Monday, 1 November 2010

HOCl and the sweet smell of total body fatigue

Sixty-one days. That's how long it has been since I was last in the water with the express intent of doing something other than bobbing.
I distinctly remember the last time. It was late August. there were several thousand of my closest fellow masochists waiting to go from Point A to Point A  trying to stretch it into a 3.8km hour-plus sojourn in Lake Okanagan.

Now I have been in the water once or thrice since then, but that didn't really count as I also spent some time in a eucalyptus steam room, and that negates any actual attempt at exertion.

It has been a full two months. And on the first of November, I made my triumphant return to my favourite pool, the pool that has so much HOCL that it is used as a remedy for athlete's foot and a host of other conditions that I try not to dwell upon.

I have always maintained that swimming is not so much a sport, as it is a means of not drowning. It is one of the few public activities where there are actually people employed to sit around and, occasionally, save your drowning ass if you have a momentary lapse of understanding that lungs and fluid don't mix.

Sure, there are medics and other people with bandages at races and rides for those who fall, or have a pre-existing condition catch up with them. But in a pool, or on some swanky beaches there are folks out there to actually pluck you out of the water.

It is that sense of risk and danger that keeps some people away from the pool. Others it is the fear of how they look in a Speedo, or worse, how others look in a Speedo. The Mediterranean vacations of my past notwithstanding, I chose this day to return to the pool and, not one bit ignorant of the religious undertones, re-mmerse myself into a ritual that, for four years has punctuated my lunch hours.

To say it was a triumphant return, is a bit of an overstatement. Had I bellyflopped off the high platform and then completed 1000m using a one-armed butterfly stroke, then I could have bragged.

But no, I meandered to the free lane, avoiding puddles on deck, as I had forgotten to pack my pool sandles. I wear these more to deal with the "gross factor" of stepping in warm liquid of unknown providence, rather than out of a genuine concern for hygiene - see HOCL above.

Having found my place in the slow lane. I observed several other swimmers swimming clockwise circles and a walker bouncing to and fro and looking quite determined to splash as much water as possible.

I wasn't in any rush. I was back in my element. I had long ago conquered my fear of this aqueous substance, and somewhat overcame the embarrassment of the follicular overabundance everywhere, but on my palms.  I licked my goggles - an anti-fogging trick first used in this country by fur traders and gold rush prospectors, I believe. I stretched on my swim cap, put on the goggles and gingerly lowered myself into the 18c degree water.

And with a kick off the bulkhead, so began yet another season of the striving for a dull, happy fatigue created by swimming and that no other excercise can mimic.

Typing these words now I am surrounded by a subtle, but pervasive bouquet of Chlorine. And I know at last, as Frankenfurter once said. I'm going home.


  1. Gah, the swimming training always made me go Gah! Good for you that you enjoy it so much, and I totally get the dull happy fatigue. That IS unique to swimming!

    I really enjoyed your life/run analogy comment on my blog, so true so true! It took me about 35 years to get life "right" and it's only taken me about 4 years with running, so there's that!

    My quads? Weren't really thrashed too bad, though the day after I walked like I suffered from cerebral palsy, and the next day wasn't too much better. Stairs? I could go up, but DOWN was a very slow affair. Anyhow, by day three I was fully recovered with just ome lingering soreness. I plan on going out for a little run today, day four, and think I'll be back in business!

    As always, thanks for your nice comments!

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