The title of this post sounds a little like the title of a B-grade horror flik.
“The old woman warned them. “Beware the pool,” she cackled, “It will destroy your will, gut your pride, suck you under.” But the rowdy, disrespectful, drunken, over-sexed kids with their loud music and bad eighties hair wouldn’t listen. The pool looked so warm and inviting. And now, it’s too late. . .”
Yep, B-grade horror probably describes swimming quite nicely.
Still, I ignored, the voice of cackling doom and took myself back to the pool. The aches and pains from Marine Corps have subsided completely and while I’m still really fatigued I’m not completely shattered, so I’m fast running out of excuses.
Speaking of Marine Corps, I was on the Blue line today as we whizzed through the open-air section around Arlington Cemetery, paralleling the 110 where the race started and finished. The Marines had done a great job cleaning up the area but there was still the odd space blanket blown into the trees here and there, and the occasional item of clothing including–God help me–what I swear was a jockstrap. Now I don’t even want to ask why you would bring a jockstrap to a marathon, let alone when and how you would remove such an item.
Of course, maybe it was a Halloween decoration. Because nothing says scary like a jockstrap dangling from a tree.
Anyway, there I was back at the pool. It was great to see so many other members of the team there, most of them the Ironman Florida people getting an “easy” workout in. I took one look at the workout pasted to the kickboard at the end of my lane and thought “Sod this for a game of soldiers.” Given that I can just make it 25 meters and that only when I’m so out of breath that I need to stop, the chances of me being able to swim continuous 100s was, well, about as likely as me leaving a jockstrap hanging in a tree next to a Metro station.
Instead, I just concentrated each length on trying to get the basics down. Last week was really overwhelming for me (could you tell?) so today, since there were only two of us in the noobs lane I was able to just concentrate on one thing at a time. My biggest success was just to slow things down, not try and power down the pool like a Marlin threshing on the end of a sport line. Soon I was finding that I was arriving down the end of the pool not so out of breath, that I didn’t have to hang off the wall doing my best impression of someone having a seizure. I tried to get a feel for the body rotation, for what Ed meant by stretching out. Gradually I also started to notice my own bad habits (resisting the tendency to try and look ahead, working on my habit of corkscrewing my head after breathing (although, who knows, when it comes to learning sighting, I may need to relearn that!)).
Since the coaches were there, I asked questions. I learned that I was radically shortening my stroke on my breathing side, and that was causing me to sink. Joe pointed out when we were dropping our non-stroke arms, and told me about tucking my head into my shoulder (I’m getting a fair amount of water when I breathe).
I tried not to look at any of the Florida people in the pool, cruising along confidently and calmly. I’ll get there one day. But for now I don’t want to know too much about how big is the gap that needs to be crossed.
By the end, I began to feel that at least I understood the theory and I could see how it was all supposed to work. I can still only do one 25m length at a time, but at least I managed 24 of them.
Next major goal, 50m of continuous swimming. Which, as I recall, I could do quite comfortably at the age of 12.