Thursday, January 25, 2007

Swim Fan

I mentioned a couple a months ago that I have done an about face in my attitude towards home owning. It seems that I am in the process of overthrowing a number of prejudices that I once fiercely cherished and defended. Today's demonstration of this phenomena involves swimming.

Like many kiwi kids I was given formal swimming lessons and by about 7 or 8 years old I could manage a length or two of the school pool in a thrashing motion that bore some vague resemblance to the crawl or sometimes breast stroke or back stroke. I liked hanging out at the public swimming pool across the bridge from our house, but I didn't really do much swimming there, mostly just solitary play, imagining myself as a synchronised swimmer making endless somersaults in the water.

By high school my aversion to sports of any kind was pretty much complete, wearing a swimming suit was a source of humiliation, and my long, thick hair weighed a tonne when wet and took at least 4 hours to dry. So all in all, swimming became a rare and not very attractive activity. There was a brief interlude of early motherhood when taking my daughter to the pool was an excellent thing to do, but sitting in the toddlers pool doesn't really count as swimming for grown ups does it?

Fast forward through a couple of decades of excuses (I don't like the chlorine, the water's too cold, I won't have time to dry my hair properly etc) to January 2007. I had spent New
Year's Eve alone with a hole in my foot from falling on a pronged garden tool that afternoon. For the next two weeks I avoided walking, usually my main exercise, and while I was lying around I brainstormed alternative exercises that wouldn't involve my left foot in any weight-bearing commitments. The idea of swimming swum up from the depths of my imagination, and somehow avoided being snagged on all the reasons I didn't like it. Helpfully, the weather in Northland this month is exceedingly hot, and the idea of immersing myself in a cool, refreshing body of water suddenly had unprecedented appeal.

I found an enthusiastic buddy (with spare goggles), a mutually convenient time and made my first visit to the public pool in Whangarei. I swam six lengths of the 25 metre pool that day, with plenty of rests in between. It took a few lengths before I remembered how to co-ordinate breathing with all the arms and legs flailing about, but eventually it got easier. I was so satisfied with the experience that my buddy and I made a regular swim-date. The second visit was harder work somehow but I made it to 11 lengths (over 1/4 km!) and have set a goal of 16 for next week.

Yes, the chlorine is yucky, yes my wet hair is like wearing a horse on my head for the rest of the evening, yes I'm self-conscious about my hirsute thighs and flabby torso... but now the pleasure of of moving through the water towards my goal of increased fitness carries more weight.

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