in the middle of one?
But in part because of the meet, and in part because of some solutions I have come up with to make all this work better, and in part because I think walls can only stand up to so much head-bashing, these feelings are passing, and I have renewed (if revised) hope for my season.
And May 11 is a long way off.