Monday, June 8, 2009

I hate swimming (Part 1 of 10)

I told myself I was going to go swimming today. The community pools have scheduled lane swims on different days, and the one closest to my house has one on Monday mornings from 6:30 to 8. I tried to go last Friday, but I mixed up the times, so today was Day 1.

I am not a morning person. My swimming goal was secondary to waking up. Being awake and eating breakfast that early on a day I don't have to work is a victory in itself. I only hit the snooze button once, so that was good. I bolted down breakfast, grabbed my necessaries, hopped on my bike, and went to the pool.

Just like I am not a morning person, I am also not a swimming person. Public pools fill me with dread because of it. Backyard pools are fine. So are lakes. I love swimming in the sea, and I've gone out until the beach is just a smudge on the horizon. But public pools? I could feel my unease as I locked up my bike and walked in. The smell of chlorine hit me when the second set of sliding doors opened, and I wondered if it wasn't too late to get back on the bike.

I gave the lady at the front desk my debit card because I forgot to bring cash, and I decided to buy a 10-swim pass. I thought this would force me to come back so I could get my money's worth. The lady took a card out of a pack, punched a hole through the number 1, and handed it over with a smile and my receipt. Armed with my 10-swim pass, I turned around and... didn't know where to go.

"Through those sliding doors," she said.

Right. So I went into the men's change-room. Unfortunately, I was still without cash or change, so I had to leave my stuff in an unlocked locker. Oh well.

I hit the showers, and the hot water felt pretty good. Maybe this won't be so bad, I thought. Maybe. I was done showering, but I wasn't ready yet. I would like to say that I sucked it up and went out to the pool, but the truth is I showered again. Then I was ready. I opened the door to the pool, and I walked out to meet my fate.

There were three options. The first lane had a sign that said "Slow," with arrows telling you which direction to swim, just in case you prefer swimming counter-clockwise. The second lane was labeled "Medium," which seems like a better descriptor for size than speed. I don't know what the third lane said. Why bother? Whatever it was, it wasn't going to be for me. Medium was my goal, so I started in Slow.

I think I'd already passed the point of no return, but something in me was still telling me to turn back. I told it to shut up. I got in the pool (water temperature: agreeable), strapped on my goggles, and started swimming. Seven or eight strokes later I remembered to breathe, which felt nice, and I eventually made it to the other side of the pool. Water was getting into my right eye, but otherwise I was ok. I could do this.

I pushed off again, and that's when things started to annoy me. Like how hard it is to swim. Swimming isn't like biking, where you see yourself covering tons of distance, and you feel yourself going very fast. There is no hill where after a ton of exertion you sense the payoff as you speed down the other side. Swimming is just you and the water, the waves around you, and the jets that tell you there's a wall nearby.

I was awful. I won't even say how much I did (or how little), except that I was so glad the lifeguards changed before my final lap. At least the first lifeguard wouldn't see me leave so soon. (I know, I know... as if he cared.) But I was done. The things I thought were muscles felt like water (to my bench press, dumbbells, and elliptical: thanks a lot), and I was so out of it that I used body wash on my hair and shampoo on my body without realizing until I was almost done.

Whatever. The ordeal was almost over. I changed, packed my stuff, and walked out the doors to the place I left my bike. I have 9 days left on my pass, and I mean to make use of every one of them. The next swim is Wednesday morning, assuming I can wake up again. I'm hoping for improvement. I mean, I can't be that bad forever. Can I?


Official Sidekick said...

I've been meaning to do this forever... but i havn't gotten around to it.

I think you just inspired me to start swimming again :)

Errant Knave said...

Anytime :) My pain is your gain!

mel said...

i love it. i just found out there is a public pool literally one block over from our place. i'm diving in with a 4 month membership. beautiful thing that i can stroll on over in my flip flops, walk home in my towel if i choose, and it seems quiet enough.
ahhhh swimming - gliding through the water, pushing yourself until your lungs might explode and my fave part - never feeling sweaty. lol
good luck to you my friend, and enjoy!

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