In the slightly modified words of Kylie Minogue: 'I'm swimming around, move out of my way....can you feel it ‘cos I like it like this, I'm breaking it down...' Perhaps it's easiest just to end it there because I don't really know what the hell she's singing about in that song past those few words.
Summer is approaching and the weather in Adelaide is now mostly at a balmy 25C most days, so my mate Jill and I have decided to go swimming together once a week. After we've dropped off our respective kids at school and kindergarten, I collect Milly the dog and my swimming bag and we head over to Jill’s place. Milly is joyfully reunited with her furry friend Coco the brown-and-black Labrador and is last seen as a little orange streak of light as they immediately start a game of canine chasey around the trampoline and lemon tree.
Feeling pleased that our pets will be getting a workout whilst we swim, we two humans drive over to the Burnside pool. It's nearly 9:30am and the breeze is still pretty cool. We self-consciously strip down to our racing bathers by the edge of the pool - which 'medium' lane to use today? The fast lane is way out of our league - full of impressively swift athletes who'd be likely to yank your ankle and pull you down to the bottom if you messed up their rhythm or times. They all seem to be ex-Olympians who’ve had babies or young physio students who take their fitness very seriously.
The adjoining medium lane is actually two - 'the double doofus' lane as we refer to it. This is the lane that contains all those slow time-wasters that us regular freestylers hate. These include any annoying breastrokers, backstrokers, kick boarders, water walkers and the sad folk who are still trying to master their flippers, nose pegs and/or hand paddles. These dwellers in the double doofus lane are more my physical type – would like to be fit; are trying to be fit yet are still addicted to chocolate, DVD-watching and have accepted that elasticated tracksuit pants are permissable as suitable clothing.
The second medium lane is just for freestyler swimmers and it is in here that we take the plunge. Oooherrr, no matter how many times I've done it, when that cool water hits the boobs and the goolies, it still makes me squeal. Jill's off like a shot, ploughing relentlessly through the water like a strong and graceful automaton. I thrash along behind her with my goggles already half-full of water and a long wobbly line of phlegm swinging from my nose. Luckily for me, we’re the only inhabitants of this lane, so I’m glad to be behind Jill and not treat her to the sight of my sloshing goggles, snotty face and gasping, fish-like mouth.
Unfortunately for me, there is no 'slow' lane for freestylers in this pool unless I want to sink to the depths (pun intended) of the 'Aqua play' lane. This seems to be the watery real estate owned by the seventy-somethings for whom any sort of movement in the water is akin to a hard workout. The gentlemen wear every bit of aqua gear available to them and end up resembling multi-coloured condoms and the ladies try their best to keep their heads out of the water altogether in order to preserve their perms. They seem to occasionally permit younger people in their domain, but these folk are usually obese and can get by through flotation skills alone, not unlike that of a snickers bar being plopped into the water.
All of the above random musings run through my mind as I determinedly thrash on. Lap four, four, four - heaven help me if I touch the blessed end of the pool and I can't remember what lap number I was on! Forty is the goal and the first ten are the hardest. It is in these first few laps that my brain wins the battle against my extremely reluctant brawn: 'Oh it's soooo cold in here today', 'I feel so tired. How am I going to make it?', ‘I can hardly breathe because that old guy in the doofus double lane splashed a wave into my mouth.’ ‘Goddamn these bloody &^%$ing bathers, I hate getting a wedgie when I'm only 3m into a 50 metre lap - what if I end up with some bizarre kind of butt crack rash?'
On lap 11, my protesting old body gets used to the physical struggle (and maybe the wedgie) and the surroundings don't seem to matter as much. At least, not the ones on top of the pool. Those underneath the water are still cause for concern. Orphaned bandaids, gum leaves, sticks...... Yuck - a long black hair has wrapped itself across my goggles.
Lap 20….don’t forget it's 20, remember you're on lap 20. Halfway there, it's all downhill from now on. My brain goes a tad crazy: downhill swimming - now there's an event I'd like to see at the Melbourne Commonwealth games next year! Now you're on lap 30, that's right: 30, nearly finished lap 30…… by this stage the doofuses have gone and their lanes have been taken over by primary school kids. It’s so lovely to discover that one kid is staring as me underwater with his face mask as I heave myself along. Did he notice the wedgie? He must have done because now seven of the school’s year 4 boys are surveying me underwater. Lap 33, yes 33, almost to the end of lap 33, now 34……
Finally it’s lap 40 and I touch the end dramatically as though I’ve won a gold medal. Now for the worst bit – heaving myself out of the pool without using the steps because I don’t want the primary school perves to get another look as I tread water straight past them. My arms are shaking as I take three attempts to lift myself out of the water. The fourth attempt does the trick, but my right thigh is grazed on the tiles which also increases the magnitude of my wedgie to almost obscene proportions. Judging by the sniggers of the kids a walrus could have done a more elegant job.
Ah, never mind - there's a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee with my name on it at the canteen after I've showered and changed.