Making a Splash at the Gay Games


By Seth Harrington

When my swim-teammates first mentioned the Gay Games to me late last year, visions of drag queens racing in stiletto heels floated through my mind. Then I noticed how diligently all the guys on the team were preparing and I too began to strive for my best. Eight months later, I was trained, toned, and psyched. Ahead of me was a week in which I would compete with other gay athletes from around the globe, who had worked just as hard as I to be there. The following are five highlights from a week of competition that challenged and profoundly moved me.

The 50m Fly

My goggles had flown off during my breaststroke. I had inhaled water during my 200 IM and almost didn't finish. 'It's just a bunch of homosexuals swimming,' said one of my friends, trying to cheer me up. But for me, the slogan of the games'Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best'had made an impression. I wanted these races and none more than the one coming up, the 50m Fly.

The whistle blew, and tugging at my goggle straps, I mounted the block. On my mark, I coiled my body. My vision narrowed until the only thing I could see was the black lane line shimmering beneath the water. All I could smell was steamy chlorine. The gunshot went off, and I sprung through the air and entered the water. Instantly my body engaged, stretching out. My arms reached forward. My legs kicked powerfully.

I found my rhythm and everything else slipped away, drowned by the sole goal of reaching the far wall. In 50 meters, it was done. I won my heat and placed fifth overall. Most importantly though, I shaved three seconds off my time, a new personal record for me.