Ok, a measly 40 lengths. I did go in there planning on 60, but not quite realising that ‘cos I’d arrived so late (had to run back for that hairbrush I’d forgot) there was only about 40 mins left before the aerobics class took over.
(On the tangent of hair, don’t you just love it when you’re just swinging that arm round, and it gets jerked backwards by a stray ponytail that’s gone and got itself wrapped round? I’d recommend it in aiding the gracefulness-status.)
We ended only staying about half an hour. I get so frustrated at the people who crowd in and then just stand around, spreading their arms in the water a good 5 metres from the end of the pool. Do they not realise they’re cutting up my swimming distance by about a 1/4? Grr… so that’s why we had to leave early.
At first Kathy and I had a bit of a divergence of opinion about how we should count the lengths. She insisted on counting down from 30, while I didn’t agree with her morale-boosting techniques. I thought it would be so depressing to have been swimming for ages, and then only be on “eight” or there-abouts. It was so much more satisfying to turn and say “twenty-two” to the bobbing head over the way. Maybe it’s just because I’m more competitive!
Two lengths later (at 24-6) I got a real compliment. She’d been ahead of me, so stopped while I swam the last few metres. Kathy looked at me, and immediately burst out laughing. I put on my puzzled eyes and swam on normally. On reaching her, I demanded an explanation. “Oh, just there as I was watching you, you looked just like a hippo.” Yeah, right! Oh, and thanks! 🙂
Incidentally, the reason I’d been doing neck-breaking breaststroke was precisely because I’ve discovered being in hysterical laughter is not conducive to decent breathing techniques. When we were both teenagers, my Mum used to accuse us two of “teenage giggles”, but Kathy’s much more consistent than that… she’s been able to make me laugh ever since we were toddlers, and nowadays she’s as bad as ever. Well, me being accused of hippo-ness… what more do I need to say!?
I did get her back though. Just as she’d counted down from 30 to 0, I smiled past the girl in the middle and said “Another 10?”. She inclined her head. “You up for it.” “Yeah, of course.” Well, she couldn’t bow out then! She said ok, and then said immediately that she regretted saying that.
As soon as I launched forth again, I was nearly blinded. Even after another length-and-a-half, I had to get my eyes away from the chlorine for a few seconds and make myself cry as some form of relief. I think I was only three[3-27] lengths in before Kathy commented on the suitably gruesome nature of my eyes. I just take it as the cruellest side-effect of swimming that I am constrained to view the world in red. The annoying twist in the tail is that as I grow accustomed to it, it is just about bearable, but then if I let my eyes get back to normal, its always much worse when the chlorine hits again.
Of course, the truly best part of swimming is being “in the flow”. If you don’t know what I’m on about, there just isn’t any way to describe it. Either you’ve experienced it, or you have no idea what you’re missing! You just don’t ever need to stop swimming once you get there. That’s the thing that used to make me dream about swimming years before I was able to swim. There’s just nothing that can quite compete with being in such an altered state of consciousness. (Geekish note: I am also able to get into “the flow” while coding, but that’s not quite so health-inducing as swimming is, and hence I usually consider it a “less pure” form of the phenomenon.)
The hardest part of swimming has to be the water-confidence problem. Despite having been fascinated by swimming before I was able to swim I associated water with some form of mild panic-attack. I have yet to discover what kind of mental-scarring I have encountered that may account for this, but the most annoying part is its constant re-occurrence.
As a child I always imagined that once I’d conquered this “swimming beast” all would be rosy in the world. I do manage to have things rosy for the majority of the time, but nowadays I still dread those times when, with stark reality, I break out of the flow, and get this strange feeling of thinking I haven’t been breathing properly, and trying to force myself to hyper-ventilate.
Ok, I have my ways and means of dealing with it, so its not like I’m suddenly going to need ‘saving’ at any moment. But I usually do look a bit like an idiot when one moment I’m charging full-steam ahead in an energetic-looking front crawl, and then next moment I’m doing a hippo-impression breaststroke. (Sometimes I even get the added bonus of a delicious mouthful too. Ah well, I wouldn’t want to miss out on the pleasure just to avoid the embarrassment, even tho’ it takes mental effort to overcome the fear on almost every occasion I swim.
Anyways, that is the philosophical note ended! After I intended this to be just a light-hearted account of my last swim, it has ended up – yet again – that I have bared the innermost reaches of my scary mind. Must apologise for any emotional stress caused.