Me, an empty pool and an empty mind. It was a pretty perfect combination!
I work Saturday's - and from April it will be Sunday's too - which is fine but not exactly ideal. When I'm free during the weekday afternoons my friends are in work and when they're free during the weekends, I'm in work. It also makes weekends away to see family or friends quite difficult. Not impossible. Just inconvenient because I have to wait for the school holidays - luckily half terms are quite regular - before I can flee the city for a much needed break (the all consuming nature of London can sometimes get a little too much).
But Saturday is the busiest day for me as a swimming teacher. I started last summer by working 10am - 1pm and over the months my teaching hours have slowly grown - although quicker than expected - so that on Saturday just gone I worked 10am - 4pm, by far my longest days work. A whole six hours. That's nearly enough to be considered a full days work!
As well as teaching as much as I can, I'm also currently trying to swim as regularly as I can - I swam three times last week - I'm aiming for at least four times a week and seeing that I'm working at the pool four times a week - six times a week from April - that shouldn't really be too much of a problem. That said however, I do have to pick my swimming times carefully and there are certain times that I avoid like peas or CHEESE!
Monday evening is one such time to avoid. If I don't swim before my shift on a Monday, then I don't swim. That's because I finish at 7pm on a Monday, by far the busiest time of the week (everyone is seemingly trying to make up for the weekend, where they have been inactive and/or drank and ate too much). The pool is crazy busy at this time. Way too busy to swim. With up to 6 or more people in each lane. It is almost impossible to swim and I'm not intentionally putting myself through that. That's why I try to get to the pool before my shift in the early afternoon, when the pool is nice and quiet (not necessarily something I succeed at as much as I would like to).
Saturday afternoon is normally another time that I try to avoid. It's not as chocker blocker - now there's a phrase nobody uses anymore. Why is that? Let's bring it back! - as a Monday evening but it's still one to avoid. Well except it normally is!
However, this Saturday when I finished teaching at 4pm, something magical happened. Something that happens a lot less than you might think that it does. The pool was completely empty! In all the time that I have been working and swimming at the pool - around 18months - I have only ever swam in an empty pool on a maximum of 3 or 4 times. So Saturday was special.
And the thing was that I didn't want to swim on Saturday. I wasn't planning on swimming and so I wasn't in the right frame of mind. I was cold and tired and I just wanted to go home and eat and sleep. But how could I resist? As I stood there and gazed upon the beauty of the empty swimming pool, I just knew I had to swim. So I went to get my googles etc and then stood staring at the glistening water - listen to me going on. It's a 25m swimming pool in the basement of a London gym, not the mediterranean sea haha - for 5 mins while I completed my stretches and still it remained empty. It felt great - apart from the coldness - lowering myself into that tranquil pool and pushing off from the wall, surrounded by water. I do love swimming under the water!
As I got into my swim - I just did a quick 64 lengths (1600m or 1 mile) - other losers joined me in the pool. However, I had the whole lane to myself for the entirety of my swim which was nice. And it was a pretty good swim too. I soon forgot about the peacefulness of being in the water and started to punish myself haha. When I do 64 lengths, I warm up and cool down with 4 lengths breaststroke and 2 x 4 lengths backstroke. In between I do the serious swimming. 4 x 10 lengths front crawl (with a pull buoy).
My aim for these 4 sets of front crawl is to do each of them in under 4mins. Something that I am - or at least was this time last year - more than capable of. However, after a pretty inactive three months - November, December, January - when I did start swimming regularly again a few weeks ago, this was definitely something of a challenge again. A challenge that the first couple of times I failed miserably. However, I have upped my swimming in recent weeks and improved quite rapidly.
And Saturday was a good swim. Showing considerable improvement from just a few days earlier. Maybe I wanted it more? Or simply wanted to go home more? Who knows, but last Wednesday I did the 4 sets of 250m in: 3min53sec, 4min07sec (not sure what happened there. I must have switched off for some reason), 3min56sec, 3min56sec. Which is pretty good, except for the second set of course. But then on Saturday I did them in: 3min44sec, 3min53sec, 3min51sec, 3min53sec which is a lot closer to where I want to be and a pretty good swim. I got out happy!
So I get out of the pool and it's still really quiet, with only one or two people in there, on what is supposed to a busy time of the week. I don't give it much thought, but then a guy who is about to get into the lane next to me, speaks to me. At least he must have spoken to me because there is no way that I would have spoken first haha. I don't remember what he says - I don't remember that he says anything - but in return I make some remark about how unusually empty the pool is. He replies that it's no surprise because it's 17 degrees outside. & I think but don't ask him "what are you doing in here then?"
I leave the poolside, get showered and changed and make it outside just in time, to watch the last of the afternoon sun fade into the evening. I walk past Angle station and take my time as I stroll up to Highbury and Islington, with bare arms and a smile on my face. It's a lovely evening. My swimming is improving and although the weather won't even last into the next day, Spring is just around the corner.