Sunday, October 18, 2009

Swimming Again

I set the alarm for half past seven and didn't much feel like getting up when it went off.

But I'd packed my swimming stuff the night before and really wanted to try out the early-morning swimming on a Sunday to see how crowded it was.

I'm hoping to do the Great North Swim next year and I love swimming anyway - - so I thought it would be good to do it regularly.

I've always been rubbish at most sports. I'm short and not built for running. I used to be able to hit a tennis ball with reasonable accuracy - - but if it was then returned, I could never run fast enough to hit it back again. I used to be able to do a pretty good handstand against a wall, but never one in the air - I simply didn't see what would stop me going over flat on my back, and indeed that would probably have happened.

I could never do a headstand. Never in a million years. I could do quite a good crab. I could skip quite well but that was mostly because I spent hours and hours and days and weeks and months and probably years of my childhood skipping.

I always liked the idea of the equipment in the gym, but could never climb a rope, or indeed anything else, much. I used to watch sadly as almost everyone else went over the vaulting-horse - I just didn't have long enough legs - - or enough spring.

So PE lessons were always really dull and depressing for me as I just wasn't any good at anything. It didn't help me that my mother, and her mother before her, had both been sporting sensations - my mother was Captain of Leeds University hockey team, and had been training for the Olympics in swimming until Hitler bombed Barrow-in-Furness swimming baths. Both grandparents on my mother's side were terrific amateur gymnasts - my grandma was always the tiny one on the top of the human pyramid.

But all these genes passed me by - except for the swimming. Even so, I'm not fast at it - - but my stroke's not bad. And one thing I do have is stamina: I tend to rely on that rather too much in all aspects of life!

I got to the pool by about twenty past eight and there were three or four people in the changing room. There was a metal grid keeping the pool closed but at half past eight they lifted it and we all went into the water.

I usually do forty-two lengths (just over a kilometre which is forty lengths) but the Great North Swim is a mile across a very cold Windermere, in the Lake District. So I thought I'd better increase the distance a bit to build up to a mile in the pool, which is sixty-four lengths.

The pool was set out for swimming lengths, and for a while more and more people kept coming - the lengths swimming goes on until half past nine. For a while I was stuck behind someone who was slower than me - not that I'm very fast! - but she just wouldn't let me past! Whatever direction I went in to try to overtake, she swerved in the same direction. After a while she got out and I was rather selfishly grateful.

When I'd done thirty-five lengths I was a bit tired but after another couple of lengths my body seemed to work out that it was going to swim for a while more yet - - and suddenly it all became easier. My stroke seemed better and I seemed just to glide through the water more easily. Then I realised that almost everyone else had got out - - because the family swim starts at half-past nine and parents with children were beginning to arrive.

But there weren't many of them in the pool yet, so I just kept going. I got to forty lengths and thought I would do another ten. I got to fifty lengths and thought - hey, I'm not tired, I'll just keep going. I got to sixty lengths and thought - - well, I might as well do the full mile now.

As I finished the sixty-four lengths I felt really pleased and then thought - - what if I've counted wrong? I didn't think that I had, but I did an extra couple, just in case.

I was going slightly slower than my usual rate of a length a minute - which sounds fast but really isn't if you watch a Proper Swimmer! - and it took me exactly an hour and a quarter to do the mile.

I came back home all full of energy, but I expect I'll be tired later. I loved every minute of it though. I'll be doing it again as soon as I can.


Anonymous Milo said...

Well done! That is a heck of a long swim! Makes me feel even more guilty reading stories like that that I don't do any exercise any more (other than pilates 1x a week which we get in-house).

As you may recall, I once got quite into running and was just the same as you in terms of pushing myself each time I reached a milestone. The most I ever did was 10km (on the treadmill) and felt amazing for it (though legs totally knackered the next couple of days). It's sooo good for the mind and body to do cardio like swimming and running. I really do want to get back into it. Am in the process of finding a gym near to work.

As I've also mentioned, I've put on a stone over the past year and I'm really looking forward to getting rid of it which is a good goal to aim for.

Good luck with the Big Swim! Sadly, I am not, nor ever have been a strong swimmer. Can't do more than a few lengths. I seem to lack the upper body strength.

4:35 pm  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

well done I never did master swimming

4:41 pm  
Blogger Misgrace said...

Good for you; am your ally in my own little municipal pool. But one mile: bravo !!!

4:48 pm  
Anonymous ruth said...

I used to love early morning swimming - it really sets you up for the day, not that I ever swam a mile. Congratulations and good luck for great north swim. I wonder if your mother would do it too!

4:54 pm  
Blogger Jennytc said...

Wonderful! Like you, I was never any good at sporting activities at school - even worse than you, because I was no good at anything! It meant that PE and Games lessons were pure misery!

9:51 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Excellent! Well done Daphne! I also love to swim but I much prefer warm, clear seas that do not smell of chlorine and do not echo with the sound of parents shouting "What about your armbands?"

11:55 pm  

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