I've been starting to learn to swim. It's hilarious. It's also rather enjoyable.
A few weeks ago on a Wednesday evening after work I nervously turned up at EveryoneActive SeymourLeisure Centre. I've not had a swimming lesson since about 25 years ago and I think I can count on my hands the amount of times I've swum since then. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I've got no skills and well, we all know where my heart lies when it comes to sport. So, newly purchased goggles in hand I turned up to the edge of the pool totally unsure of what to expect.
There were only two of us in the lesson and when I arrived Raf, the teacher was just finishing teaching a group of energetic kids who were merrily throwing themselves (aka diving) into the pool. Oh to have that lack of self-consciousness!
Raf teaches from out of the pool but he is very good at explaining things. First of all he chatted to me about my current ability and then got me to do one length each of the pool in what I would have called front crawl and breaststroke. Then he gave me a swimming cap. I was asking him how to put it on and he said if I didn't mind we could do it the fun way... see below!
Swimming cap on, I learned:
1.How to breath every 3rd stroke.
2.How to put my arms into the water into a swooping motion
3.How to position my head
...and then trying to get better at that with tweaks being made each time. I came away feeling like I'd gone from clueless to something vaguely decent just in one lesson and really looking forward to getting back in the pool. One of my friends is a swim teacher and says that runners only ever learn to swim for two reasons a) in case they get injured or b) to do triathlons. I fell into the first category but I think I'm already seeing the joy of the sport in its own right. I can't see it ever replacing a run in the fresh air but there's something about the challenge of nailing a technique that is rather enticing.
I'll fill you in on lessons 2 and 3 in another post, but safe to say that I'm a lot better at front crawl that I am at breaststroke.
Other general thoughts:
Raf is one of the most cheerful and positive people I've ever met. He's unwaveringly encouraging without being patronising. He picks out something to change or improve but also highlights the ways you've improved.
As for the leisure centre - in the area where I grew up leisure centres were usually hot, slightly tired places with fairly disinterested staff and a canteen selling "grits" and bright blue slushy puppies. At Seymour Leisure Centre everyone I met, from the front desk to the ever present cleaners in the changing rooms was incredibly polite and actually looked like they were happy.
Seymour Leisure Centre has a climbing wall, 100+ station gym, sports hall, exercise studio as well as the 30m pool. it's really close to Baker Street too so perfect for me to go to before or after work.
In the interests of fairness I have to say that the other lady in my lesson has had ongoing problems with the payment of her lessons. About a month's worth were apparently cancelled and she is still trying to get her money back. It seems that the issue co-incided with a management change. I don't have any experience of this as EveryoneActive very kindly allowed me to take part for free. I would imagine that it's all ok now that the ownership of the centre is settled in its new form but I can only repeat what I have been told.