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So let’s go swimming!

May 16, 2011, 6:09 PM

So… I went swimming today at the Graham S. Little Natatorium, aka Olney Swim Center. I had never been before, so while I had an idea about what to expect from going online, it was still a new experience. For those wondering, the Olney Swim Center is an indoor swimming pool in Olney, Maryland, owned and operated by Montgomery County.

I got there just before 2:30, and, after changing in the locker room, I got in the water right at 2:30, and swam mostly continuously for an hour. I believe that this marks the first time that I’ve done any serious swimming since I quit Rhonda Dossey’s class, and that was twenty years ago! And I certainly got a workout from this, that’s for sure. I started doing the front crawl for a few laps, and then switched to backstroke. I did that for a while, then did the breaststroke for a bit. Then I spent the rest of the time doing the backstroke. I did the backstroke most because when you consider that I’m just getting back into things, I couldn’t quite manage to get the multitasking together to stroke, kick, and breathe doing the front crawl and the breaststroke. So I decided to work on just stroke and kick, and we’ll deal with the breathing in another session. Something tells me I should work on the breathing with a kickboard for a while and then try to put it all together later. It’s okay – don’t want to overdo it, and I don’t have any swim instructor standing on the pool deck yelling at me about my stroke.

There is one other thing that I need to work on, and that’s direction. When I was a kid, I had no problems swimming in a straight line. Tell me where to swim, and I could get there in a straight line. Kind of like this:

Swimming straight  Swimming straight
Hey, I’m not an artist. Besides, doesn’t everyone have a square head, and lack hands and feet?

That’s the idea, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. This was how I ended up going up the pool:

This was how I ended up going up the pool.

Note that collisions with the lane rope on the right side were frequent, and that at times, part of stroke did indeed stray into the next lane, and I inadvertently grazed the swimmer in the next lane on two occasions – my apologies to that swimmer. Didn’t mean to graze them. Then this is how I ended up going back down the pool:

This was how I ended up going down the pool.

Somehow, I still managed to end up across the divider, and running up against the one lane rope. I don’t get it. According to Mom, it means that one side is stroking more strongly than the other, but to end up on the same side against the same lane rope in both directions is kind of strange.

Another thing that I noticed while doing the backstroke at Olney Swim Center is that there is nothing to follow on the ceiling. I was able to find visual markers on the ceiling to correspond to where the pool ends, but for keeping in a straight line, there was nothing along the ceiling going longitudinally that was consistent across the entire length of the pool. So I think that contributed somewhat to my lack of direction as well. When I was doing the front crawl and the breaststroke, you see, I had a little bit better sense of direction, though I still wobbled a bit.

Then after my hour in the lap pool swimming laps, I headed over to the leisure pool and alternated between there and the “hydrotherapy pool” (aka a hot tub) for an hour before getting out, changing, and heading home. Not too shabby for a first time. And now I know where the place is, and so now I have a place that I know I can go exercise on days I can’t walk on account of weather.

Then this sign on the front door was obnoxious:

Notice about an upcoming fire drill at the pool

Normally, I would find this kind of exciting, especially since the Olney Swim Center has a voice evacuation system with mid-1990s Wheelock speaker/strobes, except that there are a few problems here. First of all, I hate surprise fire drills. I didn’t like them as a kid, and I especially don’t like them as an adult. Secondly, the pool’s usage is fully scheduled on a daily basis. Thus standing outside for five or ten minutes for a surprise fire drill disrupts one’s workout (i.e. have to get the heart rate back up, etc.), and, since the pool is fully scheduled, that means I would lose valuable workout time while they conduct their fire drill, because I wouldn’t be able to make it up by extending the workout time. No good. And lastly, you’re dealing with adults here. Don’t play games with the fire alarm system and practice evacuations, especially when I’m paying an admission fee to get into the building, coupled with a fully-scheduled pool. When dealing with adults, if you’re going to have a fire drill, you need to say exactly what day and what time so we can plan accordingly. If the fire alarm goes off randomly, I expect to see (A) smoke, (B) a kid with a guilty expression standing next to a pull station, or (C) an equipment malfunction of some sort.

Thankfully, they didn’t decide to have their surprise fire drill while I was there. I would have been annoyed if that happened. And another plus: I was only there during the fire drill hour because I’m on vacation this week. Normally I would never be there at that time of day. And if I go again this week, I’ll go earlier in the day, during an earlier lap-swim period.

So all in all, I had a good time. I must do this more often.

Web site: About.com: Help for Novice Swimmers and Beginning Swimming Workout Practices

Song: Teacher flash mob during an elementary school fire drill

Quote: Here's another thing I like about this place: It really doesn't matter what you look like in a bathing suit over there. No one else there looked like a model, either, and no one cared. I looked on the bright side - I may have extra body fat filling some areas under my skin, but at least my skin still fits tightly around my chubby little limbs...

Categories: Fire drills, Olney, Swimming