How not to swim (Iain)

Last week I attended a coached swim session. It was great. It’s much more enjoyable swimming with others than doing so by myself.

The only problem is:

  • Triathletes lie about their ability.
  • Triathletes are really competitive

I discovered this when the coach said: “I’d like you all to swim eight lengths (200m) of the pool at 70% race pace. I’ll time you. Who wants to go first?”

No one volunteered to go first.

“Come on! Who’s fastest?”

Everyone started looking at each other in the same way a lift of strangers look at each other after one person has farted. Who is it?

I looked at the man next to me. He was solid muscle. His back had the classic v-profile of an Olympic swimmer. He wore tiny Speedos that were so small and revealing they looked like they’d been tattoo’d to his crotch. His swim goggles cost more than my last car.

“Hurry up! Someone has to go first!”

The only time I’ve been mistaken for a swimmer was when a hairdresser said to me “Are you a swimmer?” I beamed with pride and replied “yes” thinking it was because of my swimmers physique – but my pride was quickly punctured when the hairdresser said “I thought so – I looked at your hair. It’s in terrible condition. It’s dry from chlorine.”

My swim shorts are run shorts. There’s no point buying one pair for running and one for swimming and it means my run shorts get a wash. My goggles are whatever I can find in the lost and of found bucket of my local pool. I am not a swimmer.

He looked at me again. It wasn’t that he was in a different league to me. It was that we aren’t even playing the same sport.

He said: “you first, mate”

I replied, “no thanks. You should definitely go first.”

He thought about it and said, “no – I think your quicker.”

So I went first. I had a five second head start. On the sixth second, he caught up.

I went as fast as I could but he kept having to stop to wait for me.

After we’d finished eight laps the coach said, “are you all happy with your time?”

The man who couldn’t have been more like a fish even if he’d had gills said, “I could have gone faster but I got help up!” Maybe if you hadn’t lied about your ability you wouldn’t have got held up. If you’re good at something it’s ok to say your good at it.

I then looked round and saw everyone else. It was like the scene at the start of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies were strewn in the water. People screaming in agony. One man looked like he’d swum himself into a heart attack.

The coach asked “Was that 70% effort?” No-one replied. They were all completely f&%ked!

At last the man having the heart attack said through wheezy, definitely non competitive, gasps of death “I think I went 65%!”

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