Friday, March 10, 2006

Mein paani mein shira, phir poha, phir dubya

A few years ago, I had learnt to swim a bit, but as soon as I resumed swimming here, I realised, how bad I was at it. I couldn't float for more than 10 feet, I didn't know how to breathe, my limb movements were extremely awkward. I was trying free style and it's difficult to get your breathing in sync (inhaling for just a split second) when your head is sideways for a split second. All in all, I was struggling.

However, over a period of time, it has improved considerably. I am stretching my arms well, kicking just at right intervals. The breathing is still not adequate and rhythmic and I struggle after about 25 meters (middle of the pool) because of the lack of breath. So much of swimming is counter-intuitive and you constantly have to unlearn/ignore your natural instincts. Fortunately, there are good folk, who having mercy on my violently splashing soul and give me some good advice. Earlier I was so uncomfortable with my head under water, that I would constantly stop and press my eyes to allow all the water to drip off. Seeing this, a guy said (almost barked),"Well, there's no chlorine. You can keep your eyes open in water, you know". That was a revelation. Because, I always swam with my eyes closed. And since my right arm was stronger, I would inadvertently set off across lanes. You can certainly keep your eyes open in water - though its all a blur for me coz of myopic vision.

Another lesson was how and when to get your head out for breathing (sideways and at every third stroke). I haven't managed this well as yet, but the funda is there. I also now know how to drop the head back in, without getting a stinging sensation up your nose and without giving your ears a waterful.

Meanwhile, have also learnt the breast stroke, which is supposed to be easiet. One just has to look at the old ladies, just gliding in pool, chatting away. All the time their heads are out of the water. Whereas I do, the technically correct, but more tiring and right now more exhausting version of the stroke - dunk your head in, kick your legs out in a V, spread your hands and get your head out to breathe. It's easier than free-style, because you can breathe all the time, but still, its been an extremely arduous exercise for me.

Yesterday, decided to go to the deep end of the pool (about 8 feet deep). As always, stopped mid-way of the pool. Took a gulp of air, made a resolve and took off with the breast stroke. It's scary when you know you may not reach the other end. So, was struggling to find the edge. After what seemed to be long time, reached the end of the pool. The deep end. You just have a hollow along the wall to hold on to, nothing to else to steady your legs on, though. All life had drained off my limbs, just thinking of the fact that I won't be able to make it back to the middle of the pool (where the feet touch the bottom of the pool). Still, I steeled my mind and pushed off the wall. Soon, I was sinking. This triggers a response to flail about more wildly. I was just doing that. And sinking further. I was not going to be able to make it and reached towards the lane rope. Fortunately, it was close (as I swim next to it) and I grabbed onto it. I had just swum for 10 meters. I gulped in as much air I could, and hanging onto the rope, moved towards the other 15 meters or so. It was an ordeal.

As I can't see well, I don't know if the rest of the swimmers were smirking and shaking their heads in ridicule.

Tomorrow I will try again.
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