I got a bit over enthusiastic in the pool today.
Generally I do a mile – 64 lengths. I’ve always enjoyed swimming, and used to be pretty passionate about hitting the pool, but then real life got in the way and I realised that a bit more balance was required. So now I have a bash at it when it fits in with life, rather than the other way around. I’m hardly Michael Phelps (now, that would be worrying) but I like to think I’m not too shabby. And today, there were a couple of people in the pool just faster than me. Which is great, because it makes me work harder to keep up. It’s also bloody annoying when I can’t catch them, but you can’t have everything.
Around length 22 I got a bit bored. I couldn’t even alternate between different strokes as due to lifeguard training we were in a narrow lane, with one guy going soooooo slooooooooowly that he would have been quicker to get out and walk. I stuck to breaststroke to reduce the likelihood of accidents. Also, I can only do one length at a time of front crawl before I start to sink.
But then the fast people got out, and I was only left with Slow Man, and the feeling of achievement gained by lapping someone soon fades away when you’re doing it every four lengths.
So I started to imagine what it would be like if I was swimming in the Olympics.
In my mind, I was in some kind of long distance swim event. Mark Foster and Clare Balding were commentating. There were banners poolside with my name on, and I’d been on Radio 2 doing an interview with Chris Evans in the morning being all British and modest about my swimming ability. My mum had invested in waterproof mascara, and I’d met Will and Kate the other day and talked about shoes.
I realised that I was going to get my best ever time if I could just keep going, keep the pace up. And I started to go for it. I pushed myself, lapping Slow Man quicker than ever. I was also getting seriously flipping knackered, but I remembered what Phelps said last night – he was tired and kept going – and pushed on through. People were tweeting in about my efforts. The crowd was roaring, and I was going for gold.
Mark and Clare were on the edges of their seats, talking about skill and determination and how it would feel to stand on the middle podium. To my left, the USA was on my left toe, and France on my right. They would have to battle it out for Silver and Bronze, they couldn’t catch me, it was too much of an effort. Sharron Davies reapplied her lippy and got ready for my interview.
With one final pull, I reached the end. Touched the pool edge, tore my goggles off, and panting like a demon, turned to the clock.
And then I realised my effort had been a bit misguided – I hadn’t done the maths correctly. I was actually three minutes slower than my personal best. THREE. I felt like Eric the Eel in Syndey.
But Mark Foster thought I was ‘gliding elegantly through the water’. That’ll do me.