The Reuters global sports blog
In the midst of a deluge of world records at the world swimming championships, I was close to breaking the mark for the slowest ever time.
Journalists at the Rome event were given the chance to swim in the outdoor 50 metre pool just hours after Michael Phelps and Federica Pellegrini had graced the same starting blocks and water.
We were treated like the real swimmers and had to sit in the ‘call room’ where the professionals wait before their race.
The announcer boomed out the competitors on the public address system and our names appeared on the electronic scoreboard. The stands were empty but you could easily imagine 10,000 screaming fans urging you on.