Thursday, March 22, 2012

Swimming in soup - a lesson in gratitude

My beloved Johnson Centre pool is closed for maintenance this week, just as I'm tapering for Around the Bay on Sunday! On Tuesday night, Tanker and I went down to the Dolson Centre (the only other recreation centre in town with a pool) for our regular swim.

My usual haunt.

Now, since the massive renovations completed in 2010, the Johnson Centre's geothermal system keeps the pool at a steady 83f. This is my standard swimming temperature, since I'm there 4 days per week. Most swimmers will tell you that's too warm, but it's familiar and I don't mind it.

Renovations in progress. The pool was closed the whole summer!

I've always been annoyed by the Dolson Centre: the pool uses a salt-chlorine mix that tastes terrible when it gets in your mouth, and while it does provide a bit of extra buoyancy that's coupled with increased hydrodynamic drag. They don't have a hot tub, either, and only have the "push the button for 45sec of super high pressure tepid water in some kind of abstract star pattern" showers. I won't comment on the fact it's a 25 metre pool instead of the Johnson Centre's 25 yard pool; I don't mind switching from scy to scm, though I my first couple of lengths are usually spent figuring out whether I take one additional stroke or two. I swim in metres at the YMCA pool, too, and it doesn't bother me at all.

Not pictured: me nearly splitting my head open.

Tuesday night, though, I had an additional complaint - the damned pool was sitting at 88f! Between the salt and the heat, I could swear I was being treated as the ingredient in some kind of horrible, sweaty stew. Nonetheless, I set off for a warmup 100...and nearly died.

As I mentioned in this thread on Slowtwitch, I barely even made it through 100 metres. I tried again, with the same result. I wasn't even trying to swim fast; just a relaxed warmup, and I was struggling! The water felt thick, my arms felt weak, and I just couldn't get a good rhythm going. I asked Tanker how he was doing, and he said the same thing; the heat of the water just sapped all of your energy and left you gasping. To add insult to injury, there was a masters class full of true fish in the other half of the pool, all smokin' along like I had an anchor tied to my ass!

Knowing that I'm trying not to expend too much energy while tapering, I switched to 50's. I did some drills. I took lots of rest. I swam a bit of fly. I just couldn't get going, though. After 34mins I'd flailed through a grand total of 750m, and pulled the plug. Even hitting the sauna afterwards didn't feel as sickly warm as the pool; it was almost like swimming where someone had just peed, all the time.

Unfortunately, it's the only game in town for my swim tonight. I can hope that the water is a more reasonable temperature, but I don't have any options if it's not. My stupid adductor/groin injury has been bothering me a bit this week so a swim is the only workout I plan to do tonight. Looks like it'll be swimmer soup for dinner!

Not your typical fear-inspiring sight.

Fortunately, there is a swim on Saturday morning at the YMCA (and no lane swim Saturday at Dolson), so I only have to put up with stroking through hot brine once more - I'll have to get up on my only sleep-in day of the week to do so, but I'd still rather lose a bit of sleep than be subjected to a stewing. I really never thought I'd see the day when I look forward to swimming at the Y, with its "swirlpool" that smells like childhood incontinence and firehose-with-no-temperature-adjustment showers. I can't wait until Tuesday, when I get to return to the cool embrace of the Johnson Centre's waters!

An unlikely haven.

While I often complain about the hot tub being closed (usually once a week or more), and it sometimes gets crowded or closed due to a fouling, I should be grateful for a pool at a bright, clean and well-maintained facility that doesn't cave to the high-temperature demands of the AquaFit ladies, and that has a schedule with which I can swim four times per week. The Johnson Centre may not be perfect, but it's a damn sight better than the other pools in town, and it's home! 

1 comment:

  1. Joy! The pool was a little cooler on Thursday, and I was actually able to put in a solid swim. If only a guard hadn't whacked me in the head with a lane rope (while dumping it in the water) as I was 5 lengths into a 200 interval, I'd have no complaints at all..


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