Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Keeping one's head above water

I woke up last Monday to brilliant sunshine. The light striped my bedroom floor, promising warmth and welcome outside. Contemplating what to wear, I found myself excited at the prospect of lace camisoles instead of heavy shirts, of bare legs in strappy heels instead of wool trousers and boots, of vitamin D seeping into bare skin.

This is what spring means, and I rejoiced in its coming.

And then I realised what else spring means: no more camouflage. A winter of carbs and sloth have taken their toll, and action must be taken. So I dug out my swimming costume from the bottom of the drawer and set forth.

This has been going quite well, so far. I’ve made it to the pool a few times, remembered how much I like to swim, and started to build a routine. In the water, my total lack of hand-eye coordination doesn’t seem to matter, which is a major plus. I swim for half an hour or so, and walk back to work feeling peaceful and refreshed.

Until today. Today was neither peaceful nor refreshing. But the doctors tell me my eyesight will be restored just as soon as the PTSD improves.

The pool I go to has four lanes, labelled Slow, Medium, Fast, [Very] Fast. When I get there at around 11.30am, there are two people in each of the middle lanes (Medium and Fast), one bloke in Slow and no-one in Very Fast. Now, I’m coming back to swimming after a year or so away, and so I’m not fast by anyone’s estimation. But once you get more than two people in any lane it becomes too crowded for comfort, so Medium is out. The guy in the Slow lane is walking up and down the pool, stopping halfway to do stretching exercises, and occasionally just floating on his back. He's also obese, and therefore taking up a lot of space. So Slow is out as well.

I hop into the Very Fast lane. This affords me about five minutes of total freedom in which I manage a few respectable laps. But I’m out of shape, and already I’m slowing down a little. This, of course, is when another girl joins my lane.

And she is fast. Like, turbo-powered. I manage to speed up for one or two laps in order to avoid shaming myself completely, but the effort takes far too much out of me. I start swimming one lap as fast as I can manage, stopping at the end to let her catch up and overtake me, and then swim another.

Even with the rests I'm slowing badly. This is getting embarrassing, but I don’t want to leave the pool, so I’m keeping an eye on the other lanes in the hopes that a slower one empties.

Finally! Slow Guy heaves himself out of the pool and walks towards his towel, behind my lane. I wait a minute to check that he’s leaving and not just grabbing equipment before moving; I don’t want to find myself in the Slow lane with a guy in floaties. In my peripheral vision it looks like he’s just winding a towel around his waist, but it’s taking a surprisingly long time. When, a few minutes later, he has neither headed back into the pool or out to the locker rooms, I turn around to check the situation.

This is a mistake.

For some reason he’s decided to change under his towel instead of head to the relative privacy of the locker room. It’s a large towel, and he’s evidently done this before, so anyone looking into the room from the street would see nothing untoward.

I am not on the street. I am in the pool. Below him. From where I stand, in the shallow end, I am therefore looking up and under his towel. And I’ve caught him in that delicate moment between dropping his swim shorts and pulling on underwear.


I look away immediately, blushing. Fast Girl is still pounding up and down the lane, giving me increasingly annoyed looks as she comes past, because I haven’t been swimming for a while now. I figure that at least Slow Guy’s definitely clearing out, and therefore I can steal his lane.

Except that to lever myself out of this lane I have to turn around again. And I don’t want to do that.

I really, really don’t want to do that.

So I take a deep breath and plunge into a new lap. It’s surprising what emotional scarring can do for one’s speed.


Blogger kt said...


17 August, 2006  
Blogger tanya said...

Post traumatic stress disorder.

18 August, 2006  

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