Updated: Apr 8, 2020
What are you missing most about swimming as we head into week 3 of the Coronavirus UK Lockdown?
It's not as straightforward a question as you might think at first glance! And as to naming the one thing you miss the most.... nigh on impossible! But perhaps some of these are on the list?
The camaraderie....seeing the people who make up my Swimming Family. In the lake, chatting to other early swimmers before, during and after a swim, sharing cake and hot flasks, laughing at the sight of a hot water bottle stuffed down a trouser leg or a dry robe. In a club swim, chatting to team mates and rearranging the reps that coach has set for the reps we're actually going to do, in a public lane swim, chatting to the other regular swimmers and finding out how their gran is this week after her fall.
The routine... the ring of the alarm, pulling on your swimwear in the dark, heading off to the pool armed with your training set, your kit bag and your drinks bottle. Getting in to your usual lane with your fellow dawn swimmers and checking who is doing what so you can all swim your swim without crashing their sets or the 'heads-up breastroke in the fast lane' swimmer.
The extra early 5.30 alarm....ok it's a perfectly ridiculous time to get up so that you can get waterside to see the sun rise and as you creep around the house making toast and filling hot water bottles you wonder why you're not still tucked up snug and warm in bed but..... it all makes sense as you step into the water and feel it envelope you as it welcomes you in and wraps itself around you.
The meditation.... the repetitive and calming breath, the air as it is drawn in and bubbled out. The rhythmic pull pull pull of the strokes, the accompanying kick. Up the pace and the positive mantra kicks in to keep time without the need for a tempo trainer 'this girl can....'
The quiet and calm......The chatter-free space for the brain where for a magically special period of time all thoughts, upsets and worries, nagging memories of 'who said/did what', whats to be done, what's on the list ... all are left behind and forgotten, allowing some respite from their incessant interference in everyday life.
The afterdrop... you're out of the cold water, you've got your wet kit off and your dry layers on fast and furious and you can feel it coming, creeping up on you until it strikes.... you start to shiver and sink into your dry robe and that hot water bottle a little tighter
The smell of chlorine.... who knew?!?! That feint (and sometimes not so feint) smell of chlorine that lingers even 2 showers later and that lets you and your nearest and dearest know where you spent the first hour of your day! And the post swim, lake or Chlorine nose that runs for the rest of the morning so that you have to explain to your clients that you haven't got a cold, you've just been swimming!
Swimming costumes and wet kit hanging about the house... no matter how quickly they dry in the warmth of the utility room or airing cupboard, there are always at least 2 costumes loitering around the house, add a tow float, dry robe and in the cold season there's the wetsuit, boots and gloves and neoprene hat towels and its a veritable obstacle course as you duck and dive around the kit strewn about the house!
The rush, the sense of accomplishment and exhaustion...Especially when you really didn't want to haul yourself out of bed but did it anyway. You entered the cold water at first light and immersed yourself in the beauty of the morning...walking away feeling uplifted and energised, ready to face the day and whatever it may throw at you! Or in the pool, nailing a new skill, completing a long swim, choosing a hard and fast interval set and finding that you smashed it! Your body hurts, your brain is jelly, you want to lie down! But doesn't it feel grand!
Eating more freely.... the cake, the second breakfast, the bacon buttie, the extra helping that you justify without worrying about the calorie count because you just swam 6k
The Social Media share... seeing what everyone is up to, where they are swimming, which sets they did, liking and sharing their fav swim photos and the encouragement to carry on to make sure you hit this week's targets because you know your online Swimming Family will soon be posting theirs!
Whatever it is you're missing most, remember this time will pass and a new 'normal' will come. In the meantime, remember the power of now, establish and enjoy a new routine and the small pleasures, achievements and triumphs of today. Savour the present, for soon this too will be gone.