Below is an email from a former Tiger Swimmer, Neil Anderson.
Looks like you had an exciting weekend! I am so happy to see the team doing so well. I really do miss it. So much that I am getting back to it over here!
I was actually swimming quite a bit at the beginning of the year preparing for a meet in March that had swimmers coming from the entire Tohoku (eastern Japan) area, but with the March 11 earthquake/tsunami occurring, the competition site was heavily damaged among many other terrible things. The pool I normally train at was also undergoing repairs until just recently in September they reopened. Needless to say, I haven’t been in the water much since March. It has been a difficult time for all swimmers here in eastern Japan, especially since the sport brings so much joy in so many ways. Thankfully though, pools are reopening and competitions are starting up again!
This past weekend, I went to the Tohoku Masters Swimming competition in Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture. The trip is about an hour from my home in western Miyagi. Around 300 athletes with ages ranging from 18-80(older?) came to compete from all over Eastern Japan. I was entered in the 100 fly and 50 free in the 20-24 age group. I was really counting on natural talent at this point since I had only had the chance to get in the water a total of 2 times the week prior. Halloween is a busy busy time for English teachers here OK? Somehow, things turned out ok. Taking first in the 100 fly and (laughably) the 50 free felt good. It’s a feeling I have really missed, and it wasn’t just from winning either. It was the whole package. The smell, the smiles, the echoes, the laughs, and the constant stares at the (only) foreigner brought it all back. Maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. It’s the same no matter what country you’re in. I’m not hoping for “retired” swimmers to read this, go to the pool and swim 10,000 meters. That message is in no way conveyed from my previous “practice” endeavors. I do hope that if need arises for a smile, or a feel good moment that you can share with hundreds of people, find a masters meet.
Best of luck the rest of this season Coach!