I don't recall that we discussed how many laps we'd do this afternoon. Yesterday it was only 22 and the previous few days we sat on 34. 40 laps is a kilometre.
Thomo wasn't keen again today. The water was fine around 27 C but he'd been sitting around since 7 am and only had two people turn up. And they only came because the Dungog pool is closed for the season. Thomo's a bit more generous hearted and is staying open for a couple of Learn to Swim kids and a couple of other kids who are still keen enough to do squad training after school.
I rustled him up to get changed. The pool is closing at the end of next week and we don't have that many sessions remaining. After next week it's a drive to Raymond Terrace to use the heated pool if we want some exercise.
While he's changing I dive in at the deep end. It's cool at 27 but not bitter like the Ocean Baths mid Winter when they are 15 C. The initial shock dissipates and with a slow stroke I'm at the shallow end. Rather than stand around waiting for him another two slow methodical laps are executed practicing breathing from both sides and trying to keep the head down and parallel to the pool floor. Remembering to kick at the same time (blokes have trouble walking and chewing) and lifting the hands high and over (Alex Popov technique). And reaching out stretching in front as far as possible. Pulling firmly all the way back. The objective is to train the body to maintain the same rhythm. Under race conditions it's easy to lose the balance and lose speed.
Ok I'm back to the start position. Thomo says "Something different today. 3 sets of 100 metres, completing one every 2 minutes 30 seconds." "OK" I say. What else could I say? We don't do 100's very often.
"On the red nought" he says. That is the big 60 second timer above the pump room door. We have about 30 seconds and then we're off. Thomo streaks ahead. I don't know why, we have plenty of time and a lot of laps to do and he isn't a distance swimmer I am (but slow). Poor call I think. We finish the first 100 in 2 minutes and have a 30 second rest and kick off for another. Same result, he's keen but we both finish within a few seconds. Final 100 and he's slowed down a bit we keep pace with each other but on the last lap he kicks out a bit further and then increases his lead. I'm looking at his heels after 10 metres and start pulling harder then double the stroke rate. He's not expecting this and I burst ahead and touch the wall just in front. He stands up and grins at me. "I didn't think you had that in you" It's the first time I've ever beat him. Tactics count. It helps that he's a sprinter and I'm not.
"OK" says Thomo "we'll do four 50's on 1.15 starting on the blue nought". We have a nearly a minute's more rest before kicking off. This time he's watching me and on the eight lap there's no chance of beating him. We always try to race the last lap just to make it interesting.
Next up is 10 laps on 40 seconds. Pretty easy as this is a standard sequence and the regular breaks are all you need to refresh. We only take 30 seconds to do each lap so that's 10 seconds of rest each time. From somewhere I pull out some energy. I'm pulling hard but not thrashing and the legs are kicking well. The subconscious has taken over. Something that happens occasionally if you do enough training laps. The last lap is sub 25 seconds and we touch at the end together. Thomo is surprised. "where'd you get that from?"
Now I notice that the water feels really pleasant. My skin is hot to touch out of the water, the blood is pumping and the metabolism is working hard.
Just to relax the muscles we do six laps on 45 seconds. This is unbelievably slow. It still only takes 30 seconds to swim the lap and the 15 second wait is really long.
Now that we've rested he announces the coup de grace. "Three laps on 30 seconds". The reason for three is that it is too easy to take it slow on the last lap when doing two. You might think this is straight forward but remember the rest time is now almost nil. This is the killer routine for me. The first lap is fine, I'm trying to pace myself and finish in just over 25 seconds. A few seconds break and back into it. The second lap is slower and there is barely enough time to turn around. The last lap is hopeless. I've lost all co-ordination, barely getting a clear mouth of air the legs and arms aren't in time and there is no energy. I manage a little spurt in the last 5 metres and just get in on 30 seconds. No chance of sprinting this time. The objective is reached. Swim until you can't anymore and you know you've reached the limit.
After the heart starts pumping again and breathing is back to near normal we finish with one lap on 45. Just a slow trawl through the water to wind down.
So that is 40 laps or one kilometre. Will sleep well tonight.