A long time ago (12 months), in a suburb (not that) far away...
I was stressed and exhausted. It was a really busy time of year and I was getting very little sleep or wind-down time in amongst everything else. The weather was warm and sunny, and I found myself longing to be out doing something active. This was a new and strange feeling for me (what?! Go outside?! But it's hot! And there's no air conditioning out there!!).
When to make things even stranger, I had a sudden urge to go swim some laps. I'd been trying to add a little exercise into my life, and I think the idea of being in cool refreshing water on a hot day (and, let's face it, not going for a run or some other kind of horrible outdoor exercise) was almost exciting!
Long story short, a couple of weeks later I found myself at our local swimming pool. It's gorgeous and old with a great sense of character and a real 'neighbourhood feel' to it. I love it! (that's not it in the above picture by the way.... that's just a google pool... lol!)
Anyway, the thing about swimming laps at a local pool, if you haven't done it, is that after the excitement of buying some goggles and paying for your pass and walking through the pool area feeling all summery and sporty and, well, 'cool', you find yourself standing at the side of the pool staring at the people who are 'actually cool'. And they swim those laps like machines. I stood there for about 5 minutes trying to decide whether it would be more embarrassing to get in the pool with the machines, or to walk back through the entrance past the women who knows I only came in 2 minutes ago...
But I told myself not to be a coward (pull yourself together woman!), watched everyone for another 10 minutes to try and figure out the rules, and then took a deep breath and forced myself to get in the water and (let's face it) annoy all the machines.
Here are some things I've learnt:
1) During busy times, there are lots of people in each lane. You're supposed to find a gap and jump in, joining everyone else in swimming up on the left and down on the right.
2) People don't love it when you accidentally kick them in the head.
3) Choosing the lane with the 'old people' in hopes that it will be a slower lane is not actually good practise. Not only do they often go much faster than the other lanes, but they'll also leave you feeling much worse than if you'd been in a lane with the Olympic swimmers (did that 95 year old woman just lap me?! AGAIN?!)
4) This one took me a while to learn, but: Don't Stress. If you're slow, people will just swim past you. And try not to take that personally. It's not worth drowning over (she says, with some experience)
But in the end, here is the thing I found most helpful:
5) Talk to the people at the front desk, and then through experience, work out the times when the serious swimmers are not going to be there! I avoid the 5-7am time slot, and the 5:30-7pm time slots, and I find that then I can really (really) enjoy my visits to the pool. On Saturdays or holidays, I like to go in the middle of the day for 30 an hour. Or when I finish work at 4pm, I love to go straight there and swim for a bit on my way home. I usually get a lane all to myself and can swim away with my (probably very incorrect... I keep meaning to watch some YouTube videos) swimming stroke.
I've been doing it for a year now, so I'm less intimidated. AND, I've noticed that I'm much fitter, faster and less breathy than I used to be. I love that sun on my back and the freshness of the water, and I love that when I get out, the stress of the day has generally faded and I've got a fresh wave of energy (get it? wave?!) to accomplish some more things that evening.
Of course, regardless of all this great experience and improvement, the 94 year old ladies continue to lap me... which continues to wound my pride.... just a little.... how do they do that?!!