Swimming, like any other sport, involves seeing the same people time after time. Some say hi. Some wave and look away shyly. Others know my name, call a hearty hello and chit chat for a minute or two before we both pull on swim goggles and begin our essentially silent workouts.
One girl named Mary started off with a shy smile. Then a hello. Now we actually speak in full sentences. We talked on Wednesday about the crazy conditioner routine we both have in an effort to save our hair from the ravages of chlorine. She has the added challenge of trying to keep her platinum blonde hair from turning green. So far I'm happy to report that she's winning that battle.
Anyway, Mary and I swam in adjacent lanes on Wednesday morning. She's a little faster than I am but she takes more breaks so we're constantly passing each other. On one particular length of the pool, we both started at the same time. I figured she'd pass me fairly quickly and I'd catch her again when she stopped.
What I did not expect was to see her head down to the bottom of the pool and begin swimming along the bottom at pretty much the exact pace I was swimming on the surface. I got to watch her since she was below me. It was crazy!
At first I figured she was having fun and going to head to the surface any second. As I waited, I took my usual breath every third stroke. After having taken two and then three breaths, I went from interested to impressed. She was swimming the length of the pool under water! Could she make it to the other side?
I kept swimming and she kept right up to me. I inhaled six times on the way across the pool. She pushed off from the bottom and surfaced at the wall. Twenty-five metres without taking a breath!
I practically shouted "that was awesome!!". She looked casually over and said "oh, you saw that?". Um yeah! And the fact that she said "oh, you saw that?" without sounding like she was going to die was even more impressive.
Guess what my new goal is?
Go on - guess!
Yep, swim across the pool holding my breath.
I explained that goal to Doug and was hard pressed to explain why that was a sensible goal. It's not like I'm trying to improve my stoke, my arm strength or my speed. What's the point of crossing the pool holding your breath other than you can hold your breath longer? I guess if I ever decided to do synchronized swimming it might come in handy.
I tried to explain that it would improve my lung capacity. "Um ok." It will improve my ability to exercise without oxygen. "And when will you be running and holding your breath?" He didn't actually say that but I could tell he was thinking it...
So, not having done any real research into why I should do this, I'm still inspired to try. I did in fact try in the pool that very morning. I was too embarrassed to push off and swim along the bottom because I figured I'd make it about 3 meters before darting for the surface. Plus Mary would know I was trying to copy her which, let's be honest, I totally was but still...
So, I kept up my regular freestyle routine but tried to increase the number of strokes between breaths. I went from three to four and then from four to five. Five felt pretty hard but once I got over the panic that I wasn't breathing enough I learned to slow down the rate of exhalation. That made me feel marginally better because there still seemed to be oxygen in my lungs. As long as there was oxygen coming out I felt ok that there wasn't any going in.
So Friday's goal is six and perhaps even seven strokes between breaths. Not the whole time mind you but enough times that I get one step closer to crossing the pool sans oxygène.
Anyone else having swimming across the pool without inhaling on their bucket list?
Friday morning update: got to the pool at 5:45am. Sat in my car until 6:15. No head lifeguard = no keys to unlock the building. So I drove home.