It is 8:45pm on Thursday 22nd of February and I am not impressed. It is day one of Diabetes UK’s Swim22 challenge and I’ve decided to show the kind of ambition I normally reserve for drinking, by rocking up at the first opportunity and getting stuck in. However my enthusiasm has been replaced by disappointment, and whilst that is not an unusual feeling for yours truly, this is different. I have just walked out of the changing room, all the while sucking my belly in and trying to look as cool as you can with half of your body hanging out and goggles wrapped round your head, and the sight before me makes me want to weep. “For. Pete’s. Sake” I mutter to myself, or words to that effect. In front of me is a scene that all swimmers (I guess I’m one of them now) will no doubt relate to and ultimately fear; The swimming pool is packed. And by packed I mean it looks like a saucepan of baked beans. My disappointment has taken over and forced me to forget about my gravity defining gut suck as my cursing under my breath turns into a heavy sigh.
The swimming pool itself is 30 metres long and has been divided up. In one half of the pool there is a congregation of about 20 people, all in swimming hats bobbing up and down in the shallow end and doing, well frankly, not a lot. In the rest of this side of the pool there are some causal swimmers who are having a chat as they go up and down. They don’t swim full lengths, they reach the outskirts of said congregation, turn around and head back from where they came, but because there are a fair few of them this means they end up taking pretty much the width of this side of the pool up. The other half of the pool is divided into three lanes. Two of which are being used for Adult swimming lessons/coaching , leaving the one remaining lane for anyone who wants to swim lengths. This of course means that this lane is busy. I swear under my breath and vow to never come to the pool at this time of night again.
After speaking to a lifeguard to confirm that I can use this one lane (they also advise that the congregation is in fact a triathlon club), I get in the lane, pull the googles down and press play on my MP3 player (quick note about this – underwater MP3 players are the pooch’s plums. If you haven’t got one, then get one). ‘Moonage Daydream’ by David Bowie comes on and I sink my dome into the water and push off. The tranquillity of listening to Bowie underwater is soon replaced by frustration as a flaw in this one lane system soon becomes rather apparent. Everyone is at different speeds. This means I spend the majority of my session either up someone’s chuff or someone up mine. To top this off, by the end of the session my back was giving me some serious grief.
You see, I signed up to Swim 22, not just for the good cause and to support the work that Diabetes UK do, but also to shift some serious timber and get fitter. I am not a regular swimmer. I am not a gym fanatic, I am a 38-year-old bloke with middle age spread, the stamina levels of an asthmatic flea and the athletic physique of a tub of play dough. Because of this I took the lazy so n’ so’s way out and swam breaststroke for 30 lengths, which my iffy back is now painfully telling me off for. I am hoping as this challenge goes along to improve said pathetic fitness levels and be able to swim the majority of these lengths front crawl. I only (just) managed one length of it and even then I thought I was gonna sink halfway through and was cream crackered when I reached the end.
Still, I huffed and puffed and managed to get 30 lengths done and in the bag and you know what? I felt bloody proud of myself. Despite all of the above, I felt really pleased that I hadn’t given into the temptation to sack it off and start another day when I saw the crowd. The truth is, if I wasn’t part of Swim 22, if I had just gone to the pool myself I would have about-turned and headed home, but because I am part of something, because people have sponsored me and because people will ultimately benefit from that sponsorship, it made me get my chunky backside in the water and get on with it and I am really pleased I did. 30 lengths down, only another 1150 to go…
Once again, thank you to those of you who have sponsored me. If you want to sponsor me and help support Diabetes UK as well as motivate my lazy backside, you can so here. If you are interested in how I am getting on you can track the lengths I’ve done here.