Monday 11th March – Back on Track (Actually Back in Pool)
Well it has been a week of being bed ridden with the flu. There was no way I could have gone swimming on any days of last week with a heavy cough and totally blocked sinuses. There was however always that dare to go and train regardless of health issues, but unusually for me there was a little thought before the action. This was with the knowledge that if I did it would be self-defeating on two fronts, namely compound both health issues and damage the trace of confidence that had been built up to date. In the end is was sensible to wait until health returns and start up again. So that is exactly what happened.
Well, not exactly 100% fit today with a headache still lingering and stuffed up nose, but coughing and wheezing has subsided after a week of these continuous symptoms. After further medication and a good breakfast it was a man raring to go and take on the challenge again.
Arriving at the pool at 9:45 as always fifteen minutes before officially opening, there was only one other swimmer there who got there before me. I had met this man on the previous visit to the pool and he knew I was English and he insisted we speak English. God bless him as yet again insisted on speaking English to me throughout the changing into swimming gear, into the shower and then into the pool. With this focus of communication it was difficult to concentrate on the routine of getting ready to swim. There was no way I could multi-task with his less than perfect English and getting ready to tackle the business of trying to stay relaxed before I entered the pool. There was never opportunity to keep my earplugs in as every time I did he started talking to me again and they had to be taken out again on each numerous occasion. His enthusiasm and rare opportunity to speak and practice his English with a native Englishman was overwhelming. There was no way I could ever bring myself to spoil his moment?
His name was Kolo and he finally glided away into another swimming lane to get his bi-weekly swimming fix. It was with some relief when he did leave me alone, no offence to Kolo but my mind was to that point not on what I was there for. With time to think about what I needed to do, it was a little panic before I began to warm up with some ‘bobbing’ exercises breathing out through my nose whist underwater and grabbing a breath each time I surfaced. This didn’t come natural unlike before and it was some while before the sequence became familiar again.
Onto the next drill which was just warming up with some easy breaststroke lengths with head underwater every two strokes. This again felt quite uncomfortable with the breathing sequence and I found it hard to relax giving up the head underwater on a few occasions. I managed six lengths of this without getting too exhausted. It was a surprise when I worked out that I had in fact covered 6 lots of 17 metres lengths, which is over 100 metres! This was not entirely continuous having to stop and turn each length, but I don’t recall going this far on my other sessions. Progress?
My goggles were steaming up and the strap slipping making them loos and filing up with water. As mentioned before they were the cheapest goggles in the world and were showing why that was. With Kolo as a distraction I had forgot to smear the lenses with the washing up liquid infused tissue kept moist in a plastic bag. So it was out of the pool and back into the changing rooms for the smear and hopefully one less issue.
Back in the pool for the next drill with a float board working on the left arm freestyle and breathing to my left each stroke whilst roll my body at the same time. This once again felt very uncomfortable and quite panicky but eventually I managed to complete a full length whilst persevering. I tried to do the same without the float board but failed miserably only completing some four metres before a panic and stop! Back to the float and working again until I felt a bit more comfortable.
At about this time a woman had got into the pool and was using my lane, no matter for me but I had to time my lengths just as she arrived at my end each time. It just took a little wait before pushing off each time. She asked me where I got my ear plugs from as she didn’t have any. I said I ordered them on eBay from China and had to wait six weeks for them to arrive. She was having problems with water running into here ear so I suggested she tried another pair I had that came with the cheap goggles I bought. She was very happy indeed as she plugged them in, thanked me and swam off again. Well, I was just as pleased as her to have been able to help.
The float board was continued to be used and now trying the right arm and breathing on the opposite side. I tried this in previous sessions and just couldn’t last more than two strokes before stopping. This time I composed myself and managed much longer stretches on the length this time round until I finally completed a whole length. Still not comfortable, but much better than before. Back to the left side again not feeling too stressed now with some practice under my belt.
It was now that I felt a little more confident that progress had been made and finished the session slightly earlier with that feeling hanging on. Thinking about that fact that I can’t swim freestyle with the technique in style and breathing required without a floating aid is quite a daunting thought. However, once the back has been broken with this, it will just be a matter of working on fitness. There is, as I have quickly discovered, a different kind of fitness needed in swimming.
During the session my goggles strap came loose and the goggles filled with water, this was quite convenient at this point with lots of breaks in the swimming drill and giving thinking time. The distraction of adjusting the straps each time was quite healthy for me psychologically used as an alibi for the rest whilst other swimmers look on. I’m highly strung as you can see.
When I got home I found that my goggles had a part missing that is needed to thread the holding strap on. It can’t lock the strap without this part. This must have happened in the shower after had finished the session, as I recall dropping them on the floor before packing them away. I now have a pair of goggles that need a double knot to keep one side of the thread on and can see the same thing happening to the other side soon. I will have to get another pair although it might take a few days to arrive in the post. There are no sources of decent goggles in our town after a big shopping hunt previously.
On reflection, despite still not feeling totally recovered from the flu, today was the best session to date. It is just a trickle of progress experienced, but nevertheless progress. Long way to go still, but you can’t eat an elephant all in one go.
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