Great stuff, Grant
I'm very familiar with the "first or last whichever way you look at it" situation. I actually prefer it when there's someone else there, even when they're much faster, which they usually are. I'm amazed at how often they tell me they used to play water polo, which is obviously a great conditioner.
I wish I'd played it myself, but I was fairly busy at the time with Rugby and athletics, apart from the other things that one is involved in as a teenager and young man, such as music, drama, dancing, study, and of course chasing vainly after attractive young females.
Now I enviously watch as they tear off down the pool in front of me, and some of them are old ladies in their eighties!