There is a very famous photo of Princess Diana – I mean, there are millions of famous photos of Princess Diana but I’ll mention just one. It was taken at Prince William’s Elementary School on the day of the Athletics Carnival. They ran a mother’s race and Princess Diana took part as a competitor. In the photo it looks like she won but she actually didn’t. But no one was interested in photographing the winner, all eyes were on Diana and she did make herself look like the winner with that victory display of arms in the air.
That was in 1989. Fast-forward a few years and Archie and Arabella were at primary school. I discovered that at the Swimming Carnival there would be a Mother’s Race and if you won and broke the existing record you would have your name permanently etched into the school’s history books.
That appealed to me.
So I set about on a rigorous training program of five swim squads per week together with consultations from my coach. Carl was up in arms about how much this was all costing. I told him I wouldn’t hear a word of negativity as I had set myself on a path to glory and couldn’t he just think of a way to fund my new obsession.
The record for the Mother’s Race was held by a mother who’d swum competitively for years, and her record was very long-standing. But I had spoken to my swimming coach about this woman and my coach said, ‘Don’t worry about Deb, I know her, you’re faster, you’ll beat her record by a couple of seconds.’
The day of the Carnival arrived and it’s a terrible confession but I wasn’t too focused on what events the children were doing because I was very geared up for my 50 metres freestyle event. I was hopeful that at the end of the day I would be on the dias with the new record for the Mother’s Race being announced over the loud speaker.
So with the assurance from the coach that it was a sure thing I was extremely optimistic. Archie and Arabella swam in their events and I have no recollection of how they did but know it wasn’t memorable. All was fine because I was going to redeem the family name with my late-in-the-day event.
The time finally came for the mothers to strip off out of their warm-up suits, put on their caps and goggles and stand on the starting blocks. We stood on the blocks sizing each other up and I did have a terrible case of nerves. Well we stood on the blocks and stood on the blocks and continued to stand on the blocks and wondered what on earth was going on when it was suddenly announced over the loud speaker that the Carnival had run over time and there now wasn’t time to run a Mother’s Race.
Could they be serious?
They would never have done this to Princess Diana.
We had to step off the blocks feeling humiliated and very silly. It was the biggest anti-climax I’ve ever experienced.
The school never ran the Mother’s Race again. But every year in the program they still have Deb’s name in print as being the undefeated fastest mother EVER.
During my competitive swimming career I used to try and feed myself well. I’d make this salad. It’s from an old Donna Hay Cookbook and it’s one of our families most favourite salads.
Baby Spinach and Prosciutto Salad
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is a lovely refreshing salad that isn’t inexpensive but worth it.
- 12 slices prosciutto
- 6 Roma tomatoes halved
- olive oil
- cracked black pepper
- 200g (6 1/2 oz) baby spinach leaves
- 200g (6 1/2 oz) asparagus spears, blanched
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shavings.
- 2 tbspns olive oil
- 2 tbspns lemon juice
- 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
- 2 tspns brown sugar
Place prosciutto and tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking dish, and sprinkle with olive oil and pepper. Bake at 180C/350F for 25 minutes or until prosciutto is crisp and tomatoes are soft.
Arrange spinach and asparagus on serving plates. Top with tomatoes, prosciutto and parmesan.
To make dressing, combine olive oil, lemon juice, basil and sugar, and pour over salad.
Have you ever made a fool of yourself at your child’s carnival?