March Miscellany

A few things have happened this month, some good some, some not so good…..

The Dart 10 k

Registration opened for the Dart 10 K 2013 recently, and a day or so later, registration closed, with all 700 places taken.  Luckily I managed to get in there early and get my registration accepted.  This year I am planning to swim it without wetsuit.

River Dart, Devon, UK

River Dart, Devon, UK

Last year there were a whole bunch of people who got pulled out due to the cold, and they were in wetsuits.  Cold is very much a subjective thing, but the 12 degree start temperature is generally regarded as ‘chilly’ by all but the most hardened skin swimmers.  You need to get a special OK to not wear a wetsuit.  Hopefully I will have sufficient cold OW credits to convince them before the event, but currently I have precisely zero experience of water this cold; I am looking forward to the opening of Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge.

Jesus Green2

Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge – Chilly

Jesus Green Lido is amazing – 100 yards of unheated outdoor goodness.  This year it opens on 18th May, and is free to allcomers on that day.  Shouldn’t be too much of an overcrowding issue, as it’s a very large pool and people probably won’t be stopping in very long in the cold water.  Last year it started off at around 14 degrees……

I Got a Bad Back – Again

I had a bad back last May, the month before my first proper OW swim in Suffolk.  It was properly bad, several days horizontal on some fairly weighty analgesics and valium.  This year it was pretty bad, but at least I could still walk, albeit with some discomfort.  Happily though, the one thing I could do apart from lie down, with no discomfort was to swim.  The doctor and the physio were totally happy with me doing that.  Apparently the bottom 5 vertebrae that are meant to move don’t really move very much.  The physio wasn’t sure whether these were the cause or the consequence of the enormous muscle spasms I seem to get on occasion.  After a few weeks of exercises I will go back and she will tell me…..

I Have Started Swimming More

I am now aiming at 25K/week, 100K in the month of March.  It’s not going too badly; I am up at 69K for the month so far, so in good shape to hit the 100K in March, despite a reduction for a few days with the bad back.  Surprisingly, there haven’t been any issues with soreness – it’s been pretty good.  There have been times when I have passed out on the sofa of an evening (this tends to be aided by one or more glasses of wine), and I have been eating, a lot.  Despite all of this extra eating, I continue to lose weight.  I am down to 15 stone 7, under 100 kg for the first time in about 12 years.  The fat that I am losing is what is going to keep me alive in the Channel, so I am quite concerned, even to the point of posting on the Marathon Swimmer’s Forum:

http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/90/when-to-gain-weight-for-a-channel-swim#Item_18

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Lane Discipline

I am not typically one for a rant, but there are some things that really tick me off in life.  Injustice, whether real or just perceived is one of them.

Yesterday I went up to the local pool for a swim.  I was there at 7 when it opened, hoping to to do at least 5 miles before my wife dropped the kids off to join me for a splash around at 9.30.  All goes well between 7 and 8, as there are 4 lanes dedicated for lane swimmers, as well as a big wide double lane for people who are floating around, playing with their kids or whatever.

At 8 , they then prepare 3 of the 4 lanes for kids’ swimming lessons, and the swimmers that remain get put in a single, not especially wide, swim lane, and left to get on with it.  So now it’s mixed ability, but still things go well.  There’s only a few of us in there, and we manage to rub along well together.

But then, half way through mile 5, a new swimmer joins the lane, who starts doing a number of annoying things:

(1) swimming really slowly.  While this is annoying, they can’t be blamed for beinig slow.  Infact all the other swimmers that morning except one had been slower than me, so no biggie.

(2) At the shallow end, stopping 5 metres before the end of the lane, standing up slowly, then setting back off in the other.

(3) They have a diabolical breaststroke technique where the legs mainly go sideways out from the body rather than backwards, resulting in anyone overtaking them getting a kick in all likelihood.

(4) When being overtaken at the deep end, pushing off in front of the overtaker regardless, leaving the said overtaker angry.

Having said this, there were a number of other common sins the swimmer did not commit:

(5) After stopping at the end of the lane, waiting till you are just coming in before deciding to push off again just in front of you.

(6) When being overtaken safely by someone, speeding up to a pace previously not possible.  It’s generally men who do this.

(7) Having the world’s most asymmetric swimming stroke, where one arm comes over in a magnificent steepling, vertical arc, while they breathe to that side, while the other arm comes over almost parallel with the surface of the water, threatening to decapitate passing swimmers.

(8) When turning, pushing off down the middle of the lane rather than the outgoing side.

There is one guy at the pool near my work who regularly exhibits behaviours (4) to (8) all in one session.   Needless to say, not a desperately popular individual.

But anyway I digress.  Let’s return to the session yesterday:

After quite a lot of (1) to (4) going on, my fellow swimmer then excelled themselves by combining (1), (3) and (4) in a single deep end manouevre,  and at that point I did something a little bit silly.  I was so cross, I pushed off right behind them and swam directly underneath the swimmer with some very pretty underwater breaststroke, then surfacing in front of them and carrying on my merry way.

But then, a couple of lengths later, I was tapped on the head by a lifeguard and told that there had been a complaint, and could I be more considerate of other swimmers.  I asked her whether she was going to impart a few simple tips on lane discipline to the complainer rather than just telling me off.  She said ‘Do you really want me to do that?’.  I just shrugged and said ‘No don’t bother’.

I then sat at the shallow end, had a drink, felt cross, and tried to regain my composure, mentally deal with the perceived injustice etc.  At this point, the complainer then stopped and gave me a mouthful:

According to her, me getting kicked as I went past her was actually ‘me barging into her’.  Me swimming underneath her was apparently beyond contempt, and I had ‘kicked her in the face’ as I had surfaced.  This was a blatant fib.  She might have got a bit of splash, but you know when you kick someone.

I was dumbstruck.  I just did the ‘I can’t believe what I am hearing’ goldfish thing with my mouth, before uttering a rather lame ‘whatever’ and being left to stew.  My session was over.  Even though I had a little while before the kids arrived, I had had enough……

My lesson I think is to avoid this situation, by avoiding this session.  There will always be the occasional person like this, and I struggle to deal well with them.  And after all, fast people (and I use that term loosely – read other posts and you will be aware I am moderate at best) are in the minority.  But finding a pool session where you can swim for hours and hours is tough…..

Rant over.