Gay Games V
In August 1998, the 5th Gay Games took place in Amsterdam. I had never heard of the Gay Games prior to Amsterdam. It was really a fluke that I was living in Germany at the time of Gay Games V. If I had not been in Europe, I would never have gone to the Gay Games simply because a trans-atlantic trip from Vancouver was beyond my budget. It was also by coincidence that I had been training with Vancouver's gay swim team, English Bay Swim Club, for about a year when Gay Games V kicked off. I joined EBSC mainly to get back to swimming for fitness reasons and not to compete because I grew to dislike swimming competitions when I was in high school.
Training for the Gay Games became a problem when I arrived in Potsdam in May 1998. I had no one to train with, no real pool to go to, and no time to swim when I was busy exploring and adapting to life in a foreign country. Luckily everything turned out quite well and I ended up meeting the former national head coach of the East German swim team...just met him, not trained with him...no joking here :)...long story....When I arrived in Amsterdam, I was shocked at how conspicuous the Games were. The city was completely under siege by homosexuals! There were gay people crowding the streets, buses, restaurants, train stations, street trams, and you cannot avoid a rainbow flag for more than 10 steps. Every athlete had an ID badge and most people wore it all over the place. So, it was very strange to be able to identify gay people without a doubt.....very surreal since the real world does not work like this...
Altogether, I stayed for about a week in Amsterdam. Mark competed in the marathon and triathlon, while I busted my butt in the pool at Amersfoort. I swam in all 3 breaststroke events (50m, 100m, 200m) and felt none were my best swims afterwards. But, hey, I got 2 bronze medals!! It was more than I had ever imagined.Update: I plan to return to training in 2004 or 2005 so I can attend the Gay Games in Montreal, Canada in 2006.