By Luke Bernstein, Swimming World Intern.
By 8 a.m. Saturday morning, swimmers at the 2018 BAC Winter Invite had made it to Rutgers University, warmed up in a freezing pool and managed to sneak into a tech suit. But for one swimmer, just seconds before his race, the unthinkable happened, a rip appearing in the $300 fabric that is supposed to ensure their appearances in the finals.
Prior to stepping onto the block for his 200 IM Prelim, current Berkeley Aquatic Club swimmer and Oratory Prep Senior Patrick Heffernan discovered a hand-sized hole in the left leg of his swimsuit. With the heat before him about to end, Heffernan had no other choice but to swim with this problem.
Afterwards, he recounted what was going through his mind as he stepped up onto the block and how he felt with this compromised suit. When asked afterwards, Heffernan says he was very “panicked and confused” and wondered, “do I get changed, do I try a new suit on, or do I just throw a speedo on” eventually realizing there was no other choice but to try and swim the event with part of his suit missing.
He was especially concerned about the breaststroke leg of his IM hoping that it would not rip more or tear in half due to the whipping nature of breaststroke kick. His suit did not fully rip after the swim, but the hole did grow in size.
Heffernan’s morning was not yet done as he still had race in the 400 freeprelims. After executing the difficult and fear-inducing process of removing a tech suit, he found one of his many practice speedos lying in his swim bag to use in the 400.
This change must have been slightly less frightening as he no longer had to worry about not breaking the suit, as he already had accomplished that. Even with this change in apparel, Heffernan still managed to final, taking the 24th and final spot securing his return to the Sonny Werblin Aquatic Center later that day.
If and when this highly unfortunate event ever happens to other swimmers, Heffernan offers some advice on how to power through. With no other option besides race with a hole in his suit, Patrick chose to recover his composure and use the positive and helpfulness of his friends to foster a great swim instead of getting angry at things outside of his control.
This allowed Heffernan to succeed in his race and beat his personal best set at the same meet last year. He also explained that is important to remain calm and confident in your abilities and remember that success it is not all about the suit.
Instead it depends on all of the training, coaching, and preparation that propel all swimmers through their races. So even if your best suit rips, don’t use this unfortunate event to hurt your swim. Use it to motivate you into a great race.