Friday 15th March – New Goggles Arrived
My new goggles arrived yesterday and it was a very excited man collecting them form the local Econt Delivery Office along with a couple of other goods we added to get free postage. The packaging was carefully opened and instructions read two or three times as insurance for possibly ruining them with my ignorance to this new sport taken up only a few weeks ago.
Tying them on they felt very uncomfortable and this was worrying about having invested. The bridge was rubbing on my nose, so an adjustment was made to this which felt a bit better but there was still pressure sustained in this area. I just hoped it wouldn't irritate with wearing them with lengthy spells. There was no way I could test leaking and fogging until actually in the pool. There wasn't long to wait for that.
There was a birthday party the night before this training session and quite a few rakias (Bulgarian homemade brandy) and beers were downed along with magnificent food that could feed thousands. Then it was to bed well after midnight after watching Arsenal win to go through to the next round in the Europa Cup. Yes, I'm an Arsenal fan! I might add that we don't get drunk here, just tired when we party from the duration of the event. Parties here can last well over 24 hours, this one didn't as we left early on this occasion, rare for us but there were two reasons for that. Firstly, in the back of my mind there was the swimming session today and of course as just mentioned the Arsenal match. Back home in time for the second half.
It was awake well before the alarm went off this morning due to one of our neighbours vacuuming their apartment at 06:20. We both weren't feeling too good as the process of waking crept up on us. Dodgy stomachs for some unknown reason and the expected tiredness hit us one we dispelled all signs of dream world! Ginger, lemon and honey tea made and drunk didn't make much difference to how we felt. There had to be something to eat if I was to go training today, so cold leftover pasta was consumed and back to bed for an hour or so before making my way to the pool. During this return to bed, no sleep took place as an awareness of the countdown of time caused alertness in my mind. On top of this I was going over and over the planned swimming and breathing drills I was going to address in the pool.
Still with some discomfort of the stomach and leaving Galia in our sick bed it was not long before I arrived at the pool. There is a little routine now on making my way there. Next to the school where the pool is the situation is a parking lot. This has to be walked through to access the entrance to the school and there is a ticket machine where you pay to park. The ticket machine has a digital clock giving the exact time and each time I pass this I see what time it is and whether I am too early to go in into the school. They open officially at 10:00 but let us in a 09:45. Being English means that time plays an important part in everyday routines, unlike Bulgarians and I don't feel easy or relaxed being too early or late. This time shown on this ticket machine is a remedy for this uneasy English syndrome of needing to be regimental with time. The earliest I got there was 09:37 as I sat down on a seat nearby to wait for 09:44 to register before going into the school ground with one minute to reach the receptionist in attendance and now on duty. The latest I have arrived was 09:50 so it was a quick march without hesitation on that day. The previous session arrival was 09:44, perfect and today 09:45.
One other point. Now I do have a mobile phone and could use that as a tool for time, but it means opening my kit bag, fumbling about inside to find my phone and then put it all back when done.
Now in the changing room with another swimmer who arrived the same time as me as we exchanged greeting it was a strange moment for me. I expected another acquaintance namely Kolo the incessant English speaking swimmer who attends on Mondays and Fridays. I wasn't sure where this man here was Kolo. I guessed it wasn't as he wasn't' speaking English. You may be asking why wasn't I sure if I knew what he looked like. Well, this was a strange moment. There are roughly three or four men that have attended on a sporadic basis. All of them are short, stocky about the same age and with the same short and thinning grey hair. I wear glasses as I am short sited and without my glasses, everything more than a few feet away is blurred. If any of these men in question are seen more than a metre away they all look the same! I guess this man here today wasn't Kolo from the point of no English coming out so that was the big clue.
Into the shower and pool finally to test out the new goggles with much trepidation I might add with the dry testing yesterday at home. Well, they were much more comfortable than the previous pair, but then I don't think anything could have been worse! The bridge over the nose didn't seem to be an issue which was a relief. There was no fogging and the lenses being new of course meant that there was a crystal clear vision, albeit commensurate to my short-sightedness. One less worry and throughout the session there was only a couple of times water penetrated through the seals. It is just a matter of adjusting the tightness of the strap which should be mastered over time.
Bobbing is always the first drill. It didn't feel quite natural doing this for some reason. I preserved for an extra few minutes to try and get that feeling of not having to think about it. It gradually introduced itself and then on to the warm-up of breaststroke.
10 lengths today, 170 metres non –stop with head under every two-stroke and only one slight panic towards the end. Nice and just a little fatigue more importantly by no means exhausted. The only down part of this was the pace of this swimming stroke. I just don't understand how there seems to be such a slow movement forwards doing this. I watch other swimmers in the pool doing exactly the same stroke technique as me yet they travel past me literally twice the speed. Nevertheless, I put this to the back of my mind and move on to the next drill.
Bobbing again which felt more natural before both arms holding onto the side of the pool and breathing and exhaling with the left arm doing strokes with a static right arm and feet on the floor. Felt really easy, in fact too easy so I didn't dwell too long on this. There was a time I recall that this was not as easy as it was today, so a feel-good factor with this thought.
A float and left arm strokes with left side breathing and passive right arm. Again, this felt good as I completed a few lengths. Water up the nose was rare now although each length that was completed there was a pause to recover for about 10-15 seconds before starting up again. This was needed as there was a little labour in the breathing. Guess this is due to lack of swimming fitness, not general fitness and will improve.
There was an attempt to work off the right side breathing with a dormant left arm. It didn't feel natural although I know with practice this will acclimatise to becoming more comfortable and natural so not too stressed about that. I do recall the swimming gurus online saying don't move on to the next stage until you are comfortable with the previous drill.
So, more left arm strokes and left side breathing continuing with the float which I feel comfortable with and then transgress with an additional stroke with the right arm whilst still only breathing on the left. Each hand that isn't on a stroke hold on to the float. This wasn't consistent and needs more practice, but at least I know what drill has to be worked on now and a stage further than where I was on the last session.
Being the devil I am, I thought I'd try the drill with just the left arm and left side breathing without a float. I wish I didn't as the first serious panic took place after just a few strokes. It was clear I wasn't ready for this just yet!
Finally, there was two lengths of breaststroke to finish off and was feeling a little tired now. There was a check on the clock after getting out of the pool and walking closer to it to get a focus, then realising that this had been a 50-minute session. Longer than normal.
Showered, dried, dressed and walking home it felt good that there again was another little step into solving the freestyle breathing technique. As long as this continues great and not too worried about how long it takes. At the back of my mind always is the determination to complete that 2 mile swim in September even if have to do it with breaststroke or with a snorkel, the latter being the last resort.
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