Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Richele the swimmer (the paradox)

par·a·dox [pair-uh-ducks] - noun
1.a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
2.a self-contradictory and false proposition.
3.any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.


At 4:45 am on most Tuesday and Thursday mornings, you will find me in a battle of will against myself.  Whereas sane human beings are happily cozied away under their duvets, you will find me (at times unsuccessfully) willing myself out of my warm bed to immerse myself in cold, chlorinated water for 90 minutes.

I seriously envy my dog on those mornings, as he sighs in frustration that I dare stir at such an ungodly hour.  

My love-hate relationship (well, to be fair, mostly a hate-hate relationship) with swimming began at an early age, possibly somewhere around the time that my dad failed to catch me at the bottom of a kids slide on an Okanagan beach.  How ironic.  And no matter how many so-called swimming lessons or days at the lake I was forced to spend as a kid, dry land has always been more my thing.  Thus, 35 years spent avoiding contact with water at all costs.

Come to think of it, the only thing I can really ever remember hating more than swimming as a child was waking up early....  

So there you have it.  The combination of Richele + 4:45am alarm + 90 minutes of chlorinated bliss before 7am?  A paradox by its very terms.  But, alas, there is a third discipline in this sport...so swim it is.  

Not only is this contradiction terribly funny, but so is my complete inability to adapt to either the act of (a) swimming and (b) swimming in the early morning.  One would think that after four years that some adaptation would occur, no? 

Fact:  Swimming is quite possibly THE most frustrating sport to learn and practice as an adult.   Gliding through the water effortlessly?  Ha.  Picture a maimed seal, and you are getting a little closer to my reality.  I can either breathe or kick, but not both. Since these two actions are mutually exclusive in my world, I tend to choose breathing because it keeps me alive.  The act of kicking is simply my method of doing hypoxic drills and a pre-cursor to the "high-chlorine nasal hydration" manouvre, which is a highly advanced method of consuming water primarily through one's nose.  And once you get to the notion of flipturns or butterfly, you've just completely lost me.  I barely passed gymnastics in the third grade.  Add to that thirty-some years of inflexibility, and you don't exactly have a recipe for poise in the water.

Breathe.  No, kick.  No, breathe!
Fact:  None of my swimming inability is due to lack of trying.  In fact, the harder I try, the more I flail, and the slower I go.  Swimming is all about technique, muscle memory and grace - attributes I am seemingly devoid of upon immersing myself in water.  It is a sport where trying less actually yields results.  So odd.

Fact:  There is nothing sexy about goggle eyes or the smell of chlorine emanating from one's pores. Add to that the constant need to shake water from my ears, and it's just not pretty at all.  The one saving grace is that while I may lack the Lochte-esque ripped swimmer's build, I do have a solid grasp of the English language that makes up for my aquatic shortcomings.  Jeah.

Solving complex mathematical problems - 100m at a time.
Fact:  Early morning and I are not friends.  No matter how many times I promise myself that I will go to sleep no later than 9:30 pm in an effort to feel happy and refreshed at the pool, my amnesia concerning 4:45 am wake up calls is unfaltering.  You think humans can be conditioned?  Much in the way that hangovers are miraculously forgotten, I can attest that feeling like complete and utter garbage after having 4 hours sleep on Monday night is in no way recalled a mere two days later.

So why subject myself repetitively to something so frustrating, you ask?  Because not doing it would be a cop out.  Too easy.  I have discovered that although I may never be a mistaken for a Phelps, having a good sense of humor about things I struggle with (aka this whole swimming thing) is really useful in life.  I giggle when the swim coach tells me "200 race pace" or "800 race pace" because I know that moving in a forward direction while immersed in water, even at my one (slow) speed, is a huge life achievement for me.  

Moreover, despite the absolute battle to get to the pool and despite the fact that those ninety minutes pass ever so slowly, I can truthfully say that I have never regretted dragging my butt to the pool.  Yes, it is monotonous and difficult, but I feel like I win every time every time I make it through a swim workout.  Four years ago, I could not swim 25m...today, I swam 4300m.  And whether it is the brisk water or overinhalation of chlorine or simply the sheer joy at being done swimming for another day, by the time I get out of the pool at 7am, without fail, I am quite confident that I can conquer the world.  

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post Richele! You are hilarious (and way too hard on your aquatic skills)!!
    Best of luck at Worlds!