Now I know for some of you reading this you’re going to be surprised but… Karen and I are actually taking our swimming pretty seriously these days! Yes we still giggle and we certainly still natter, and we keep cheery whatever the weather, but we do really enjoy swimming. What started out as the dipping dare has transformed into a way of life and a desire to improve swimming technique. We now swim further, head down and with a genuine commitment. There is still time for Fiona-ing before we get out but we’re beginning to feel a whole lot better about moving through the water. We may have genuinely improved too, as they say in Toy Story – “That wasn’t flying. That was falling with style.” and now we’re beginning to fly.
Focusing on physical technique has inevitably led somehow to buying more kit. Although I frequently joke with passers by at the beach that sea swimming is free, like so many activities you start to wonder about the paraphernalia sold under the banner of your chosen sport. Before you know it you’re searching swimming and triathlon sites for hats and gloves, for goggles and floats, and of course you need a bag and…
Karen and I have obviously got our orange flowery hats which both act to mark us out in the water (especially in the busier summer months) as well as making us stand out generally! However, these were not suitable for when we’ve been swim training in the pool and so we’ve also invested in some of the dreaded silicone hats. I say dreaded as we can all remember how the rubber versions from our school days snapped on the forehead and grabbed at any possible rogue hairs whilst smelling strongly of industrial rubber. Thankfully today’s silicone versions aren’t quite so snappy and certainly don’t have an odour. Naturally we invested in more orange hats, this time from the Zone 3 range. They work well enough to keep our hair in control and hopefully a little chlorine off our locks but we will need to upgrade for better protection.
Next up are goggles. Well, I’m embarrassed to say but I have sent quite a number of pairs of swim goggles through the washing machine, thrown in on a rinse cycle with swimsuit and gloves. I must admit that they have survived although the added scratches and buffing does little to improve the visibility whether swimming in clear water or sandy saline. I’ve recently invested in a slightly more expensive set of Swans goggles with the hope that their higher value will increase my incentive to look after them better. So far so good but the washing machine does keep eyeing them up as I throw things into it’s gaping mouth post swim. What doesn’t change much no matter how much more I’ve spent is the problem of fogging.
Fogging goggles seems to be an endless problem for many and there are varying solutions – although I’m yet to find one that works well. ‘Everyday Athlete’ Rachel Andrews has some pointers that you might find useful here in one of her YouTube films. But the basic fact of the matter is that Karen and I are often swimming with limited visibility after a bit of exertion, not helped by Karen’s need to wear glasses usually. Two women swimming with limited vision and varying steering success at full pelt…what could possibly go wrong?
I have now added to the sensory deprivation issue by wearing earplugs. I’d found that I was getting a little dizzy after longer swims and after several excuses and total gin denial, it struck me finally that it was probably something to do with my ears. After purchasing some neon coloured Arena earplugs I’m now feeling back to normal – although to be fair I’m really not sure that the colour matters? However I am now shouting at Karen whilst swimming and saying “what?” a lot. I’ve also bought some soft silicone ear plugs with I’m yet to try as the first feel so successful and easy to use, but I may give them a go.
Lastly, and by no means least, Karen has been trying the use of a snorkel. In an aim to better concentrate on the physical stroke, the turning and swivelling, she has been using the snorkel so as not to be distracted by breathing movements. We’ve discussed the pros and cons much, but it isn’t something that’s been used very often so not too many bad habits will get stored. It does however mean that Karen is unable to talk once she’s manoeuvred it into place and she can be head fully down for metres before coming up to speak. But we’re definitely swimming longer distances and feeling really good doing so.
We realise that with the current set up of snorkel, earplugs and misted goggles we have in fact created our own version of the Three Wise Monkeys … not great for social swimming but definitely aiding our practise and as the proverb suggests, maybe helping us not to dwell on evil thoughts! Ha ha!