John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk


Every Sunday morning, there's a swimming race at Tooting Bec Lido, and today I took part for the first time.

When I went to the lido a few weeks ago, it took me a while to find my way around. Now that the lido is open to the general public (rather than just SLSC members), things have changed. In particular, there's a different entrance, next to the bike racks. After my first visit, I saw that everyone else just left their bikes by the side of the pool, so I did the same thing rather than carrying my lock. However, now that the bike racks are open for business, I'll need to take my lock with me in future. (Today I just folded my Brompton up and left it inside the cubicle with my clothes.)

I thought that it would start at 09:00, but it was actually 09:30. However, it's good that I was early because it gave me time to swim a couple of lengths as a warm up, or possibly a "cool down" - either way, I got used to the water temperature (about 17°C). As usual, I went down the steps at the shallow end (roughly thigh deep), then crouched down so that the water was up to my neck. I waited until I'd stopped gasping before I put my face in the water, but by the end of my second lap I was happy to fully submerge, which made my breaststroke and front crawl a bit better.

At the appointed time, all non-SLSC people had to get out of the pool, and we all lined up at the deep end to do one length (100 yards ~= 91 metres). Even when I did the OSS December Dip, I didn't jump/dive in properly, because I was too near to the shallow end. So, I decided that it was time to be a bit bolder. I don't know how to dive, so I just crouched down on the side and went into the water feet first, without reaching the bottom. Even though I'd already been in, it was still quite an intense experience, and definitely woke me up!

The emphasis is on fun rather than competition, so everyone gets a handicap: we all started at different times. I was given a time of 1:08, and we lined up so that the person on your right had a higher time. Rather than blowing a whistle, the organiser acted like the speaking clock, and I set off when he said "1-oh-8". Unfortunately, I wound up being the last one to finish, but it was fun, and they said that it would take about three races to calibrate my handicap. (The ideal scenario is for everyone to reach the far end of the pool at exactly the same time.)

I spoke to a few of the other swimmers, and they seem like a friendly bunch. They told me that I should interrupt conversations to join in, because they're not a clique. One of the other SLSC members has a blog (Unusual Love Affair in London), and I recognised a couple of people from there. The cafe (inside the pool area) has now opened, and it was nice to have a cooked breakfast afterwards, although it's a bit pricey (£6) so I won't do that every time I go.

In other news, I've started doing daily press-ups again. Based on past experience, it goes well until I stop for a few days, then I get out of the habit, and it just becomes a vague item on my "to do" list. I'm not exactly in peak physical condition at the moment, but I'm already seeing a cumulative benefit. When I first started (14th May), I couldn't do a single "full" press-up, so I just did 10 "halves" (keeping my knees on the ground). After that, I'd attempt a full press-up every day, fail, and stick to the halves. On 23rd May, I managed a full one, although it wasn't a very smooth motion; I then did the 10 halves as usual. Repeating that each day, the full one has got a bit better, and two days ago (28th May) I managed a second full one. So, I'm still a bit feeble, but I will eventually be able to manage 10 full press-ups every day. It only takes me a couple of minutes to do this, and I can afford that time, so I just need to apply a bit of self-discipline.
Tags: swimming

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