Archive for May 14, 2008

Sink or Swim

It’s second semester, which means swimming time for freshman. For a quarter and a half, my PE class has enjoyed being landlubbers. Now it’s time for us to get our feet wet.

Yesterday was the first day in the water. However, we were caught in a rather early June gloom, when it was overcast for nearly a week with the thermostat dropping to as low 63 degrees Fahrenheit. But my teacher was still flipping to go swimming, dressed in a windbreaker, pants, and his usual wide brim straw-hat and sunglasses. Meanwhile, the rest of us shivered, barely protected from the freezing temperatures. And we weren’t even in the water yet.

As soon as we were in the pool area, we scrambled up the bleachers, trying to get away from the feared water, only to jump up with surprise as our butts touched the cold metal of the benches. With nowhere run and nowhere to sit, we could only stand around, pathetically clutching our shoulders.

Following a painstakingly long roll call, it was time to hit the water.

Somebody had claimed that the water was heated. Well, maybe when hell freezes over it will be. We immediately crouched as low as we could go without submerging our heads, trying to keep away from the icy grip of the atmosphere and fighting for possession of the slightly warm water jets.

The first thing we did was walk around the edge of the pool. This was known as a Whirlpool Warm-up. At first, it felt like Bigfoot Rapids from Knott’s. We were basically drifting around rather quickly, although it felt that at any moment, we might suddenly speed up and go plunging down a waterfall. I prepared my most amusing facial expression to wear when the camera would flash our picture, but it never came. I only noticed the current we were creating when we had to swim in the other direction.

It was quite the experience. It was like, no, it was, swimming upcurrent in a river. Now I know why they call it a Whirlpool Warm-up.

Afterwards, we did a few laps using various styles. I don’t know why they teach us all these different styles. Breaststroke is the best and most efficient. You don’t splash, you can keep your head above the water, and you can swim underwater using it. I also discovered that my swim trunks were looser than they seemed on land and that I couldn’t swim too fast for fear of them sliding off. That wouldn’t be nice.

The suffering didn’t end at the pool, though. After shivering our way back to the lockers, we hit the showers. No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the shower hit us. Standing in front of the innocent looking shower head, we pushed the button. Instantly, freezing cold water slapped us across the face at Mach 2. There are few things that would make scrawny grown men like us scream, but this was one of them.

All things considered however, our class was pretty lucky. We were swimming during the hottest time of the year (provided California weather stuck with the laws of physics), and we only had to swim on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On the other hand, there is that problem of sunburn…

Note: Never leave anything wet in the locker. I should have known better, but I found that out the hard way. Apparently, the infernal things known as sandals don’t dry out all that fast.

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May 14, 2008 at 3:49 AM 1 comment


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