If you’ve been following my experience at the 2015 Eurogames, or even just the event itself I can safely tell you this event didn’t go according to plan. From abrupt and random schedule changes, confusing and misleading emails and the potential of being dropped from races all due to disorganization from the event organizers itself. Even 12+ hour days at the meet, racing my last event at 9pm in the evening only to be up the next morning at 6am for warm up, this competition definitely tested my mental and physical strength as well as patience as an athlete, and not necessarily in an productive, positive way.
The Eurogames is one of the largest international, multi-sport, LGBT focused competitions outside of the OutGames and Gay Games. It is held every year that the OutGames and Gay Games are not. It is typically open only to Europeans but in this case the Eurogames also played host to the IGLA (International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics) Championship and thus, was open to non-Europeans.
There was significant disorganization within the sporting events themselves. You can almost call it chaos. Not just limited with swimming, it included all the aquatic events, volleyball, track and field, and triathlon to name a few. From schedule changes to venue changes and downright cancellations, it was very frustrating as an athlete to not know what to expect on the day of your competition. However the parties were very well organized, right on schedule and as advertised. I had no real interest in any of the parties, not that I had the time or energy to attend given how I felt after competing until 9pm. I was there to race, to do my best and yes, to win.
I had come off from spring nationals on a high and let myself be a little more lax in my training this summer. Not sticking to a good diet plan or specific training schedule. I overloaded my schedule with other activities and in essence cruised my way to this competition in the hopes that I could maintain my race level for 2 more months. While I did swim LCM personal bests, not only were my times quite dismal in comparison to spring nationals but overall I felt like I hadn’t really taken this competition seriously. As an athlete and to achieve my goals, I need to take every competition seriously, even if the event organizers themselves do not.
I could go on and on about what I didn’t do, what I should’ve done and what I could’ve done. Overall I was relatively pleased with my competition.
The toughest moment had come in quite a peculiar circumstance. While at an LGBT competition as you can expect, with hundreds of gay guys in racing in speedos that sex is more common. Now I have always had body image issues but I focus more on my times and races than I do how I look, but it’s always there. However after my first day of competition, I had won a bronze medal in my only event that day.
I hooked up with a swimmer from San Francisco and during our evening together he casually told me I need to hit the gym. (Who says that during sex? Honestly?). You might say he’s just a hookup, someone to forget about but a comment like that, regardless who said it is hard to forget. I was there to swim fast and despite my lax in training, I still worked damn hard to get there, only to be shut down because I didn’t have the six pack? That’s rough. He claimed he was “joking” but not only did that kill the mood but essentially all else that night too.
I had been reading Chris McCormack’s (Macca’s) book “I’m Here to Win”. Macca is a 2x Kona Ironman World Champion, in his book he talks a lot about his mental strategy, trash talking in a way to bring down his opponent and win his race, even before the starting pistol. While this is a significantly different circumstance (not even actually racing this hookup) but I thought about what he said and even dwelled on it for a few minutes. However I recalled not only Macca in how he would better combat people who try to use his strategy against him but Michael Phelps as well. In Michael Phelps’ book “No Limits” he often uses the trash talk from his opponents as a drive to succeed rather than let it be his Achille’s heal. The next day was my hardest competition day, with a 400 IM, 800 Free and 1500 Free, I would swim until 9 that evening. I saw Mr. Hookup at the pool, said hi and what not and I continued to think about what he said, I was checking myself in the mirror, perhaps not feeling too good about myself overall but I decided then and there, either I succeed or I fail. I chose to succeed; I got out of that toxic mindset, put on my “motivational tunes” playlist and got ready for my competition. I went on to win 1 silver and 2 gold medals that day.
So my final take away from this event, I come back feeling more motivated and ready to push forward and succeed on a new level. To step up my game, understand my weaknesses and turn them into my strengths. Too truly succeed, I am going to do things that nobody else has the courage to do and will reach my goals, regardless of how I look.
- David Smith is an exercise professional, athlete, blogger and owner of Stonewall Fitness. He is a certified personal trainer and holds a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition. He is an active athlete and Gay Games medalist training and competing in triathlon and swimming. He is passionate about bringing the LGBT community together through exercise and fitness. Help support David with his athletic endeavors! Visit www.gofundme.com/bttrflyr and Read more here...