It was my friend Nancy and she was in the other half of the pool. The half where there were only two people in the water and one person on the side of the pool. I had wondered what was happening on the empty side of the pool and was about to find out.
"We're doing a free Masters class!" she announced.
To celebrate the opening of our new aquatic centre, and probably to drum up some business, there was free swimming offered for the entire first week. That meant that I could get free lane swimming in before work and didn't have to buy my new 3-month pass until July 10th.
What I didn't realize was that at the new pool there was going to be a Masters swim program for swimmers who want to work with a coach to improve their stroke, increase their speed and even get ready for competition. What I also didn't realize was that the Masters lessons were free for the first week. Damn.
Luckily the free week included this past Monday (to make up for the Canada Day holiday last Monday) so, on Monday morning, I headed to the pool and met the swim coach. Her name is Christine Arsenault and, less than a year ago, she swam across Lake Ontario. Fifty-four kilometres in 22 hours and 33 minutes.
I'm guessing she knows a thing or two about swimming.
Four people, including yours truly, showed up on Monday morning. A young guy of 18, another guy who looked a little younger than me and a woman. Within a minute she had us all in the pool. Young guy was told to do a 400m warm up. Other guy and other girl were told to do a 200m warmup. Christine asked me how much I swim and I told her that I do 2000m three time a week. I was told to do a 400m warmup.
I did that and then she handed me a pull buoy.
I was told to put it between my legs and then swim 400m just using my arms. "It keeps you from kicking" she said in response to my puzzled look. (I didn't think now was the time to tell her that getting me to kick is the challenge).
After that, I was told to do 200m with the flutter board. Kickkickkickkickkickkickkick...
Then she gathered us around and explained that we were going to work on our speed. Other guy and other girl were told to swim 150m as fast as they could. They would repeat this three times.
Young guy and I were told to swim 200m five times. We had to use the big swim clock on the wall (which I have never paid attention to before) and she wanted me to finish every 200m in under 4 minutes. Fifteen seconds rest and repeat.
Before I started, she said that I had to swim as hard and as fast as I could so it would be a good idea if I kicked. So I launched into the first 200m like a madwoman. Back and forth back and forth four times. "Three minutes and 48 seconds! Awesome" she yelled as I gasped my way to the edge.
The second 200m were a little harder and I finished in 4:09. "You slowed down. Don't slow down. You have to push yourself" she said in the fifteen seconds before she yelled "Go!" again.
I finished the next one in 3:58 and the last one in 4:00 exactly. The last 50 metres she walked up and down the side of the pool waving her arms and yelling at me to go faster.
At the end she asked how I felt. I told her I was out of breath but otherwise ok.
"Then you didn't push hard enough" was the answer I got.
I had two thoughts at that moment: Omigod I love this woman and omigod she's going to kill me.
I was there for an hour and, including warm up and cool down, I swam 2200m. My legs felt tired for the first time ever during a swim and my shoulders definitely got a workout.
Looks like I might be signing up for the Masters group.
The clincher? I got out of the pool and she immediately spotted my infusion site. "Hey, you have an insulin pump?" Yep, that would explain the juice box next to my flip-flops. "I was wondering who brought that." End of discussion. No, you have diabetes are you sure you should be doing this? Just acceptance and a 'see you on Wednesday!'.
- I told someone at work that I did a Masters swim class that morning and they responded with: "Masters? Isn't that for old people?"
- When I went to pick up my prescriptions after work, my pharmacist asked what was new. I told him I started a Masters swim class. "You're doing a Masters in swimming? - good for you!" No, not a Masters in swimming, I'm doing a Masters swim class at the new pool. "Oh, you want to be a lifeguard?"
I think they may need to change the name...