Tag Archives: swimming

The Swimming Pool

So a while ago I signed myself up for a new challenge. To swim 22 miles in 12 weeks. That is apparently the same distance as swimming the Channel. Although, as it is done in a pool it’s without any added dangers such as big boats, jelly fish, and sharks.

When I signed up it seemed like a really good idea. Our gym has a lovely open air pool, which is always pretty quiet. Apparently not everyone is as keen as me on the great outdoors. Even though the pool is nice and heated unless it is a glorious summers day there is rarely anyone in.

However what I hadn’t factored into my swimming challenge was that the lovely quiet outdoor pool shuts at the end of October. Therefore the majority of the 22 mile slog was actually going to have to be done in the indoor pool. Well frankly I think swimming the Channel itself might actually have been an easier option.

It seems that there is no time when the pool isn’t absolutely packed. If it’s not full of kids trying to see how much water they can knock out of the pool, it’s full of old people reenacting scenes from Cocoon. 6 am the gym opens, so you’d think that would be a good time to go. Nice and early to beat the crowds. Well you’d be wrong. 5.55 am I arrived the other day and there was a queue of octogenarians channelling their inner Usain Bolt. As soon as the clock struck 6 they shot off through the turnstiles, literally running to be the first in the changing rooms, a pile of walking sticks and zimmerframes left in their wake.

The other problem with indoor swimming is the dreaded lane choice. There are three lanes, slow, medium and fast. Choosing which to go into is a nightmare. Try the slow lane at 6 am and sometimes you have to poke the other swimmers just to check they are actually breathing. Medium would probably be my lane of choice yet again this can be tricky as working out if you are supposed to swimming clockwise or anticlockwise can take up valuable time. The biggest nightmare is accidentally getting into the fast lane. If that is the only empty lane I’ll jump in there, but then you are stuck if someone else gets in. Obviously you can’t just get out and swap lanes, what would people think? Instead you end up having to swim as fast as you possibly can for six lengths and then pretend that was all you had time for. This involves getting out of the pool, staring pointedly at the clock for longer than completely necessary and then hurrying into the changing room as though in a rush.

  It really is no surprise that more people don’t take up swimming when it is fraught with such anxiety. It is a lesson to us all though that signing up to swim 22 miles might seem like a good idea, reality isn’t all its cracked up to be. It’s a good job it’s all for a good cause!




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A time of torment

I, like most people I’m sure, like to have a routine. It’s what keeps society ticking round. Whether it’s planning what to read next, or working out how to store my books, it all boils down to routine. I have the signed books on the top shelf, those to be read on the next one down, and the rest wherever they can fit. That’s my routine and it works well. Even purchasing books I have a routine. Into Waterstones, straight to the crime section at the back of the store, quick browse of the books on the middle tables, a scoot round new releases and then the main shelves from Z to A (I like to go against the flow)

Whilst I understand the need for routines I do find many people’s routines just odd.   There is a woman who goes swimming every lunchtime. She’ll swim for half an hour, she then gets out, blow dries her hair and then has a shower. Surely that’s just the wrong way round? I imagine the older people get the more they hang on to their routines. After all if The Chopper (see here for explanation) didn’t stick to his routine, bodies would soon start piling up and the whole streets business could fold.

However surely people should change their routines when they are not working? Supermarket shopping for example. As someone who works full time the only options for me shopping for food is either to go at 6.30am as I did Monday, or to go on a Saturday. This is not my idea of fun but it’s a necessity. If I was retired however I’d never go shopping on a Saturday. I’d pick the quietest day I could find. For some reason though old people still clog up the aisles on a Saturday blocking the path whilst they debate the best tin of spam to buy.

The whole  thing just gets worse in the run up to Christmas. Christmas shopping is like torture to me. Everywhere you go there are shops belting out Christmas songs over the loud speakers, groups of idiots in Christmas jumpers pretending they are having a good time and old people dithering around in Waterstones doorway. There should be dedicated days for people to shop. Retired people on a Thursday, those who work Saturdays could shop on a Friday, normal people on a Saturday and then people who like to aimlessly browse the shops for no real purpose other than to waste time could go on a Sunday.

In fact this system could be extended out not just to shopping but all sorts of activities. Swimming is a good example, I like to go if possible before work. Yet this is one of the busiest times with old (older!) women who stand around blocking the hair dryers whilst discussing the latest round of golf they have played. Pubs is another idea. I like a nice quiet drink on an evening, not to be surrounded by screaming kids. I have no problem with well behaved children in a pub at 5 pm, but surely they should all be in bed by 8? No pub ever survived by purchases of fruit shoots alone.

I actually think I’ve hit on something here. A little change in everyone’s routines and then everyone would be happy. Plus it would make my journey to the crime section a lot easier without the doorway ditherers.



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The Swimmer

I went swimming yesterday. That in itself is nothing to write home about, as I go a couple of times a week. Yesterday however I went to a nice posh outdoor pool courtesy of Mr F’s gym, which as you can imagine being a foggy November morning in Leeds was extremely quiet. This made a nice change from my usual tiny pool at a local hotel, which recently I seem to have been stuck sharing with an escaped warthog doing breaststroke. It’s not that I mind sharing the pool, in fact there are some lovely women that go to my gym and we’ll often pass the time of day whilst getting changed. However I suspect the new woman has watched a humpback whales guide to swimming. Everytime she surfaces it is as though she is trying to spout water through a blow hole. It wouldn’t be so bad if she actually made any progress, but despite her goggles and speedo swimming costume every time she does a stroke she bobs down and surfaces practically in the same place.

In the lovely empty pool of this morning’s swim it occurred to me that pretty much all my hobbies have one thing in common. They embrace the peace and quiet of solitary life. Obviously my main hobby is reading, which is done preferably without the interruptions of outside life. I also enjoy running (well walking mostly but I like to call it a run) This usually consists of just me and my latest talking book plodding slowly around a very quiet moor, with the occasional good morning shared between fellow exercisers. I also like horse riding, which is currently occupying my Sunday mornings and this is just me, Timmy the horse and my instructor so again lovely and quiet.

Of course there are exceptions to this idea, music being one. I like my music loud and heavy, and I enjoy concerts with the throngs of people milling around, but on the whole I’m a big fan of peace and quiet.

At the risk of sounding much older than my current sprightly young years, in my opinion that is one of the worst things about mobile phones. The destruction of peace and quiet. You can’t even go on a nice train journey with a good book without being subjected to someone else’s phone calls or having to listen to their music through annoying tinny ear phones. It is always rubbish music as well, I wouldn’t mind so much if they played a bit of Slash or Foo Fighters but it is always some imitation Take That, disco, house music ( whatever that is, I’m never really sure) As for people talking on their phones, unless they are a doctor and talking through a major operation until such time as they can arrive and save someone’s life, then I’m pretty certain their call just isn’t that important.

I suppose at least with other people’s phone calls or music I can try and block it out with another audible talking book, unfortunately there is no such luck with the warthog doing breaststroke. If only there was a waterproof phone and headset.

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