Eating is essential to get though races, so calculating that breakfast doesn’t start until 7am and the competition commences at 9pm, I need to warm up around 8.30 in order to sus out the competition pool. Roads around the hotel are blocked off for the Hip Hop festival/Memorial weekend, so getting an Uber seems difficult as this hotel is cut off. In the end, after a hastily eaten breakfast, I organise a private taxi for 7.30 via the hotel and I’m taken down to the end of the block by one of the staff and wait for a big black 4×4 to glide up and collect me. Of course it’s expensive but I get to the Ransome Everglades School by 8 am, in time to check in and check out the pool. This is a very posh school in the Coconut Grove area to the south of Miami City, boasting a 50 metre competition standard, outdoor pool. A bridge divides it in two and they’re racing in both. There’s also a 25 m warm up/down pool to one end.
This meet is being run by the Local Miami LGBT club Nadadores in conjunction with International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics, so everyone here knows what they are doing in spite of the collapse of the Out Games. It’s hot here even at 8am so I apply sun block like everyone else and take to the chilled water to warm up. It’s a little too soon after breakfast and some of it comes up while I’m swimming. I have to swallow, which is not quite as bad as it sounds, rather than mess up the pool. I suddenly run into Daniel Paul from Out to Swim London. He’s racing as well as playing water polo for London Orcas. Instant recognition – we’re finding our team here as we go.
It’s time to get into my new Arena carbon fibre compression jammers. Tristan from Wet Ones Sydney is also getting into his pair. It takes around 5 minutes – another time factor to consider. He’s a bit further on than me but suddenly, just as he’s got them on, they split along the crutch line – not really a good look so he has to change back into his regular jammers. I take extra care and slowly encourage the fabric up my thighs, squeezing my bum into the back and bringing the top band up to my waist – whew. It really is like coaxing a tight stocking upwards. All is well and I have time to try them out in the warm-up pool before my race. They feel good and the water rolls off the surface. There are eight guys here in my age-group, but unusually, I’m the only one doing the 50 backstroke. That’s no reason to slack off especially at this is my only race today. I win the heat and shave off a fraction from my seed time. I’ve been keeping in contact with Daniel Wu from Team Auckland. He’s flying in from Houston this morning and there is some doubt if he will be on time for the 50 back. He texts via Messenger that he’s on his way form the airport and in the end arrives in time to both warm up and race, so all is well, as TAMS coach, Cynthia, has asked me to ‘look after him’.
Suddenly I make contact with Donna Pinto and Anna Moody from Out to Swim London and we have the possibility to form a relay team. I call up Rob, but he’s speaking at the Human Rights conference today and in the end Daniel Paul doesn’t have to go off and play Water Polo just yet, so we have a mixed freestyle relay team in the 160 age group. Hurrah! Actually we are the only team in that group, but Anna and Donna are thrilled to win their first international awards, and we’ve done a respectable time. We’re all resigned to not receiving medals as rumour has it that WOG didn’t even order them. Credit to Anna for organising us and doing the paper work – we feel like a team here. They are also
staying at Miami Beach, so I get a ride back with them in their rental car. Donna says that there is a whole league of Lesbian Baseball players here in Miami and they didn’t even know about the Out Games. How can that happen? You would have thought that accessing local sports groups would be a first organisational step for all the sports.
Back on South Beach, the barricades are up and people are everywhere. It is startling to see women walking around the town in skimpy bikinis, buttocks on full display and breasts almost as visible. The guys are all topless but there are no speedos here – the fashion is for the baggy beach shorts. Men and women sport tattoos – some done without much though to design. The US army has displays all along the beach park- commentaries are blaring out, but few are engaged, the crowds are all on the beach or parading down Ocean Drive. For Memorial Weekend there are also very noisy jet fighters frightening the life out of everyone. I’ve had pulled pork in a soft white baguette from the ‘food truck’ at the pool – a tasteless experience, so a mango ice-cream from the gelato shop to take up the lift up to my room is required. It goes well with coffee followed by a snooze. Carbing up for tomorrow with a New York Steak for dinner and a glass of Malbec is a good idea and I sleep well.