Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Though I'm stronger, will I ever get faster?

I've pondered over (or is it just 'pondered' without 'over'?) this question (see clever headline) as I have many others (such as ponder and whether it needs 'over' after it) for many months. 

No more brackets (I promise). Sorry, just enjoying a glass of wine before dinner (which might explain brackets and smart-arse (but annoying) bracketed asides).

The thing is, I'm not any faster in the ocean than I was 12 months ago or even two years ago. I've been going to swim squad in the pool for 1.5 hours, three days a week for the past six months. I also do the occasional ocean-swim squad so you'd think there would be some improvement - even if it's a couple of minutes here or there. 

Why am I still slow? Here are my considered thoughts:
1. Technique: My two daughters Precious Princess (who is, as I write, in Florence, Italy, checking out David) and Miss Hissy-Fit (aka The Hiss) both learnt to swim from an early age. 

PP looks like she's not trying. She appears to breeze along with her feet barely kicking and arms a bit loose and floppy. But looks can be deceiving. When she's in racing form (in Italy she's eating lots of gelato, pasta and pizza) she's fast. I've watched her effortlessly glide past bemused boofy blokes who've underestimated her power and ability.

The Hiss never competed like her sister and she's not as speedy or graceful. But she's still a neat, efficient swimmer who can go the distance. 

I never had formal swimming lessons. We had a pool when I was eight years old and living in a red-brick house my dad built in St Ives in suburban Sydney. I remember dog paddling, duck diving and playing mermaids in the deep end. Where was my mother? Probably cleaning the house.

As a result of this lack of tuition, my crawl/freestyle/overarm technique sucks and I'm useless at backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. 

2. Flotation: I was not a witch in another life. I sink. My friend Ms Fivestar is nice and round. As a floater, she's witch material. If her asthma wasn't so bad she'd swim much faster than me (but I would never let her know that). 

This is why in ocean swims you see bobbly shapes racing to the finish line for first place.

3. Kick: I can't. I've got a bloke brain when I swim. I find it hard to multi-task so my arms do most of the work and my legs very little. I have to focus on my legs to get them moving.

4. Former injuries from a misspent youth: *Shakes Head* Right hip - stuffed. Right shoulder - badly dislocated when I was in my mid-20s. Back - stuffed.

5. Age: Maybe I'm scaping the bottom of the excuse barrel with this one because some of the most accomplished competitors on the ocean-swims circuit are well over 40. For example, 59-year-old Don Boland finishes with the elite swimmers as does Kristie Krenkels. But sometimes I feel tired.

6. My head: Attitude is everything, even for the amateur competitor. 

I missed the 2011 Cole Classic because I was sick. I do remember the temperature: 40 degrees. This pic is from the 2010 event. The weather in Sydney today is similar.

I will try to remember this quote from Stephen Hawking during the Cole Classic ocean swim at Manly this Sunday: 

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down to your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up." 
Professor Stephen Hawking on his 70th birthday.

Speak soon. 


Eleni Konstantine said...

Hi Shayne, I admire your persistence and working on your swimming. You are doing and that is a reward in itself. I've started an exercise routine recently and while I don't think I will ever be faster, I'm just glad to be out there and doing. So maybe the point is just that - you are doing. Does it matter that others are faster?

Keep up the great work. x

Shayne said...

Hi Eleni,
No. You are right. It doesn't matter that they're faster but it still pisses me off!