Saturday, April 19, 2008

Australia - Perth - Let the Games Begin!!

Well the excitement has started and the athletes have arrived and there isn't a hotel room or rental car available for the next 10 days in Perth. It is amazing to see what happens when so many athletes descend on a place, like they did in Calgary those 20 years ago. It can be a bit of an organizational nightmare which the first day of these games was. It was a very hot first day when most of the athletes stood in a 2-3 hour long accreditation line-up, but they were given water in line and spent their time meeting and making new friends with those around them.

I got lucky and went first thing the next day and was in and out in 15 minutes. I went back an hour later after helping out a bit in the water polo office and hoped to meet up with my Captain Betty. Well, if she wasn't in line right in front of the guys from Calgary!! It was so great to see the familiar faces. Some of these guys that have come to play in the Men's 50+ division were coaches of mine way back in the early 80's and one of them coached David a bit during his brief water polo career (today he asked David to come back and play).

Our actual competition started yesterday and we are in a pool with 6 teams, 2 very strong with ex-National team members from Australia, 2 medium with overlapping members(that will be my team) and 2 that are weaker and here for fun. On the 50+ team are some gals that I played against in 2004 when the first Splash international trip took place in Long Beach California in that 30 meter pool!!!

My team consists of 4 girls from South Australia who arrived the day before the competition and who I played with for the first time in the first game! The other players are from the UWA 45+ team from which 6 of the players are playing for both teams!

Our first match was fortunately against a weaker team which gave us the chance to attempt to get to know each other. They were a really fun team from right here in Perth called the Pink Pointers. Well, you should have seen them all dolled up in their black bathers with pink writing on them, pink caps and mouth guards and long robes with pink writing. Their fans were waving pink things everywhere, and the post game feast was champagne and pink cakes!! They have the right idea about having fun!! We were fortunate enough to win that one.

Last night, Captain Betty had a team party for the 22 members of both teams. It was a great affair and a good opportunity to get to know a few of the girls better. I drove 2 of the South Australian girls back to their hotel and our goalie Sue would be most qualified to deliver a baby if any of us still had any desire to have one (ObGyn) and Pam could protect us against evil forces outside the pool (police officer). Then Pam goes ahead and tells us that the game she had played that day was the first game she had ever played!!! You would never have known it, she really held her own!

Today we played the 50+ team from the States and once again came away with the win. We played the first half with only 2 subs, but it felt good to get in some good consistent time in the pool. We were starting to talk about getting the ball to Pam so she could score a goal, when out of nowhere, she burns up the pool and pops one in having done all of the work herself!! I think she even got a hat trick in only her second game ever!! Sue, when not delivering babies or investigating the mysteries of women, must have been doing some great training as she is very steady in net with an arm that can toss the ball 3/4 of the pool!

Tomorrow we have an early game against a tough opponent! Our men have a very difficult draw and are 0/2 at this point. We went over to Bicton to watch them today. It is a beautiful dedicated water polo pool right on the banks of the river. We were the only Canadians to cheer, so I hope it helped a bit. There was actually a charity massage therapist there, so I watched the game while having my shoulder worked on. I think I will find time tomorrow to watch another game from the old massage table!!

The 800 Free was also yesterday and an 84 year old man broke the 14 year old record in his 80-84 age group swimming it in 13:29 and change!! In the women's 90+ group, there is a 94 year old Japanese woman who is taking everything. She won the 800 Free in about 18 minutes or so. I can't believe she could even make the trip! I hope to get down and watch some of the diving as well. There is an 80+ age group in that also. Carol Fitzsimmons from Springbank is here to compete in the synchro and I have run into her here as well.

I will keep you posted, Holly

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