take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Out of my depth 

"Low impact!" they claimed.
"Effective, all-over exercise!"
"Your knees will thank you!"
"Just think, all you need is cycling and then you could do a triathlon!"

I guess I just expected it to be relatively easy.

I can run six miles, comfortably, on a regular basis. I recover almost immediately and have no aches or pains the following day. If I put my mind to it and build it up steadily, I know I can run over twice that distance.

I discovered this weekend that I can barely swim one length of a not-even-full-size swimming pool without having to stop, gasp awhile and wonder why, yet again, I have stumbled upon something at which I *so* want to be good but am *so* clearly not.

I learned to swim at school. I even got some little ribbons to sew onto my swimsuit. Not many, but some nonetheless. So, I can swim. By that, I mean that I am able to keep afloat in water for a limited period of time with varying levels of forward or backward propulsion, not always under my control. But I never consolidated that learning, I never perfected my technique, I never really felt confident in the water, not least because I never really felt confident enough wearing a swimsuit in public to be able to gain that confidence. And yes, I realise how utterly ridiculous that must seem. But it is, unfortunately, true.

There were attempts to get me into the water, particularly by my French boyfriend who liked nothing better than to dive into the nearest lake for a swim. And, in that region of France, not far from the Alps, there were quite a few lakes to choose from. I succumbed eventually, figuring that I was in France, no-one knew me, no-one would care about my thunder thighs and cellulite, so a quick dip would probably be acceptable. But despite the cool, blue, inviting water tempting me away from the blasting heat, I never got much beyond a panicky splash when out of my depth.

I so desperately want to start swimming regularly. I know it would be a wonderful complement to my running and provide a "backup" if I sustained an injury which meant I couldn't run. So this weekend, on a break with my family at a complex with indoor pool, after many years of not swimming, I set out in my new swimsuit to see what I could do. It has "shorts" style legs, so apart from covering up that hideous upper thigh area, it has the added boon that scrupulous bikini-waxing is not required. The fact that it makes me look a little like a wrestler is something we don't mention.

It was a learning experience.

I learned that breathing is compulsory. I learned that, when nervous, I sometimes forget to breathe. Don't laugh. Being a nervous swimmer is not a good combination. Once I started thinking about breathing and forcing myself to breathe, I improved. A little.

I learned that being able to run 6 miles is completely irrelevant to ability in the swimming pool and that, if I really want to do this, I will have to build it up gradually, exactly as I did with the running. A frustrating realisation.

What I haven't yet learned is to trust myself. I tend to panic - particularly when doing breast stroke: during the "lull" between each stroke, I feel like I'm going to sink, though I'm sure it's more to do with psychology than buoyancy. My main problem is that I never quite feel in control.

Verdict? Much room for improvement.
Likelihood of improvement? Watch this space...

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