Went for a swim this afternoon and it was a swim of two extremes.
The first extreme was irritation. That’s not much of an extreme really, compared to, say, murderous rage, but you know what I mean. It’s a very British extreme, irritation. And it’s hard to tut while swimming.
I was in the water for about 50 minutes today and during that time 5 different men swam and went in the slow lane. I had checked the medium lane when I got in and the people swimming there were much much faster than me so I didn’t shift over, which I sometimes do if the slow lane is busy.
All of the men were noticeably slower than me. I could give all of them a 15 metre head start and still caught them at the end of the length (25 metres today; the boom was over). One man and I collided when I moved out to overtake him towards the end of the lane to avoid being stuck behind him forever, and then he changed direction and we made contact. We both apologised, smiled, laughed, he let me go ahead and from then on we only ended up at the end at the same time every five or six lengths and he let me go ahead each time and it was fine. We had assessed each other’s relative speeds and adjusted our behaviour to compensate.
The other four men, however, would not let me pass at the end even though I was obviously faster. One of them would occasionally stop swimming and stand up in the middle of the lane, without checking there was anybody behind him. Inevitably, there was. Some people are just so unaware of what’s going on around them, it amazes me they haven’t all been hit by cars. I was absolutely astounded when the slowest of all suddenly decided to head off to the medium lane. I don’t know what happened to him – he didn’t come back, anyway.
But the other half of the swim, oh, the other half was perfection. I had made a conscious decision not to go fast today. My shoulder was sore yesterday and I just wanted to swim slowly, stay relaxed and not push myself. I know some of the people who stop by this blog occasionally are swimmers and they’ll know what I’m talking about. For a good few lengths, when I’d got the slow people behind me and nobody in front, I was able to get into that blissful state of just nothing but me and the water, me in the water. My technique was ok, I was moving smoothly, my breathing was fine, I felt powerful, strong, felt like I was good at what I was doing. You know when you watch someone doing something they’re really really good at – watching Torvill & Dean skate, or George Best cut a swathe through half a dozen defenders, or Cav going for the sprint on the Champs Elysee, or George Michael sing – and they make it look so easy and skilful. That’s how I felt today. My body was doing what I wanted it to do, it felt like it was doing it right and I felt like I could go on forever.
Then some twat in brown shorts stood up right in front of me and I nearly crashed.