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Lets work from the bottom of the thread up. The lights only come on if the key is in the on position. When you tried them before the engine was running they did not work. After the car was running, key on, they worked. (ok - i am guessing, but I'm not there). I have no idea why tapping the alternator helped start the car, it never has in my experience.
Back to your original symptom. The no start and the fast clicking. Fast clicking is indicative of a battery that is not able to start the car. It has enough power to close the starter relay - which clicks -but then when the starter is on, the battery is sending what little it has to the starter, and there is no longer enough for the relay, which clicks off. Now with the starter out of the circuit, there is enough battery for the relay which clicks on again, and the cycle continues and you hear clickclickclick faster than you can say it.
So that describes what you heard, now the question is what happened between you and the puddle and the no start condition. As it turns out, even on their best days, metro alternator belts stink. Rarely does an aftermarket belt work on these cars. So you go through the puddle, lubricate the belt so it slips and the alternator stops working. And then the battery charge dies out. You get the car started, the belt dries out and your car is fixed, if no harm came to the battery from being discharged, or to the belt from slipping.
In the first line of your OP, you said "lights work so its not the battery". False. Your lights demand 10-15 amps of power from your battery. Your starter demands 100-150 amps. It is very common for a weak battery to be able to run the lights and still not start a car.

Anyway, thats my take on the story.

Best wishes,
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