up and down

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16/02/2016 by Carl Reynolds


The beauty of the sea is it’s apparent limitlessness. A swimmer cannot swim all the seas; although Martin Strel might. But being a natural thing; affected by human activity, but not quite yet ruined by it; the sea is part of an interlocking planetary system (see Gaia Theory, first postulated by James Lovelock), and is therefore subject to cooling and warming according to its position around the sun and your relative longitude and latitude. In simpler words, sometimes its warm around here and sometimes it ain’t. At the moment it ain’t. Roughly 9C. Air temperature is currently 7C and the wind makes it feel less.

Now I know a few women and men that can swim for a few miles at 9C. I used to be one of them, but I have since lost a fair bit of insulation and the determination, madness or desire to immerse myself in cold water for so long. But, and it’s a big but, I still have to get in the sea to keep acclimatised to cold water, and to enjoy the buzz, but I can’t do more than about 20 minutes at the moment without being a wobbling wreck. So to get some training in (aiming for 300+K by mid-July) I have to go up and down and round and round in the warm, chlorinated, Torbay Leisure Centre 33.3m pool. A pool with a number of limitations.

Number 1 – it’s too warm. My observation is that it’s mostly just over 29C. Given energy costs and the need for more chemicals at higher temperatures, you’d have thought that they’d turn it down a degree or two, in the name of energy efficiency and public health. But I also live in a Tory controlled council, so they could always trot out the current lie that there’s a need for cost cutting.

Number 2 – you have to turn! In the sea you don’t have to so much – only at the moment when you realise that to get back you’d better go back.

Number 3 – there is no up and down, no chop, no swell, no waves. These are fun. And I miss them. The large bow wave created by the head-up breaststroker in the next lane is no substitute.

Number 4 – on the odd occasion, there are too many people in the lanes and, regardless of the high degree of lane etiquette displayed in Torbay, they just get in the way. And I only go at lunchtime. I made the mistake of going one morning…never again.

Number 5 – hard looking, tattooed, muscle men have nothing on the potential fear inspired by imaginary and real wildlife in the sea. Although, to be fair, I’ve only been stung by jellies in the Med and have never been bumped or nibbled by a seal. And, despite swimming in one of their UK habitats, have not been chomped by an orca. Although I have seen basking sharks and minke whales up close and personal. The shapes of Torbay cannot compete.

But I still, perversely, love it. 40 minutes in January seemed a slog, 75 minutes now is a delight.


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