My vibrant orange ‘racing nails’ were rather appropriate for the 2016 Lifesaving World Championships, as the event was hosted in The Netherlands.
The Pieter van den Hoogenband Zwemstadion was a fantastic venue for the pool events. A mouthful to say, the facility sports a 3m deep competition pool, dive well and 4 lane 50m training pool.
For a sport often characterized by arduous turn around times, the Netherlands exhibited professionalism and energy over three pool days.
While the wisps of alluring smells wafting from the food court outside were a wicked tease, the pool set up at this world championships were the best I have ever experienced. Gorgeous vintage vans speckled the courtyard outside selling frozen yoghurt, burgers and beers.
As a visitor to the Netherlands only in November, the stark weather contrast and liveliness of the place completely blew up my assumptions. While I have always thought the Netherlands beautiful, I’ve never been able to appreciate it fully- its awesomeness buried under a veil of fog and single figure temperatures.
One of the defining characteristics of lifesaving events is the mix of complete relaxation and sudden intensity exhibited by competitors.
Swimming meets are distinctly different, prepared meticulously, down to the minute for one event. Lifesaving involves multiple events across sessions which stretch for hours.
It’s a little like suiting up for a job interview…
At a swim meet I’ll come in wearing a suit. It’s business time from the first step inside. At a lifesaving event I’ll wear a hoody and sweat pants, with my suit packed in a bag ready to pull on when required.
It’s a balancing act poolside, regulating nerves and excitement to fire at the optimum moment.
This contrast of focus is never more evident than it is at the end of lunch, before warm up for finals begins.
Athletes lie sprawled across thin sleeping mats and Airbeds, catching whatever rest they can before backing up heat efforts. Walking around the stands before finals is quite entertaining, as most athletes enjoy their naps with mouths hanging open, music pouring in to their ears via large headphones.
Please enjoy the wonderful example (Nabbing some z’s between sessions on day 1)of said behaviors below:
One of my favourite aspects of competition is that every event is different, there are unexpected triumphs and silence-inducing failures.
For me, watching Hong Kong take gold in the line throw event was a special moment. An underdog nation taking the clutch event.
For anyone who hasn’t watched line throw, it is one wickedly intense 10-20 seconds!
Other highlights included a world record in the B final of the men’s 100m tow event. The speed of that final showed just what kind of composure athletes require in heats. It takes a steely calm to execute skills under pressure , an element which makes lifesaving such an exciting sport.
All in all, the pool competition at this year’s world championships were awesome.
From a sharp venue to fun competitors, Eindhoven proved to be a superb fit for Rescue 2016.