I’m not going to lie to you. My swimming has gone down-hill. Not in the sense of a canal boat going down-hill, you know, through a lock. I mean the metaphorical down-hill. Despite knowing deep down that each day I am getting better, stronger and more efficient, I feel as though I am actually sinking a little closer to that big black line at the bottom of the pool each time I train.
I know it should be so easy. Especially residing in this lucky country where everyone was pretty much born in the water and could swim before they could walk. Seriously, I see people in the pool who in theory (based on my Terminator-style visual assessment of their mass, strength, fitness and general health) shouldn’t be breathing and actually look as though they have been dug up from the ground* yet they are lapping me ten times an hour.
My swimming is so bad I am genuinely being passed by the living dead.
And I put the call out on a daily basis for tips. For instance, thanks to Gen-Y Slater who sits opposite me at work, I now know I shouldn’t be dragging my arm straight down through the water, as it creates too much drag. But no matter how many times I practiced the demonstration stroke in the office, it’s just not translating to the pool. And Freddo Frog Finance Dave – thanks for the drills, but going the “one-armed-whats-it-called-thingamy-catch-up” is not really an option at this point, since I struggle to get to the end using both arms, both feet and fins. I’m actually surprised I don’t need those little blow-up armbands.
And the envy I am experiencing is almost making me feel worse. Today I watched my husband glide up and down the pool as if the hand of Moses himself were parting the waters in front of him. I couldn’t even see him take a breath. Perhaps he is amphibian. I felt a tinge of jealousy, but it was softened by genuine awe at his goddamn aquatic prowess. Damn Australians. How can you all be so good at swimming?! Even the could-be-mistaken-for-corpses – I might not be jealous of looks that usually come accompanied by rigamortis, but I am JEALOUS OF YOUR STROKE.
How are they doing it?? Every single person in the pool is kicking sub-aqua butt out there. And here am I, catching my breath every hundred metres.
I have one theory, and feel free to leave a comment if you agree (or are mega-offended…). This might come as a shock to some of you, but in my experience, us Brits (aside from the exceptional few, and David Hemmings who I went to school with who LOVED swimming) are generally, not very good at swimming. And it’s pretty obvious why: picture Manly Beach. Balmy Pacific waves lapping against a soft burnt-ochre shoreline. And now picture Brighton Beach. You got it – freezing cold BROWN English Channel smashing onto the unforgiving black and grey pebbles. That was our childhood swimming dream. And anyone game enough to strive for the dream of becoming a champion swimmer had to make it through the cloud of plankton-like plasters (band-aids), clumps of hair and who-knows what else in the one local pool that catered for about twenty local communities. In fact, when I was growing up, there were only five olympic sized pools in the whole of the UK. Yet there are over twenty 50m pools in Melbourne alone. You do the math.
To summarise, we didn’t stand a chance. But you know what, I wake up in the morning now, and I have a choice of pool. Not just a choice of pool, but a choice of OLYMPIC pool. And a choice of indoor heated or outdoor heated. So I really need to up my game a bit and stop making excuses. And by the end of next week, I want to be able to say that I beat that 97 year old little lady in a 1km time trial. I want to beat that lady with the purple rinse (who neither gets her hair wet nor wears goggles and only does breaststroke) to the end of the pool just one time. I want to beat that morbidly obese man, who may or may not be wearing speedos, in the 400m freestyle.
I can only pray that this day comes sooner rather than later. And then I will double-fist pump the air in celebration of my mighty victory. IN YOUR FACE CORPSE-SWIMATHONS.
I should probably go to bed now. It’s been a long day, as you may have already guessed.
*thanks to Ben Mather for this reference