My two most recent swims have not been the most successful. The lido was packed on Sunday. Even at 9am. We thought we'd get up early, and beat the crowd. We could not have imagined the scene that awaited our arrival. There we were, all keen, and wetsuit free. And there was everyone else, sun lotion at the ready and towels aplenty.
The lanes were busy. And lacking in decorum. There was nothing to choose between: The fast lane was slow. The slow lane was treading water. We gave it our best shot. And Charlotte's shot was far more poised than my own. She managed to get in, and get on, finding a rhythm and taking it all in her 'stroke'.
My stroke suffered. I couldn't breathe. I found a like-mind who was equally disappointed (but far more determined than I to get her 2k in, to ensure she didn't regret the wasted journey later in the day when she had a friend's leaving BBQ to attend - and was, one might presume, planning to indulge). We chatted. I observed that it was unlikely the pool was going to get any clearer. It got progressively busier.
Charlotte treated me to our favourite post-swim green beverage and (completely unnecessary but simply delicious) pastry at the Blackbird Cafe. All was once again well in my world. When I walked back past the Lido I was staggered to see the length of the queue which stretched right round the building. South London is serious about making the most of this sunshine.
I took to the water again today. With a little more success. Until the crash.
She was a swimming instructor. Clad in rash vest and bikini bottoms. She had gazed in my direction nonchalantly from where she sat on the poolside chatting with (or maybe that should be up) the lifeguard, watching me clock up 60 or so lengths. Up and down. Down and up. I had been happily sharing a lane with another female aquathlete with whom I had settled into a comfortable yet productive pace. She had since got out.
I stayed in.
Whereupon I was joined by she, who commented on the fact that we had the same paddles. I wasn't using mine at the time, and didn't intend to. They have been useful in the choppy waters of the Lido recently, but aren't essential in the relative calm and tranquillity of the 25m indoor pool.
Shortly after I pushed off, she decided to paddle-up and followed me up the pool whereupon I turned to come back down the other side of the lane (as directed by the signage positioned at either end of the pool, and clearly visible, and presumably well familiar to her by now as an in-house instructor).
There I was, merrily minding my own business, and actually rather enjoying what I anticipated to be the beginning of my penultimate set of 20 lengths and BANG! She had not in fact followed me, but swum on the other side of the lane, straight into me who in naive compliance had simply followed the sign and swum clockwise.
It was a nasty shock, made all the worse by her paddle-clad hands. I was put out, but not put off. I was no longer in the same zone, but all was not lost. I decided to warm down, and finished my swim a little prematurely, but treated myself to extra time in the steam room in lieu of the final 20 lengths.
It's good to know when it's time to get out. Letting off steam is, I have come to realise, done more efficiently on the poolside than in the water.