Tuesday 3rd September – An Hour is the Limit
Back to my home town of Yambol and the routine of attending the local school swimming pool is yet again on the agenda today.
After swimming in saltwater, there is a tendency to think this session will be harder in freshwater with less buoyancy. With this in mind is was anticipated that I would be pegged down a bit from the elation of sea swimming a couple of days ago and back to reality in non-sea waters.
With another hot and sunny day in Yambol, I knew there would be a few swimmers, even late in the day, I was right as kids were, mucking around in the outer lanes and other swimmers in the middle lanes so it was sharing again. I chose a lane with a swimmer going up and down with a technically sound freestyle stroke. A couple of lengths of breaststroke just to get started. As I joined him we automatically chose to take the right-hand side of the lane, just like the traffic on the roads. It was unnerving each time we passed each other, not so much the first two lengths, but once into freestyle. Somehow it didn’t affect him as he continued with his elegant strokes gliding gracefully through the waters like a dolphin. Then there was me, tensing up as leading up to the pass and tending to hit the lane divider on my right side rather than risk getting too close to my lane partner. At least I didn’t stop or revert to breaststroke which is what happened on many occasions before. This is progress I guess in that sense. It was still a sense of anxiety felt in those situations.
Once the freestyle started there was no going back as we shared the lane for about 15 minutes. He departed leaving me less agitated with no need for passing. It was just the kids in the next lane I had to contend with. They were playing around sitting on the lane divider, then diving under it into my swim area and actually underneath me as I swam past. What can you do other than carry on?
As each length was completed there were varying phases I went through. Unless I concentrated on the relaxing and gliding it didn’t happen and I had to re-focus again to make it return. The longer the swim went I had to do this more frequently.
I knew whether I was swimming efficiently just by how it felt, but there was another factor that told me. The number of stroke cycles it took to swim the length. This was discovered in a previous session and I have not taken now this up and count the strokes regularly. 10 strokes and the efficiency is good, when it goes to 11 or twelve I need to focus again. But like I said I know roughly how many strokes it would be from one end to the other by the feel.
With all swimmers out bar one now it was a push to get the lengths in. When the last person got out of the pool leaving me alone, I knew that I had paid to swim for an hour and the time must have been up at this point. I don’t think they mind being over a bit, this is Bulgaria and time factors don’t mean much here. However, being English there is a sense of guilt going beyond the hour. At this point I had no idea what the time was being short-sighted I can’t see the clock on the wall without getting out of the pool to get nearer.
I wanted to carry on swimming, not from the point of enjoying but from seeing how long I could sustain the swim. But the English in me was too much to ignore as I ended the session with a couple of sprint lengths. No breaststroke in sight at the end.
Looking at the clock it was no 17:55. I had been swimming non-stop for one hour ten minutes. Not as long as the sea swim at the weekend, but this was freshwater and takes more effort so I was quite satisfied with that. It was on reflection good that a degree of stress with sharing a lane at the beginning as that is what will happen as the start of the event. After the initial scramble, more space will come about. Although frustrating at the time it really is ideal to have this happening regularly in the pool.
By figuring out was that as it stands I don’t know what it would feel like to double that time. There is always the option of breaststroke and stopping on the tow float if need be, but it that cheating? Somehow, just completing the 2-mile course is not enough now, the challenge now is to do it non-stop if possible. With a wetsuit surely that is possible. Or is a wetsuit cheating?
One concern is not having tried the wetsuit other than 10 minutes in the sea. I think I will have to try it out in the swimming pool one day regardless of the certain strange looks I will get. Maybe the next session which is planned for Thursday. What the hell!
All in all an hour isn’t enough in the pool now. It closes at 18:00 and is too busy with kids before 17:00, so not really an option to extend that time there. Another session in the sea may be possible before the event so I will try and make that happen.
All in all, looking good and more than anything can’t wait to complete the challenge and get back on my bike.
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