Swim Meet in Cusco? Bring Your Lawyer

The time had finally come. Our kids had dutifully practiced for months without a competitive swim meet and now was their chance. The Campeonato de Natacion, the annual city-wide swim championships, was taking place in Cusco and our kids were ready.

For a while, it seemed like we’d never have a swim meet. In the first few months coach Cristian rattled off a list of swim meets that the kids would be in – Quillabamba, Arequipa, Pisac – but we later realized that without enrollment in the collegio school system, they could not participate. The first swim meet the kids could swim in was the Transandina Youth Games, the international games for the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile that happen once a year. We had timed our arrival in Cusco to make sure that the kids had a chance to qualify, but the day after the qualifying trials, we were told that the meet was postponed because of Dengue Fever. Six weeks went by and Cristian told us about an upcoming meet in Arequipa and we eagerly made preparations to attend. After making our hotel reservations and only a few days prior to the event, Cristian told us that the meet had been canceled due to concerns over the Swine Flu.

We put all this behind us and enjoyed a long Saturday of swimming at the Piscina Municipal de Wanchaq. Our kids are competitive swimmers so we expected them to do well, but we were here for the sense of community and the chance to meet other parents and improve our Spanish. My son won his 100 meter breast stroke race by half a pool length and received his gold medal on the medal stand while local newspaper photographers took his picture with the silver and bronze medalists. By the end of the day, both kids would earn 3 gold medals each and thoroughly enjoy the day.

Everything went smoothly but there was one incident in the late afternoon that caused a small delay to the proceedings. Two twin girls who also happened to be on my daughter’s basketball team were competing and one was involved in a small controversy. The parents of the twins were both lawyers who were very genial and financially well off by Peruvian standards. The father greeted and bantered with the mayor as he entered and settled into a chair, using his video camera to capture his girls’ successes. After one of the races, in which one of the twins narrowly missed a bronze medal, there was a long discussion between her father, the meet chairman and the mayor, all of whom were studying a playback on the father’s video recorder. While they were talking, the first three finishers stood on the medal stand and received their prizes.

After the awards were given and another 10 minutes of studying the video camera, an announcement was made that his daughter, who originally came in fourth place, was now the third place finisher and they had a separate medal ceremony for her to receive her bronze medal. Apparently, the father had used his video camera to disqualify one of the top three finishers and get his daughter a medal.

Despite this awkward display of favoritism, the meet went very well and it was a long and enjoyable day. We had thought about altering our schedule to have the kids complete in the rescheduled Transandina Games in Argentina, but we were concerned that it might again be cancelled. We considered going but in the end we opted not to and this was a good decision: it was canceled.


  1. Wow, that stinks for the girl. Unfortunately, his children won't learn how to lose in life.

  2. I agree with you. What's going to happen when Daddy is not there to take care of things for you?