I've recently started swimming again. I used to do a lot of swimming, but haven't done so much at all over the past few years, partly because of the old lungs, but it's also just slipped by the wayside. Anyway, for the past three weeks I've been at least three times each week and I've been really enjoying it. I love that feeling of gliding through the water and with every stroke having your troubles washed away. My mind empties. I focus on my stroke; the kick of my legs; the scoop of my hands through the water; the feel of my muscles working inside my body as they push through the water outside my body. I think briefly about the things that bother me, but for the most part my mind is concentrated on the number of the length that I'm currently swimming, and this is great for emptying the mind and being absorbed in the moment instead of being absorbed in troubles or difficulties.
As I said, I used to swim a lot (I swam for the city as a teenager, before my lungs got too bad and unpredictable), and because of this I tend to swim length after length after length when I go. Unfortunately I sometimes forget that I can't do what I was once able to, so I push myself beyond what I should, but then I'm also determined to make the most of what I can do when I can do it, which is probably why I continue to push myself despite knowing that I ought not to push too hard. Anyway, because of my previous swimming training, and because of this 'make the most of it' attitude and pushing myself, I only feel like I've done any swimming if I do at least half a mile (32 lengths in a standard pool). This is okay, and doesn't usually cause too many problems in the old breathing department. Quite often though I'll get to thinking that if I've done half a mile then I may as well do the rest of the mile. Fine, I used to do that no problem, and mostly I can still do this if my lungs are behaving themselves reasonably. For some reason though, in the past week I've started doing two miles at a time, which, if some of my friends read this and discover, is liable to get me slapped around the face with a wet fish! This really is pushing my luck, but if/when my lungs let me do this it feels really good. Sometimes when I'm in the water I just feel like I could go on forever - it takes me to a different state of mind ... almost meditative. Of course, sitting here in the evening after a two mile swim in the afternoon I certainly feel like I've done some exercise, and I may do in the morning as well, though I did two miles at the pool last Wednesday and Thursday too without feeling too stiff, so maybe I'll get fitter and I'll hardly notice that my muscles have been put through their paces. Don't get me wrong, I don't go off at a sprinting pace - I couldn't these days, though I did used to be able to (oh, how things change). No, I take it steadily and take as much time as I need. I blank out everyone around me, even when I'm aware of others pacing themselves against me, and I ignore the clock, which is helped by the fact that I don't wear my glasses in the pool and so can barely see that there is a clock, let alone what time it is ;oP
Having contacted the paragliding company several times about the possibility of doing a sponsored paraglide to raise money for my resp ward, and having not heard anything back from them at all, I'm getting a little disheartened. I'm wondering now if in the meantime I think about doing a swim marathon to raise money. The idea isn't to do the whole distance in one go (it'd take too long for starters), but over the course of a month, according to places that I've seen this kind of thing suggested before. To be honest, I could probably do it in two to two and a half weeks, but that would be pushing it so if I gave myself a month (or four weeks) that may be more realistic and would allow for a certain amount of lung-splattage. Obviously, if my lungs had a real strop and I ended up in hospital I'd have to put it on hold, or start again, but I'd work out a contingency plan for this situation. I haven't made any firm decisions yet - it's still in the idea-forming stage of things - but I so want to do something to raise money for my respiratory ward as they do so much for me, and have done for years. This seems like a reasonable idea, and perhaps wouldn't scare my friends, family and doctors quite so much as a paraglide ... though I still fully intend to do one when/if I eventually manage to get a response from AirVentures. In the meantime, and whilst I make up my mind about the swimming marathon, I'll consider myself to be in training ... or something.