Swimming Lesson #11

After an awful lot of weeks off, I went back to Swish today to start another set of lessons. As always, starting again is more challenging than you think: you’re confronted by the fact that you’re not as good as you imagine you are.

But this is at least an opportunity to improve.
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Not Swimming Lesson #1

Tonight I didn’t go swimming, and I was still so tired that I fell asleep on Destroyer’s bed before she did, which suggests that maybe it’s not swimming that knackers me out, it’s Thursdays. That’s aggravating because I don’t reasonably expect to improve at Thursdays, so all those lessons may be for naught, but it’s consoling insofar as it explains why I’m tired after every single swimming lesson.

I’m not swimming this week (or the next) because I only paid for ten lessons, and this week and next week I’m frantically busy or out of the country, so this pause to take stock makes a lot of sense. But the marathon training schedule marches on, and so only after I’d dragged myself out of Destroyer’s bedroom, and wasted most of the evening watching videos on YouTube or Netflix, did I finally get changed into my running gear and headed out.

It wasn’t a wonderful run; 2km down to the foot of Mount Faber, and 2km back, but it was at an even pace and I wasn’t reduced to terrifying weeping at the end of it, like I was in March. So there’s that to say for it.

It wasn’t a very good day for training though; lots of rushing about (two client meetings, both 500 yards from my house, but interspersed with returns to the office which meant I’d walked 12,000 steps today before I even contemplated ‘proper’ exercise. Then there was the can of Coke I shouldn’t have drunk, the quesadilla for lunch that keep threatening to repeat on me during my run (surely the statute of limitation for lunch shouldn’t allow for gastric distress almost ten hours after you’ve eaten the thing?) the ill-advised ice cream mid afternoon… Once again, I think I’ll put on weight while training for this marathon, which doesn’t suggest the best dietary plans.

Oh, it’s all muscle I’m adding. Honest. Stomach muscle.

Now, though, I smell of rotting apples. So at least my sweat is healthy. I hope.


This morning, still crapulent from last night’s gin and stinking mightily, I took a taxi over to a friend’s condo in the East Coast. We were going to have a game of tennis; he’d played a game last year and I’d last played for an hour in Malaysia in 2015, and since then my tennis racquet’s grip has rotted into a mass of black mould, so we weren’t exactly well prepared.

Yesterday I stripped the grip from my racquet and replaced it with a roll of grip tape that I’d used for my bike’s handlebars. This seemed like a decent solution but it didn’t stick very well, and was already coming loose this morning. The other racquet we had was also furry, a victim of Singapore’s climate.

We played on a court in the full view of the sun for an hour and a half. I wore a hat that was soaked through with sweat and my hand was a limo fish after clenching the racquet for that time, and my feet were sore from rushing here and there on hard ground.

Afterwards, at least I’d sweated off most of the black mould. I took a bus home and lay on the sofa for half an hour, legs weak and heart feeble, until my wife came back with the kids. At least I was better off than yesterday, when I spent the whole day floored until I got some booze in me.

Swimming Lesson #10

Today was my tenth swimming lesson at Swish; it gives me pause to think how I’ve progressed from being incapable of submerging my face, to being quite happy as I slowly sink towards the bottom of the pool as I empty my lungs. Well, it is peaceful down there.

Today we concentrated mostly on my breaststroke kick, which I still have a lot of work to do on. Key from this week: I need to arch my back, and my feet should form an inverted V, heels at the apex, before I kick out. And, and I’m struggling with this the most, it’s not just a kick out and back: at max extension, your feet have to slap back against one another or else you don’t generate any thrust. Not so much a kick out, as a kick in a circle.

I’m a little sad that I felt I knew what I was doing a few weeks ago, and now I’m more conscious that I don’t, but learning isn’t a straight line. I’m moving from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent, and though you have to get through that before you reach conscious competence, bridging the gap between the first two phases is the part that’s perilous for your ego.

Meanwhile, my freestyle needs adjustment. Simple to fix: when I pull my arm back and breathe, I need to keep pulling my arm back, and look backwards, not just up. More complex: my stroke is quite wooden. I pull with one arm. Then I pause. Then I pull with the other one. That’s a consequence of being taught not to just thrash – get one arm back in front before moving the other. But to do it smoothly there needs to be a subtle change in timing, so I start one arm’s stroke just before the other finishes. And subtlety and me are strange bedfellows.

And I have my first swimming injury- I bent back my little toe on my left foot while my coach was holding my feet to help me with my kick. Damn you, breaststroke.

Swimming Lesson #9

Today was a pleasant, sunny day, although I didn’t have a very good breakfast (heavy on croissants, light on good quality protein) and I was probably still knackered from yesterday, so I was far too susceptible to snacking. But the good news what that it didn’t rain, so there was no struggle getting a car to the swimming pool today.

When I got there, they had some kind of device like an aquatic vacuum cleaner inside the pool, for some young urchin had defecated in the water, so they were having to clean it. Fortunately, they have the indoor pool as well, and that’s where I went today.

Most of today we focussed on breaststroke again. With my freestyle right now it’s a series of smaller tweaks – things like doing a higher ratio of kicks to strokes – rather than the major remedial work on breaststroke.

I’m struggling with the kick. I think it’s several things -I don’t kick out wide enough, there’s not a dynamic enough whipping motion at the end to bring my feet together, I’m not kicking with my heels – but so many different ways to do it wrong mean I’m very inconsistent. I’ll get one good kick in, then multiple ineffectual ones. Plus it’s not quite symmetrical and so I start to veer off in one direction or another.

The arms should allow me to correct for that, but if I try that, I forget how to breathe. Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another, but I have to remind myself that less than three months ago I couldn’t get my head underwater. Everything is going in the right direction.

I also seemed to have very poor lung capacity today, or I couldn’t get from one end of the pool to the other. Perhaps I was tired and so more feeble, so I was taking longer and so my time underwater was the same, but I felt half as good as usual. Maybe I should have drunk more water. Or something. Or something.

And so, the long weekend approaches. Maybe I’ll get Destroyer to teach me instead.