Swimming Woes

It has only been 9 weeks since my knee starting having its little hissy fit, but already I feel as though I could write a book about things that irritate me about swimming. Perhaps part of the rage is because I managed a paltry 1.3 mile run today before I had to throw in the towel. Instead of rattling off a million pool-related quibbles, however, I’ll settle for venting about only 3.

1. Wave goodbye to nice hair.

Appreciating the softness of natural hair is still kind of novel to me. From my early teens I would bleach, colour, re-bleach, re-colour, and generally abuse my hair to the point that it was entirely normal to expect it to break off sporadically in chunks. Then I settled for black, and rode the goth train for a good half decade, eventually reaching the point where I no longer wanted to be a fat, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, sleep-deprived mess. One of the things I stopped doing is dying my hair, which entailed a year of horrendous regrowth; a stage during which not many photographs survived, thankfully, and those that still exist were taken in badly lit gay bars in London:

Half 'n' half hair, which you can maybe just make out.

Half ‘n’ half hair, which you can maybe just make out.

After a solid year of mainly tying my hair back and ignoring how terrible it looked (thanks, friends, for not telling me about colour-stripping products), I ended up with soft, golden tresses. Sometimes, still, I’ll play with my hair and marvel how little like straw it feels.

At least I did, until I started swimming.

It took me less than a week to realize I NEEDED to buy a cap, and I now wet my hair under the shower before putting in on and hitting the pool (I don’t know why, but I always did this when I was on a swim team, and do it without thinking – there might be a reason, there might not). I have even had to go back to using conditioner, which I haven’t bothered using since my hair grew out, because it made it too oily. And still – my hair smells chloriney (after double washing), all day, and feels course and brittle. Fabulous.

2. Some people obviously do not understand what ‘Fast Lane’ means.

Before I sound like a complete dick, I am not saying I belong in the fast lane in every pool.  I don’t.  But the pool I usually use?  The 20m pool that has retired men and women using underwater weights or walking lengths?  I belong in the fast lane of that pool.

What doesn’t belong in the fast lane of that pool?  Pretty much 90% of the people I see using it, which means the people that should be using it are pushed into the slower lane, or the ‘Gen-Pop’ section, where they inevitably become tangled in someone else’s legs/get squished to the wall/give up and relax in the steam room.

The other week there was a guy who got into the fast line and started crab walking from side to side.  Crab walking.  Allow me to illustrate via crappy Paint drawing:

PoolstorybroThis is simply not fast lane appropriate.  Neither is not using tumble turns if you’re swimming crawl.  Neither is adjusting your string bikini whilst chatting to your friend in the jacuzzi.

3. Lane etiquette is not always adhered to.

Thankfully, The pool is rarely filled to capacity, and there are usually only 2 people per lane, during which time there is an unspoken rule that you take half a lane each and stay out of each other’s way.  Perfect.  Apart from when some lady decides to indulge in the most bizarre interpretation of breaststroke I have ever witnessed.  I need to employ my bitchin’ Paint skills once more to fully illustrate the leg position.  What even is this??

crazy breaststroke ladyYou do not need to have had swimming lessons to know that this is not correct.  I was kicked several times during my session with the frog lady, and thankfully a space in the actual fast lane became available during my last kilometer, so I was able to avoid a minor concussion.

On the one occasion I have made it to the Aquatics Centre for a swim it was much busier.  Generally people stuck to an appropriate lane (slow, medium, or fast), and I jumped into a medium lane to crack out 45 minutes or so.  I could see the swimmers in the fast lane next to me would clearly be on my feet the whole time if I switched lanes, but I was still overtaking someone in my lane every 2 lengths or so, which was mildly frustrating, but alright since there was generally enough room.  Then, when I was about 2 seconds from the wall, a guy who had been resting at the wall for the past couple of minutes chose to push off right in front of me and break into a freaking breaststroke.  It’s a good thing people can’t hear my swearing underwater, because I was not impressed.  It was like a tractor pulling out in front of a normal car on a single lane road when they could have waited for one more moment and THEN taken off.

Swimming road rage is definitely a thing.

Injured runners forced to the pool – what is your beef with swimming?


If you’re expecting to read about a dramatic comeback with tales of my recent running adventures, prepare to be disappointed. But not as disappointed as I am.

My right knee shows few signs of progress despite my previous belief that throwing all of my money at professionals would solve all of my problems. Although it is still believed to be ITB syndrome, it’s taking its sweet time to get any better. So what have I been doing?

Swimming. Basically a whole lot of swimming. I have (so far) had to pull out of Loch Ness and Amsterdam marathon, as well as the Glen Ogle ultramarathon, and I can say with some conviction I will not be running in Pisa in a month’s time. In a lackluster attempt to make swimming less boring/give myself something to aim for, I signed up for the Aspire Channel Swim (I know, shameless, right?), with a goal of ‘swimming the channel’ – covering 22 miles in a swimming pool – by the end of November. Yes, you get a medal for completing the challenge, and yes that is 80% responsible for getting me to sign up. Having started late, I’m at 34 miles and counting. Fun fact: swimming lengths in a 20 meter pool is B-O-R-I-N-G.

I did manage to swim my first 5k this week, though, in 1:44:00, which ain’t too shabby, I guess, since I was just chugging along after work. If my knee ever sorts itself out and I can compete in the Ironman next July, my training for the 3.8k swim is well ahead of schedule.

What’s not ahead of schedule? Everything else in my life. Running has involved a pain-free 5k, an OK 2.5 mile jog in the rain, and then a 3.5 mile run with Ian that ended in my knee feeling like it was going to snap in two. This was over the course of 2 entire weeks, so clearly, no giant leaps and bounds. By setting off my knee again, cycling has taken a bit of a back seat as well, so spin class happens 1-2 times a week. Other than that, it’s rest, stretching, foam rolling, and physio exercises. The fact that I don’t drive and currently walk 3-5 miles a day probably isn’t providing adequate rest either, but what can you do? I am also still not into my flat, as it turns out things take a lot longer than I had anticipated.  Want to know how I feel about this?  Google ‘McKayla Maroney face’.  That pretty much sums it up.

I suppose the one running-related piece of information I am happy about (provided I can actually ever run again) is the fact that after half-heartedly entering the ballot for Berlin next year, I actually got in! Me! The person who has entered the London ballot a gajillion times and opened the door to a patronizing magazine 6 times (and counting)! So here’s hoping this knee bullshit is over by then, and my hair no longer stinks of chlorine every day.

And the one non-running-related piece of information that has brightened my week?  I became an Aunt!