I’ve been back swimming at our local pool for a few weeks now. I’ve noticed that getting there is a race and that this race falls into two parts.
Beating the online rugby scrum to get a swimming slot. This involves frantically checking the website every few minutes 7 days before you want to swim. The moment ‘slots are available’ pops up on your screen, you have to navigate the drop down boxes, enter through a number of screens and then hit confirm. You must do this as fast as humanly possible. Remember that others are doing the same thing at the same time and everyone is after that elusive gold dust – the swimming booking.
This is where the real fun kicks in. I’ve noticed that people disrobe and get in the pool at lightening speed. In fact, I’ve decided that everyone is in this unspoken race. It’s like a reverse triathlon. With this in mind I set off the other day to come first in my age category for this new sport.
First important thing to do is don your costume before you go to the pool. Thankfully its now hot weather so I was able to wear a loose fitting dress over my costume. This has just one tie at the neck so should just fall to the ground at a pinch. Not sure what trick guys would try in this scenario.
I’ve noticed that the other ladies in this competition wear flip flops. I hate these toe slicing evils with a passion so I opted for sandals instead. Its essential to wear something you can throw off your feet quickly. You could waste a minute trying to get out of something with laces.
Before going into the pool I leave my glasses wrapped around the gearstick. I feel smug. I know that will save me a few seconds. I queue up with 8 minutes to go (they let you in with 5 minutes to go). Annoyingly I’m second in the queue to a lady I’ve seen here before. She is fast. She looks a bit like Nancy Reagan and I notice she is wearing loose shorts and a T-shirt. Behind me three more people queue up ready. One guy and two more middle aged ladies wearing flip flops and keen eyes ready to race.
Beep….and we are in. The race is on. Nancy virtually skips in heading for the changing rooms. I walk in behind trying to catch her up as we make our way down the yellow matting.
Once in the changing room, I make one pull on my neck tie and I’m out of my dress. I start shovelling it into my rucksack, feeling pleased I kept it half empty so that I could do this easily. Stepping out of my sandals I spy Nancy out of the corner of my eye. She is ready and about to head for the door already. How did she do that? She throws me a smug look and I know the chase is on.
With one motion I throw my sandals in my bag and pick it up. I head out the door, throwing it over my shoulder as I go.
Stepping out onto the yellow walkway, I speed up and start to catch Nancy. I manage to grab my hat out of my bag and edge past her at the same time. We both arrive at the reception together but I’m in front and the space is only wide enough for one at a time.
“Name please” says the lady behind reception.
I provide my maiden name (I haven’t changed my membership yet) and simultaneously pull on my hat to save time.
Moving away I walk quickly into the swimming pool area whilst still shoving extra bits of hair under my hat as I go.
I can feel Nancy breathing down my neck so start to pick up some speed. I’d love to run over to the pool and dive in but, a) I’m carrying a small rucksack, b) I haven’t dived since I was 12 years old and its the shallow end and c) I still have the kiddy pool to navigate my way around first.
I head swiftly around the children’s pool as I feel Nancy move past on my left shoulder. She chats to me on the way past. Clearly an excuse to pull ahead! As we make the last turn towards the main pool, I see the chairs come into view where we will leave our bags. I make a few quicker steps to pass Nancy again and get there before her. Hah!! Agh what is this? There is a bag on the first chair. I look around my eyes darting about the pool to see the criminal that has beat me so to the first chair. I spy an old guy about to get in the far lane. Ah thats ok, its a guy. I can still be first woman!
I throw my bag down on the second chair and Nancy sweeps past me to the third chair. I’m about to lurch myself towards the lane I need when I realise I’ve forgotten to get my pull buoy and goggles out of my bag! Agh. How could I have been so reckless? I waste valuable seconds unzipping my bag and looking for my much needed items.
In the meantime two more ladies have joined the chair debugging transition area and are readying themselves to get in the pool. All three of them now turn and are heading for the first lane which is nearest. I make a dash for the middle lane, throw my stuff down and launch myself into the water with a splash.
The guy in the furthest lane turns to look and see what the commotion is. He looks for a second somewhat confused and then goes back to his doggy paddle. He clearly isn’t ‘in the game’.
I look to my left and I see Nancy with her feet in the water and the two other ladies standing behind her. They all look at me with their eyes narrowed. They know. They know I beat them at their own game.
I smile, pull down my tinted goggles and push off for my swim.