Updated: Mar 23, 2020
So far my local pool remains open in the face of the global crisis that is Coronavirus. It's a strange thing because I know that many pools and leisure centres are now closed and swimmers are seeking alternative training opportunities in various bodies of water or moving to land based training...
The club I swim with shut down all training and scheduled swim meets in response to the Swim England statement issued earlier this week.... Within that statement there was also guidance to swim schools that they 'should also make an informed decision on future lessons decision based on current information from the Government'. My leisure centre and the centre I work in continue to offer swim school although how many children will turn up later this evening remains to be seen!
Up until Tuesday I was still relatively happy to swim in the pool, I have seen the info about chlorine killing the virus and I go armed with my wipes and tissues, determined to avoid direct contact with all surfaces and people, no matter what - a challenge in itself!
Then I was in touch with some friends and family in Northern Italy. In serious tones and in their best 'do as we say, listen to us' Italian mamma style they tell me in no uncertain terms to take this thing seriously, to stay at home and practice social distancing as much as possible and to heed and learn from their desperately sad and frightening experience.
On Wednesday I stayed at home.... well.... almost. I didn't swim the early lane session but I had to go teach swim school....Of course I arrived to find that my first client had cancelled, although nobody thought to mention that to me. So what did I do with my unexpectedly 'free' half hour... Well, I swam of course, I'm a swimmer with a huge challenge for 2020 which keeps whispering into my ear that I must get back in the water....
Also on Wednesday the powers that be announced all schools would close from the end of the week to all but a few students. I started to see posts on Social Media from health care workers holding signs saying 'I came to work for you, please stay at home for me'. I felt torn. Every sensible part of my head and body knows the time has come to stop and stay away. This horrendous thing is here, now. I have a social responsibility to do my bit. Yet my employer and the local government don't seem to be telling me the same message. So I am caught between will and reason, to swim or not to swim?
On Thursday I swam.... 8k.... because I'm desperate to meet my target for March and I can see my challenge for 2020 slipping rapidly away from me.... in my head it was likely to be the last swim I would manage in the pool. I went home and dug up/sought out a multitude of land based swimming specific exercises. I was ready for the Friday alarm and in my head I wasn't going to the pool again for the forseeable future.
This morning, Jo asked me if I was going swimming.... 'I don't know'..... I got my Pilates ball out, pumped it up and watched anxiously with one eye closed and my hands protecting my face as Jo very bravely offered to test the pressure and the bung. It held and thankfully she didn't go flying across the room in cartoon style, crashing her head into the radiator .... my vision of a blood pool on the bedroom carpet thankfully didn't materialize. And then I went to the pool.
I swam the most mindful swim I've swum for as long as I can remember... It wasn't fast or particularly long. It was a mix of drills, skills, kicking, flippers, floats and a little breath pyramid... it didn't last long and for a change, the lifeguard didn't have to blow his whistle to get me (the last swimmer in the pool, as usual) out at the end of the session. I was ready, I am ready.
I wished him and his colleague well, hoping they stay safe and I padded back to the changing rooms.
On my way out, I stopped to talk to my colleague on reception. She is tired, exhausted, already covering shifts for those who are off sick and self isolating. She tells me about her nightmare day yesterday - an extra long shift with no proper break, and about how there won't be anyone to man reception on Sunday. I thank her for all she is doing for us, I ask if there is anything I can do to help how it is that the pool in a town not to far away is closed and we are still open (it is managed privately... they've decided to shut it down).
I wish her and the DM well and that they stay safe. I say my goodbye knowing that I will not be back at the pool until this crazy time is done. It's hard, it's scary. I know how much I rely on my swimming to keep me fit and sane but it's time. I am ready.