The last few days have been a bit of a blur with packing, finishing up work, the joys of international travel (helpful hint: don’t fly Air Canada Rouge, unless you too consider a singular piece of loaf a ‘continental breakfast!), and the bumble of trying to figure out a new city while jet lagged no sleep deprived.
Once I got to Budapest and got settled into the apartment my teammates and I rented it was time for some food and a beverage. I stopped at the first restaurant I saw, and ordered something that had sour cream and pork, and chose dumplings as my side dish. It did not disappoint:
Fortified by protein and carbs, and slightly tipsy from the beer, I made my way to the metro for the 6 stop journey to the pool to get my accreditation pass. I asked the lovely volunteers all the questions and walked out of there feeling like a rock star.
Monday morning it was STILL raining. My awesome coach had emailed me a different swim practice for every day that I’m here, so I got up, found breakfast in the cafe conveniently located steps away from my front door and headed to the practice pool. There were a few other swimmers in the pool, but the lanes were quiet overall and I made my way through my first structured taper swim feeling good and trying to get the arms and legs moving again after three days out of the water.
I met a few other swimmers, including my new best friend Francois, a 70 year old from Cape Town who has been to the last 9 masters world championships, and has been living and training in Budapest for the last month to prepare. We started chatting and decided to head over to the Duna to take in some of the diving competition.
Francois showed me around Duna Arena like a tour guide: our passes give us pretty much full access to every area of every venue, and it was dreamlike just floating through the halls, changerooms, pooldecks and seating areas. Being in that arena is completely awe-inspiring. The pool looks less daunting than it did on tv: after all it’s just a pool, but the 8 stories of stands and the vastness of the uninterrupted indoor space are pretty incredible.The diving was cool to see. I took a picture of the first male age 40-44 to compete because he was Canadian. Later that night at opening ceremonies he and his girlfriend sat down at my picnic table and we started chatting. I realized right away he was the person I’d seen earlier in the day and showed him his picture. Like me, he is new to his sport, encouraged by his girlfriend to come to worlds (she is a synchronized swimmer). He was overwhelmed by the picture and so pleased that someone captured his moment. He shared it to Facebook yesterday, and of course we’re now also best friends.
The Opening Ceremonies were…interesting. There was the usual suits welcoming everyone and a parade of flags held by the awesome volunteers. Then the ‘entertainment’ portion of the evening started: some kind of Hungarian glammed-up folk dancing (think Hungarian Riverdance) followed by some famous Gypsy old man string orchestra. Not everyone’s favourite but hey, I can say I was there!
Yesterday was back to the pool for my second taper swim. Another good practice, and a lane allll to myself, a bonus of being here a week before competition starts. Francois was there too and we headed over to Varosliget Lake to watch my friend Erin in her technical duet synchro routine. This is by far the best venue: two massive 50m temporary pools with a huge grandstand set up in the lake surrounding a castle: amazing.
Erin and Meghan did really well, it was awesome to see a friend competing in such an incredible venue. By early afternoon jet lag was rearing its ugly head. Francois and I wandered through Hero’s Square, the only part of Budapest I remember from my single day here ten years ago (!). Hoping to see a bit more of the city in the coming days as my teammates arrive and jet lag subsides. For now, it’s off to the pools to watch more synchro and swim!