Thursday, 10 November 2011

The silence of the parakeets

In the spirit of cross training/cold water therapy, I've just been for a quick dip in the Ladies' Pond. It's been over 2 weeks since my last swim. 2 temperature-dropping weeks.

For the first time ever, I nearly abandoned ship. Climbing down the steps into the water was painful. It was utterly freezing. And the pond even looked different. A gang of ducks circled menacingly. There was an eerie absence of birdsong... With a grimace, I flopped into the water on the silent proviso I would swim to the nearest buoy and then get the hell out of Dodge.

It emerged that I couldn't swim to the end of the pond (had I wanted to, which I didn't) as it's been split in two with a rope - a winter safety precaution, I guess. And a wise one too. I truly thought my heart was going to explode. This was a lovely complement to the muscle-wrenching icy cramp that was travelling along my arms and legs. Part of me wanted to get out. Most of me, in fact. But mindful of the psychological battle that the marathon will pose, I decided to stay in a little longer. At least until I acclimatized (or lost consciousness). Thankfully the former occurred before the lifeguards had to fish me out. Backstroke seemed to help. It relieved the pressure on my chest so I could breathe more regularly. And, as that settled, I could relax and enjoy the swim.

Which I did. For a good 5 minutes. And then I got out. I'm fond of my fingers and toes and would prefer not to lose any through carelessness or hypothermia.

That said, even on a mini-swim, the restorative powers of the pond remain undiminished. My sore leg, stiff foot and bad knees eased (I'm such an old lady) and I felt like I'd had a good massage. It's difficult not to become messianic about outdoor swimming. And it's educational too. In the changing room, I had a nice chat with the other swimmers, who informed me of the thermo-benefits of newspaper under foot: "Tramps don't sleep under newspapers for nothing," one lady asserted. Very good point.

Just before heading off, I took a quick look at the temperature board, convinced that it had to be as low as 10 degrees celsius, if not less.

Apparently not.

It was 11.5 degrees celsius. Exactly the same as when I swam 2 weeks ago. Disappointing.

(Pic: The edge of the meadow at the pond and a rose bush that is clearly hardier than me.)

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