It was such a different experience altogether this time at the recent Ultra Aquathlon in Putrajaya, Malaysia where I participated in the 300m swim and 2km run for Juniors under-15.
I had recently joined and started training with the triathlete club, Tri-Amateur and I could feel the great community spirit from the members. The entire club was laughing, taking group pictures, and briefing each other about the race courses just as the day had begun.
It was different to have people I actually knew racing together with me, but it was amazing to finally be able to talk to someone casually before the race began. It helped me relieve stress.
My heart was barging against my chest as I stood just at the edge of the wooden platform. I remembered hearing the rumour about the lake. They said that it was more than 10 meters deep…what if I drowned and got lost down there? Would they even notice? I didn’t know the answer, but there was no turning back now. The time had come. I jumped onto another wooden platform, and waded a little into the lukewarm water as the countdown began.
3-2-1-HOOOONNNNKKKK. And we were off!
I dived swiftly into the eerie green lake, and away from the safety of the land. My stomach twisted into a knot as reality hit me. I was in the mists of the unknown. Zigzagging through the other girls around me, I sped forward towards the large bulky bouy in the horizon. But just as I paddled up to the surface, her hand came. It hit my face, knocking off my goggles.
I panicked, water splashed in my face, fear enveloped me. I was an ant in honey. Alone, helpless, and scared. I desperately grasped for my goggles and crammed them back on awkwardly. My heart sank and tears pricked the corners of my eyes as I realized the large amount of people that had passed me.
A strange mixture of disappointment, anger, and a sprinkle of hope filled me. Yes, of course I was upset and angry, but I realized that there was no point in sulking. There was no point in doing anything else, but to move on, and to finish this race!
I began kicking with all my might as I sprinted to keep up with all those ahead of me. I didn’t dare to look back, as I was scared of what I would see. I was scared that I would see no one. I was scared of being last.
Yet above all that fear, I forced myself to remember all the training with Tri-Amateur. I made myself think of all the people watching me. And I knew that I wouldn’t disappoint them. Not today, not ever.
Pushing to the limits, I sped forward, passing those whom had overtaken me before. A glimmer of hope began to fill me as I continued pushing on. I knew that I was getting closer to that glorious moment of victory, where my worries about this race would be over. Inch by inch, I was getting closer to the finish. But I had to get there first.
One stroke closer to the finish
It wasn’t long before the bright yellow bouy was right in front of me. I did a quick turn around it, and began swimming to the swim finish platform. My arms and legs screamed in agony at me, but somehow I managed to climb onto the platform.
Exhausted, but alive. A huge wave of relief overwhelmed me as I ran towards to transition area, while tearing off my cap and goggles. I succeeded at having a rather short transition time, and rushed off as soon as I had my shoes and bib on.
It was supposed to be a short run, but the path seemed to go for ages. There was a girl in front me almost throughout the race, and I wouldn’t let her stay in front, so I paced myself, not too fast, but just fast enough to keep with her. I stayed that way, until the glorious sight of the finish line came into view. It was about 200 meters forwards, a U-turn, and another 200 meters to the finish! I sprinted ahead, keeping up with the girl. Suddenly, I began to doubt that I could beat her at all.
Perhaps it was the cheering or seeing my mother’s face in the crowd. Perhaps it was me, yelling at myself from the inside to run, but I did it. With all the strength left in me, I sprinted.
It all happened in a blur and I remember only the cheers, and the leap of happiness as I passed her. A fountain of joy exploded inside me, as I crossed that finish line, meters ahead of her. It was a moment of self-achievement.
It was a special experience for me, as I had never swam in a lake before, and it was so different from the safe scent of chlorine, and the comforting view of clear pool water. It was strange contrast compared to the warm, green fish-smelling lake. It was strange that there wasn’t a bike to climb on after the swim. I was rather unhappy with my result, but there is time to improve, and to make myself better than who I was then. I will continue to improve, because I am a triathlete!
More about the budding triathlete
12 year old Angie Liew is a petite girl who just loves the feeling of wind blowing through her hair. Introduced to sports and triahtlon by her father, she’s loving it and just won’t stop! Angie currently trains under the TRI-AMateur Triathlon Club and is a Year 8 student of Tenby International School.