I can swim. I grew up swimming and took the Red Cross swimming lessons up to gray (do they have badge colours here in the UK?) and have always felt pretty confident in the water, save for a slight over my head (literally the waves were) experience surfing in Santa Cruz.
Since those swim lessons most of my swimming has been beach oriented and a few floats in lakes. I’m now signed up for the World Triathlon in London at the end of May and decided to jump back in the pool to try some real swimming again. Luckily Alex is an ace swimmer. He grew up playing water polo so swimming without people trying to drown him is easy work. We decided to go to the London Olympic Aquatic Centre for my first practice as it’s a 50m pool so you get a bit more practice of continuous swimming than in the 25m pools. Plus, IT’S THE OLYMPIC POOL!
On my way to the pool I stopped at the Speedo store and bought a more appropriate swimsuit than my M&S rainbow suit, a quick stop at Primark for flipflops and I was set. I followed Alex to the pool deck with a million questions, “Do I jump in? How slow is slow? When do I put my goggles on?” Once I was in the water it was just a matter swimming, straight-ish, towards the other end.
It was hard. It was way harder than I remembered and everything seemed inefficient. I couldn’t breathe right, my legs were trying to do the running motion they’re used to, and my swimcap hurt my forehead. I did a few laps of freestyle and then switched to breaststroke which I found way harder (my hips did not like moving like that) but figured I should try in case I need a break during the triathlon. I think I did about 600m before calling it a successful first day back in the pool and headed to Wahaca for margarita rewards.
We headed back to the pool a few days later for a second try. I think swimming is like riding a bike (there’s a triathlon mixed metaphor for you) as this time was way easier and I bashed out 400m of freestyle right away with little to no problems breathing. I threw in a few more hundred breaststroke and a last 100m of freestyle to end on a good note and climbed out of the pool a la Michael Phelps.
Today I dropped in on London Fields Lido as I had the day off and felt pretty good in the medium lane (!!!) doing 1000m of freestyle. I highly recommend London Fields for anyone who will be doing an open water swim as part of their tri. It’s a heated 50m pool yes, but it’s outside so there are loads of floaty bits in the water (that you will swallow don’t be shy) and the wind/rain is good practice for the big day.
I am enjoying swimming and think it might stay in my weekly routine for a while. Plus it’s a whole new opportunity for selfies. Double-chin-swim-cap-selfies are all the rage this spring.