Tuesday 1 January 2013

Catch Up on 2012

Big style fail on bingeing both on the swimming and blogging front. The Binge challenge for this year was to swim on average a mile a day, but in typical Binge style this aspiration crashed and burned and I’ve failed to maintain any semblance of consistency in my swimming. 

Despite a promising start (I was well on track until Riccione) having completed 244,000 metres by the middle of June but since then I’ve only added a further feeble 15,000 metres.

As if this failing challenge wasn’t sad enough, the year came to a close with one of my favourite swimming pools under a very serious threat of closure. The City Pool in Newcastle is a fabulous building, (although badly in need of some tender love and care.) Set in the heart of the city it provides a great facility for students, office workers, the occasional Binge session and of course it is the spiritual home of the City of Newcastle swimming club.  It’s an inspirational venue and I never tire of reading the names on the flags hanging in the spectator balcony showing how far a field club members have competed on the international swimming stage.

I paid what might be my last visit there in November when I received one of those dreaded telephone calls, begging me to come and officiate at the club’s annual Shrimp meet. Now some time in the dim and distant past; and for a reason that completely escapes me, I qualified as a swimming referee. I will confess now that I absolutely hate loath and despise officiating and I would rather stick pins in my eyes, but the caller sounded so desperate I felt I couldn’t turn them down.

The following Sunday I found myself patrolling the poolside watching some of the most elaborate variations of what might arguably be recognised as a swimming stroke being performed with the enthusiasm and confidence only 9 year olds can produce. The only thought which kept me going through an interminable session was that during the lunch break I might just sneak a swim with the Masters group.

Sadly, with impeccable timing the session ended 10 minutes after the Masters left the small pool, but catching a coach putting a session on the white board I discovered that the University swim club were due in at 1pm. I lurked around the pool and was rewarded at 1.05pm with my first sighting of a swimming student, (this was a Sunday after all). I approached him, explained my predicament and asked if I could join in.

I have to say there was a mix of confusion and incredulity on his face as he somewhat sceptically weighed up this ancient and rather large specimen requesting to join them. The clincher was my suggestion that it might warrant a mention in “Swimming Times”; Aahh the persuasive power of the press, as the promise of fame elicited a rather non committal “I suppose so”. 

Taking this as a green light, I changed and wandered down to the end of the pool. I was keen to try and slot in to the slowest lane and try and hang off the back. I politely stood at the end of the lane whilst the three swimmers in it chatted and discussed who was going where.

Realising there was a reluctance to actually start the session (with a 1000 yard warm up I wasn’t surprised) and also that the lane next to them was empty and concerned that I only had an hour before I needed to be back for the final round of tortuous officiating, I slipped into the empty lane and set off on my own. I had to work fairly hard; as not only was this the first session I’d swum for weeks but I felt I needed to demonstrate to the students that I was a swimmer (if only a lapsed one). 

After about 800 yards I had company; and displaying my slightly earnest and bossy characteristics I stopped him after he’d done 200 warm up and suggested we just get on with the main set. He readily agreed and I led off, with my companion (who I christened Mr Tumnus because of his wispy student beard and faun like frame) drafting off the back.

There was some judicious pruning of the repeat times to make the set manageable, and sensing  that Mr Tumnus was a much more accomplished medley swimmer than me I made him lead that section of the session. After about an hour I had to leave, and as I thanked Michael for his company, he commented that it had been a baptism of fire as he hadn’t swum since August!  

I left the pool enthused and encouraged by the camaraderie of shared endeavour but saddened that this might have been my very last swim in such an iconic venue. You can sign the Petition to keep the City Pool open on the “Save Newcastle City Pool” facebook page.  

Warm up 1000 yds
5 x 100  free @ 1.40
200 swim down
5 x 100 free @ 1.40 
200 swim down
5 x 100 free @ 1.40
200 swim down
4 x 100 IM @ 1.50
200 swim down
3700 yds
3400 metres

No comments:

Post a Comment