Charlie’s Meet

I have a very competitive friend.  Naturally, he doesn’t like to lose so when his all-important swim club was hosting a joint carnival with other swim clubs, there was not only honour at stake – there were trophies.  And all of the four trophies had eluded this swim club for years and my competitive friend was making sure this was the year the club’s fortunes were reversed.

A few days ago he rang me with an SOS.  The carnival with all the trophies at stake was on Sunday.  Could I possibly find it within me to help out.  ‘You don’t have to do well, all you have to do is swim; we get points for every person that enters a race.  It’s all about the points’.  What could I do – I had a friend in need.

‘Can you do all the strokes?’ he asked.

‘Not really.  I can pretty much only just do freestyle and I can’t really even dive properly.  I always lose my goggles’.

‘Don’t worry.  I’ll put you in the 50 free and the relays.  We get big points for relays’.


So on Sunday morning I was as tense as a board feeling worried sick about racing in an ocean pool that had swell and poor visibility due to the horrid weather we’ve been having due to constant rain.   At least it wasn’t raining on the day of the carnival.

The weather could have been better.

The weather could have been better.

I arrived at 1pm with Carl and Alfie.  As soon as my friend saw Alfie he said, ‘Can he swim?’

‘Not well’.

‘Great.  We’ll put him in the 50 free’.

So without further ado Alfie was standing on the starting blocks ready for his big race.  Off he went and he slalomed up the pool getting tangled in one side of the lane rope and then the other.  But he made it to the other end and came third.

Alfie borrowing my bathing cap and getting ready for his event - no time for nerves

Alfie borrowing my bathing cap and getting ready for his event – no time for nerves

Alfie finishes his race.

Alfie finishes his race.

‘I came last’, said Alfie.

‘You came third and you got a ribbon and lots of points for the club’.

‘There were only three in the race, mum’.

‘Doesn’t matter.  Third is third and a ribbon is a ribbon’.

Alfie with his ribbon.

Alfie with his ribbon.

Race 19 was my big moment.  I was in Lane 2 with no one in Lane 1.  It wasn’t a good start.  Carl said I was last to leave the blocks but they were very slippery blocks and they move with the tide and the swell.  My goggles filled with water and I couldn’t see with my head in or out of the water.  I was no better than Alfie, swimming slalom style as the swell moved me from one side of the lane rope to the next.  At one stage I had to stop to de-tangle myself.  This was much more difficult than swimming in a wet-edge pool where you just have to follow a black line.  However, despite my late start and my encounters with the lane ropes, I came second and won a ribbon!

Just dreading my first event.  (That's me in the purple cap).  Look at the competitive woman two lanes up!

Just dreading my first event. (That’s me in the purple cap). Look at the competitive woman two lanes up!

Me in the purple cap.  Last to leave the starting blocks and shocking dive style.  Just look at the professional two lanes up.

Me in the purple cap. Last to leave the starting blocks and shocking dive style. Just look at the professional two lanes up.

Next was Race 24 and the all-important relay.  Each club had to enter 16 swimmers and I was one of them.  The club that won this relay would win one of those four trophies.  I was swimmer number 10 and I dived in and my goggles were still where they were meant to be and I could see a little better and so had not so many delays reaching the other end due to the lane ropes.  Our relay team won the race and of course the trophy by about two and a half laps.  I relaxed and put my tracksuit on and sat down to enjoy the rest of the meet as a spectator.

Next thing, the marshaling person was yelling, ‘Charlie.  Where’s Charlie?’  And I stood up and my friend was looking for me as well and he said, ‘We need you in the 50 back’.

‘I don’t do backstroke’.  And I certainly didn’t want to do it in this pool where I would have no ability to see where I was going and with no bunting near the end of the pool you wouldn’t know if you were about to bang into the wall that was covered in barnacles.  Many were leaving the pool with blood running down their shins and arms like they’d been sliced open with a razor.

‘I need someone in the pool now for the 50 back’, he yelled.

‘Oh, okay’, I said and I started stripping down to my swimsuit and I reached in my bag for my cap and goggles and he said, ‘You don’t need them, it’s too late, they’re all in the water’.  But I grabbed them anyway and climbed down to the blocks and jumped in and ‘bang’ the race started and off I went and can you believe, I actually swam in a straight line.  How did that happen?

'What am I doing?' I scream, 'I can't do backstroke'.

‘What am I doing?’ I scream, ‘I can’t do backstroke’.

50mtrs Backstroke - the race I said I wouldn't go in!

50mtrs Backstroke – the race I said I wouldn’t go in!

I finished 4th but it was a mixed race and so actually finished 2nd against the women and went up to collect my ribbon and they wouldn’t give me one.  ‘Sorry, it’s a mixed race and we’re only giving them out to the first three place getters like usual.  You got points for your club though’.  That didn’t appease me.  I wanted a ribbon.

Then I was asked to swim in the 50 breast stroke.  I sent Carl to the shops to get me a soft drink.  I needed an energy hit.  I did the 50 breast and that was a mixed event too so again, I came 4th but actually 2nd so no ribbon there either, just club points.

Well I was certain then it was over but I kid you not, there were more relays.  I then had to swim in the 17-39 relay (and we all know I’m not in that age bracket, sadly) and we came first.  Straight after that I was in the 40-49 relay and we won that too.  Then there was the relay for the 20 best swimmers in your club and our club had two teams entered and I was put in the slower group and I think we finished 2nd last.

Okay, so the sunglasses with the bathing cap with the goggles around the neck is not what the stylist recommended.

Okay, so the sunglasses with the bathing cap with the goggles around the neck is not what the stylist recommended.

That wrapped the meet and I was purple with cold because I’d been in and out of the water seven times on a cloudy day that wasn’t too warm and I was exhausted.  This hadn’t been my typical Sunday.  Then it was off to the showers and then on with the sausage sizzle where those elusive four trophies, one for the relay, one for the juniors, one for the seniors and one to the club for the highest points were awarded and all won by our club and are now locked behind glass cabinets in the club room for all to admire – for the next 12 months.

Happy to help.



  1. Wow sounds like a pretty energetic day but you did really well! Congrats on all the ribbons (and the metaphoric ones you should have ended up with as well!)

  2. You are damn good friend and can rock a speedo cozzie very well.

  3. What a trooper you are, Charlie, and really good of you to do all that work for a friend. I cracked up at can Alfie swim? I hope you fed him lots of sausages after, he’s nearly see-through. 🙂

    Seeing your smile makes me miss you.

  4. Amazing group of races you participated in, Charlie and congratulations on all the ribbons. You’re a trooper, girl. 🙂

  5. Sounds like you’ve had a major workout day, but in the end that’s what friends are, to help other friends in need, right? 🙂

  6. I think your friend owes you. Perhaps he’d allow you to borrow the trophies for awhile to display in your home.

  7. Wow, what a day for you and Alfie, you both are great troopers and real friends. Congratulations to you, Alfie and your swim club.

  8. Dear Charlie,

    I think you did a lot better than what you said you could. Really good of you to help a friend and congrats on the ribbons. Well done.

  9. That Alfie is so adorable! Love that he didn’t mind wearing your purple cap, hehe. And wow, you did an awful lot at that meet considering you were doing someone a favor. Sounds like you did great though, congrats!

  10. You really are a good friend! Seven times?! Poor Alfie too, at least he got a ribbon. You did rather well for not beinga great swimmer…great job!

    Nazneen xx

  11. I’ve recently switched my food blog over to be self-hosted which I hope will make it more user-friendly in the future. As a result, if you were following Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen via email, WordPress, or using RSS feeds through Google Reader or some other way, you are no longer subscribed. If you wish to continue receiving future posts from my blog you will need to re-subscribe. Sorry for the inconvenience, Teresa.

  12. Whoa!!! You deserve to be bought quite a few dinners to make up for your having to run all those races on the spot. And you did so well in them!

  13. Congratulations Charlie, you did much better than you expected. And it was great for Alfie too, he is really such an adorable kid. I’m sorry that your weather is not so good; first you had to deal with the ridiculous heat and now the rains, I’m guessing this is not normal. Is it still summer or are you into fall now? We are still in the throws of winter, but at least it’s sunny today. The dreary grey days can be so depressing.
    Glad you were able to win the trophy for your swimming club!

  14. I’m going to start calling you “Wonder Woman,” Charlie! You’re amazing! What a good sport you are just to be willing under those conditions, but then to do so well–I’m truly impressed. It sounds to me like you are a much better swimmer than you typically claim to be. And Alfie has your sense of fun and cooperation. Good for him. You are a most remarkable family! 🙂

  15. Hehe, all I can say is “you’re a good sport Charlie”!

  16. Well done! This is my idea of one of the seven layers of hell.

  17. I am totally impressed. I couldn’t have done it. Also, how great that Alfie received a ribbon. As you said, “A ribbon is a ribbon.” Good for him. And for you. Kudos all around.

  18. What a star you are, Charlie! And a good friend too – taking a day out to help when you’ve been so flat out with other things! xx

  19. Congrats on the ribbons my friend, seems like a really fun event 😀


  20. Well done, well done! Such a pleasure to read and with great photographs too. Deserving of all those ribbons!

  21. Charlie, you don’t deserve a ribbon, you don’t deserve a trophy- you deserve a MEDAL! What an awesome friend you must be indeed, great job 🙂 xox

  22. Way to go Charlie! I don’t think I could swim more than a few laps. I’ve never been a great swimmer. You did amazingly! The ribbons and the smile say it all. Way to go for Alfie too! 🙂

  23. I’m exhausted just reading about it Charlie but well done! I hope you and Alfie are displaying your ribbons somewhere special.

  24. Fantastic Charlie!!! Congratulations, you did so well. You must be proud of yourself, I am 😀 And Alfie, awww, he is just adorable.

  25. I’ve got endurance, but not speed. You’d kick my butt!

  26. Congrats Charlie 🙂 You did an amazing job! I knew you were an amazing swimmer a bummer how they wouldn’t give you ribbons!!!

    Good work for Alfie too 😀

  27. What a great job you did! Well done in taking one for the team on that cold and gloomy day.

  28. You are such a GOOD sport and friend!!! I would be belly-flopping into the water if I ever had to race…you look like a pro to me!!!! Congrats!

  29. You’re a great friend Charlie (although we knew that anyway) and I can’t believe how much you swam-that’s absolutely brilliant! 😀

  30. You are a true champion! Not only for competing but for doing so well. And they got the cups! I can do all the strokes except butterfly but I am a slow swimmer, or so I have been told. But I get there in the end and haven’t drowned yet. But I certainly don’t have your courage and would have conveniently had a headache or something.

  31. You’re a legend Charlie – a legend!! Go you!! A friend in need (in the cold sea on a grey day) is a friend indeed.

    Hope you had a bracing hot cocoa and rum to warm you up.

  32. Kudos Charlie! You are a super star of a friend!
    🙂 Mandy xo

  33. Wow. What a good friend you are! The thought of swimming in an outdoor pool like that terrifies me, and the thought of swimming strokes I don’t really do on short notice even more so! It sounds like you did brilliantly, and you look very professional to me xx

  34. Go Charlie! You also rock the sunglasses/cap/goggles look. 😉

  35. Well done!

  36. You never cease to amaze me hun. You are a woman of many talents. Are you going to pin your ribbons to your bedroom wall 😉 xx

  37. Wow, what a great job! I bet your friend was very pleased. I think you look perfectly fine with the cap, goggles, sunglasses look! 😉 Alfie is such a cutie pie!

  38. Well done Charlie! You’re such a good friend, and you rock the bathers and sunnies look don’t you worry!

  39. You’re a very brave girl for even entering! Wow, I’m impressed.

  40. Earlier this week, when you mentioned you were going to participate in a swim meet, you didn’t mention it was a heptathlon. Goodness, Charlie! Glad to see it wasn’t all for naught: both you and Alfie have ribbons and the club got the trophies.
    Will you be back next year?

  41. Charlie, that’s marvelous! Can’t imagine what it would be like to swim in a swell — bravo for “just doing it!” I’m inspired.

  42. Kris Radge says:

    You are hysterical Charlie!!! I love your fighting Spirit. What a hoot that Alfie was in for it all too. xx

  43. Haha I’m a terrible swimmer so there was no way I’d agree to do this, let alone in open water and in those conditions! You’re a good sport, Charlie, good on ya!

  44. I get tired just reading about it… Good job! 😉

  45. wow amazing effort! congrats!

  46. This was so much fun to read.. having experienced the zig zagging of swimming backstroke myself this year! I’m so proud of you, Charlie, plus you set such a great example for your son.. you’re such a good sport joining in all those races. I’m sure your participation was what helped your team win all of those trophies! xx

  47. Congrats on such a fabulous swim! I can see how difficult it would be in an open ocean pool like that…truly blind, but look at you with your ribbons! Bravo!

  48. Congrats, Charlie! You did well! Congrats to your youngest son too! Waw! xxx
    you look good & great, my friend! 🙂 Sophie approved! xxx

  49. what a good sport you are! I hope someone cooked up some warming food for you after all that.

  50. You did well. Sounds like a ton of fun! And it’s great that Alfie came in third! 😉 Really fun read – thanks.

  51. Congrats to you and Charlie!

  52. Sweet little Alfie, what a good sport he is too. I dont think Skater would have raced when he was Alfies age. Congratulations on your ribbons it sounds like you deserved them.

  53. You guys are like 2 peas in a pod. You go girl!

  54. For more than half my life your writing has caused me to laugh out loud! I can’t tell you how happy I am that because of the www the whole world gets to enjoy you now. I’m such a fan! Love you Charlie xx

  55. Charlie, I’m so proud of you! I love your positive attitude and I see your children getting it from you! Your super positive comment to Alfie and his response crack me up!!

  56. Kudos to you Charlie(!!) especially on the backstroke…I never was very good at that. 🙂

  57. Good job and good sport you are!


  1. […] had three couples coming for dinner, my friend Jen and her husband who do a lot of entertaining, Mr Competitive and his wife, and you might remember my friends Rich and Deb who married a few months ago.  All […]

  2. […] The situation was that there was a carnival coming up at Northbridge Baths where his club would be competing against two other clubs.  He had some spots that needed filling and could we fill the gaps.  ‘And don’t worry, Charlie, I won’t make you swim in as many races as last time‘. […]

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