This inspiration generally takes the form of occasionally looking wistfully out the window and imagining myself cresting the ocean like a colossus (a little one).
“You get used to the temperature,” Chantal advised. “You build up resistance.”
Now, I would never call one of my best friends a cold-blooded liar*. However, when Chantal said this, she broke out in a light sweat and stuttered slightly, while simultaneously looking up and slightly to the left instead of making healthy eye contact. She also scratched her nose repeatedly and got unnaturally defensive when I said, “Really?” (Admittedly I was pointing in a manner that could have been construed as aggressive at the time.)
So anyway, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
As the weather has grown increasingly clement, I have been inspired to revivify** my threats to get snappy with a swimming cap.
The sea has looked gorgeous recently, decked out in a dazzling array of shades from kingfisher blue to aquamarine to a shade of green closely reminiscent of nuclear snot – which might not sound that inviting but looks AMAZING. Then, a few days ago, the sun emerged to evaporate any lingering excuses against relaunching my bid to master the sea in a bikini.
My first effort fell short of resounding success – and it’s not as if I was over-extending.
“Just a dip,” I briefed my towel-handler, “to acclimatize myself.”
Although I strode buoyantly into the sea, my confidence faltered when the water reached the crotchline. I spent a good five minutes standing around screaming, while Husband shouted encouragement from the shore (“It can’t be THAT cold!” “What do you need to feel your feet for?” “JED, FETCH NIAMHIE! FETCH IT HERE! GOOD BOY!”).
At least the experience can’t be described as a complete wash-out – if only because that would imply some level of immersion.
The following day, I was determined to make progress. The plan was as follows: get straight in, short and sharp, no splashing about, execute minimum five strokes.
“Face in water?” asked Husband, anxious to establish the project parameters.
“Yep,” I said grimly.
This time there was still screaming, but less of it and more muted; and I swam twenty four strokes (face in water).
The biggest problem – ignoring actually getting into the water in the first place – is a pretty much spontaneous headache when I submerge my face.
Evidently, I don’t have a fat enough head.
I’m not sure how to address that.
However, this morning, I managed sixty strokes AND kicked a crab in the pleopod. At this rate, I’ll be swimming across to Wellington for a light lunch within two months.
* Although the cold-blooded bit potentially explains how Chantal spent six months leading up to her Channel bid training in the North Sea and greater London lidos without succumbing to hypothermia. OR, she may be part-penguin.
** Can you believe ‘revivify’ is a valid word? I KNOW! I can hardly handle such extremes of excitement in one day; it might have to be spread out over the week.