This week has been a MASSIVE week in the Inspire a Jen camp. Avid readers and other direct family members will recall that recently, GB Handball player and my new favourite Olympian, Sebastian Prieto, started following the Inspire a Jen Twitter feed. In my post I instructed him, at least partly in jest, to tell all his Olympian friends about the cause. Credit where it's due, he did exactly that and I've racked up a total of SIX Olympian followers, five of whom are members of GB men's handball team, plus Chloe Rogers of medal-winning women's hockey team fame. Not only this, but the wider handball community, or as I like to think of it, my new best friend, has been insanely helpful and I am gearing up for actually trying handball out with Sebastian Prieto himself, no less.
By the way, why aren't you following the Inspire a Jen Twitter feed? You too could be watching with some unease and embarrassment as I attempt to a) make relevant points about sport, b) haplessly banter with athletes. It's a riot.
Life has been getting in the way of this project a bit, of late. Life does get in the way of exercising generally, doesn't it? I find it hard enough to fit exercise in around having a full time job and seeing my friends and family. So Christ knows how those Olympians, who compete in lesser known sports and also have to continue to work as accountants, or whatever, fit in proper training. I mean, we can't all be Jess Ennis and get paid thousands of pounds by Adidas to look like we're attractive whilst simultaneously very serious about sport. But this is something I will come back to.
My mum is pretty cool, all things considered - for a start, she doesn't mind me swearing, but aside from this, she is very supportive of my silly sport-related project. She painstakingly edits out split-infinitives in my blog posts each week (and corrects stylistic grammatical errors that I then change back, but hey, mums are also annoying - soz, mum). Apart from that one she missed a few weeks ago which left her, and I quote, "mortified". We've all been there (we haven't). Not only does she edit my poor grammar, but with life getting in the way and my blog post under threat this week, she was happy to step up when I started whinging. So, being as we were in my small home town with balls-all facilities for the lone sports-person, in the week of her 64th birthday, my mum agreed to compete against me in the 100m Freestyle swimming competition.
I used to swim quite a lot in my youth, as you do if you're fortunate enough to grow up in a house where the beach is pretty much your back garden. And if there's literally nothing else for you to do other than go to the pool on a Sunday and have water fights with your mates. How wholesome life was before I got that little bit older and discovered boys and White Lightning. After this I gave up on sport until I was 25 and I'd probably prefer my use of a swimming pool to focus on water fights, these days. I live in London now and, erm, I'm a grown up so I can do what I want (slams bedroom door). However, it looks like sports and other recreational facilities in my home town haven't come very far since I was a kid. So I suspect the yout's round here are doing much the same as I was, but to a soundtrack of Flo Rida banging on about his frankly unpalatable whistle.
When we arrived at the pool my suspicions were confirmed. It looked like they hadn't spent any money on it in the last 24 years. I would say it was one of the ranker public buildings I've ever been in, and I live in Dalston. Thankfully, I'm told that they are finally due to get some funding. So hopefully next time I'm there, my paranoia about contracting a communicable disease won't average around the middling to high end of the scale.
Despite my one-time competence, considerable age advantage and my mum's dodgy shoulder, I was genuinely a little worried she might beat me. Freestyle is, I think, whatever stroke you want, but front crawl tends to be the stroke of choice because it's the fastest. We're a bit crap, though, so both opted for breaststroke but I'm still calling this the 100m Freestyle event. Nor did we dive, because my mum hasn't dived for about 45 years and I'm scared of pretty much anything that might result in physical pain.
I could go into it length by length, but you probably don't need a huge level of detail, here. Let's say that I made significant ground at the start which started to peter off towards the end. Though fortuitously for my fragile ego, I beat my mum by some margin - 3min 8s to her 5min 25s. I don't know how this time compares to your average swimmer, but I'll put this in some context for you: the 2012 Olympics 100m Freestyle champion, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, finished in 53.03s. But she doesn't have a dodgy shoulder or fear of diving.
Follow Jen Offord on Twitter: www.twitter.com/inspireajen