11 October 2008
I Joined A Swim Team!
That's right, I started training with the London University Swim Team yesterday and I'm just about ready to collapse. I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my arms. Fortunately, it's not shoulder pain. I'm just that pathetically weak!
The whole thing started with an amazing walk through the city from my place to the pool (more on my place soon), which is located at the University of London campus. I asked a receptionist where the pool was and she pointed inanely in a general direction. Gotta just LOVE customer service in this country. LOVE.
So finally I run into the team's social secretary, who leads the way. Within minutes I'm being treated like I've been on the team for years. I'm loving the spirit! I do love spirit.
Naturally, I have completely forgotten how to be a good swimmer. I have no lock for my locker and NO TOWEL. I mean, who forgets a towel? We head to the pool deck and I meet a few of the other guys on the team. Everyone is cool and I'm loving the whole feeling of being on a "team" and getting in the pool and clipping in lane lines and saying "hey coach." Oh yeah, I said "hey coach" to the coach as if I knew him. He said "hey swimmer I don't yet." It was great. Turns out he used to coach the Macedonian National Team, so la-di-da!
Warm-up is a 400, your choice. I hop in last and immediately remember exactly what it feels like to pull your body through the water. It's exhilarating. I'm chugging along at a less than spectacular pace but I haven't been in the water in nearly four years, so I'm fine with it. So is the coach. "You'll get your fitness back. Just give it time. It'll come back." I'm feeling pumped.
Here's when I start to get irritated. It's a 400 so I'm thinking 16 laps. Everyone stops after 12 so I look like either the super slow person or the one who can't count. I generally despise looking like a fool when I've not done something foolish. We get our first set. It's "2's" (that means two laps) IM order, "8 times." That means do 8 of them. I'm learning the UK lingo. This goes fine, though I'm nearing passing out by number 6.
You see, this pool isn't exactly spectacular. There are no gutters and no lines on the bottom, so I'm bobbing and weaving while feeling like I'm in a backyard pool. There is also a massive jet blasting out hot water, which means you have to swim "upstream" to do a flip-turn. The pool is also feeling incredibly long. I just associate that with my being really out of shape. "You'll get your fitness back. Just give it time. It'll come back." I'm feeling pumped again.
The final set of the workout is 12 100's descending in sets of 3. OH MY GOD. I hang at the rear and we stop after 3 laps, which I'm thinking is only a 75 (assuming we're in a 100-yard pool). "Did he say 100s," I ask. "Yep. That was a 100," one of the guys tells me. Now, not wanting to tick anyone off my being a know-it-all, I just plaster a perplexed look on my face. He catches my drift. "It's a 33 meter pool, so 3 laps is 100."
WHAT?!?! Never in my life have I seen - much less worked out in - a 33 meter pool! I mean, that is regulation NOTHING. Not European, not American, just bizarre though oddly fitting at the same time. Needless to say, I'm feeling relieved to know that I am actually not as pathetic as I originally thought.
Workout ends, I scurry to the showers, rinse off and try and decide what to do about the whole lack of towel situation. Air-drying won't work because we're inside and it's humid inside. I could use my jeans but then I won't have any pants to wear. I decide on walking briskly from one end of the locker room to the other to build some wind. By lap three I'm still wet and now just really cold. Fortunately, I notice four hair dryers just near the door. Now, that's hot air blowing out of a machine. Perfect.
And that's how my first swimming workout in 4 years ended - me drying off with a hairdryer.