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Travails of a Non-Swimmer

Like Riding a Bicycle

Last weekend my husband and I went to one of the local pools. We got up early and made sure to arrive at opening time. But alas! There were already loads and loads of people waiting to get in.

When I started to learn how to swim in January, the pools looked more like this, with maybe a dozen swimmers here and there:

An empty pool

We’re not allowed to take photos of the pool here so that one above is a pool in Poland. But you get the idea. On a Sunday morning there was a whole boat load of people, like this:

A ferry boat

Substitute the boat with a pool and you get the idea. Half of them were little children. There were anywhere from 15 to 25 people per lane. It was just so crowded.

After not having swum for nearly two months, I was super worried that I’d forgotten how. There was no space to do any kind of warm-up or TI drill on the 25m pool, so I did a very compact version of the Superman glide on the extremely shallow jacuzzi pool, and then simply went for it on the 25m.

In the end, I was able to swim about 200m, alternating between crawl and backstroke.

I could still swim!

Like Riding a Bike

But it was far from easy. Apart from the fact that it was so crowded I was practically touching the feet of the person in front of me and the arm of the person next to me (we were all swimming one way, two lines per way and covering two lanes), I was so out-of-shape and out-of-breath.

But I was still swimming. What a relief!

It reminded me of riding a bike. I taught myself how to ride a bicycle as a child, and found that many years later, despite not having ridden for decades, I still knew how to balance myself and ride away. Of course, it wasn’t easy navigating sharp corners or standing on the pedals and crunching up a hill. But the ability to ride a bike was still there, though like any skill that was left dormant for years, it was rusty and slow.

So the good news for swimming novices is that after a full two months of not touching water (aside from the shower or tub, of course), a person’s body still remembers how to swim.

Needless to say, the bad news is that if you’re a sedentary person like me who basically does zero exercise then the lack of energy and muscle mass will take its toll. Back when I was swimming three to four times a week in winter, 200m was a piece of cake, especially for the backstroke (my favorite stroke). Now I’m just happy to get from one end of the pool to the other.

Never-ending Story

As for my poor husband, who absolutely hates crowds, he was totally miserable the entire time. We paid for two hours of pool time each, and I wanted to stay until the very last minute. But he looked so distressed and unhappy we left 20 minutes before the cut-off time.

Turns out he caught the cold virus, given all those people in such a wet environment. It was pretty nasty so he stayed home for two days to recover, poor guy. Now he’s back in the office. But no more pools for him the rest of the summer, I guess.

I need to get back to an exercise regimen. I still want to lose a couple more kilos. Now that I no longer go to the gym I really need to get on with Billy’s Bootcamp otherwise I will be huffing and puffing during any type of physical exertion.

Looking back, it occurred to me that one of the reasons I found 200m difficult was that I was having trouble with propulsion and relying on my arms to do the pulling. I need to practice the TI switch drills and hip drive again to correct this.

I want to go to the pool again. Next time I plan to go on a weekday night and avoid the weekend even if it was the last day of my life!



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  • BrowserPhil

    I know what you mean about being out of shape. I work on the 3rd floor and had to go to the library in another bldg also at the 3rd floor. I had to go 5 times. When my friend invited me to jog later today I said I already had my exercise quota. I’ve become really out of shape since I stopped running and moved to a workplace where I’m not able to walk home from work anymore.

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