Today I swam 3,175 metres in 167 minutes. That’s 1.14 km per hr or 0.62 knots. An improvement, but still slow. I swam slowly, but continuously the whole time, stopping only once to adjust my mask strap when the pressure on my upper lip became uncomfortable.
At this speed my goal of swimming 5 kilometres is still a way off. Not because I can’t do it, but because of the time it will take. Today at the end I did not stop because I was tired, or even uncomfortable. I stopped only because I was hungry. So hungry in fact I got the low blood sugar shakes, and had to go buy an ice cream and a cappuccino at the pool shop. I must have a better breakfast if I’m going for a marathon swim.
I have found the perfect accessory to help me get along while swimming a long time. When I went to Solomon Islands in 1984, I bought at the duty-free on the way out of Auckland a new-fangled Sony Walkman Sport cassette player and was delighted to learn it was waterproof. So back then I used to go snorkelling with it. There is nothing more delightful than the slightly surreal sensation of swimming over a gorgeous coral reef, surrounded by colourful fish, while listening to Beethoven, Mozart, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, and all my other favourite classical and classic rock music.
The Walkman cost me $300, which was a lot, back then. Of course it is long gone. It is the only possession of mine that has been stolen twice. It was recovered the first time, but not the second. Obviously.
I wondered what the modern equivalent MP3 player might be like. I Googled, and found a lot to choose from on line in a range of prices from the sublime to the ridiculous. I finally chose one I thought the most suitable for my purpose. It cost less than I would pay for a pack of cigarettes, if I still bought them. With free postage.
That is how I these days justify buying these little extravagances; by converting them to cigarette equivalents. I only just the other day found out how much fags cost these days. A frightening amount. Enough for me to rationalise a treat now and then. A restaurant meal costs less than a pack of fags here in Australia.
But I digress.
I like this player, apart from the price, because it has 8 Gb memory, which can store many hours of music, and because it fits around my neck like a Celtic torque. I did not want one that clipped to my mask strap, or to my swimming togs. I did not want long dangly leads to get tangled. Nor did I want wireless earbuds to lose.
It arrived three days after I ordered it from Amazon. I charged it and filled it with my favourite music. Much the same stuff I was listening to back in the 1980s (Despite modern tech, my musical development was pretty much arrested in the eighties – With some exceptions) but instead of playing cassettes which can’t be changed while swimming, it is now all digital and downloaded to my computer. Enough for many hours of swimming without getting tired of the selection.
Today, Thursday, is the first day I have swam this week. My shoulders and back were aching on Sunday so I gave the pool a miss that day. I slept most of the day, awoke out of sorts and found myself sleepless all night. The black dog visited and for the next three days I diverted myself from my existential problems by snoozing or binge watching assorted movies and TV series on Netflix, ABC and SBS on demand. I only left the caravan to visit the toilet and shower block.
On Sunday, in a mood, I deleted my Facebook page. I joined Facebook in 2009 to stay in touch with family and old friends. It no longer serves that purpose. The news and posts are mostly depressing, and I find myself either reinforcing, or being reinforced by others who have similar opinions to myself, or getting into pointless arguments with those who don’t. mostly, however, I have concluded social media is not good for me. And reading that sentence I have just realised I am still uncomfortable putting “is” after a plural.
Media. Data. Criteria. But again, I digress.
I stayed home four days, leaving the caravan only to visit the ablution block for the conveniences and showers. I did not go shopping, so I ran out of fresh vegetables. I turned to comfort food, finishing off the last of the less healthy food choices I still had in the pantry. Pasta, cheese, packet meals, frozen hash browns. I undid some of my positive achievements and gained a couple of kilos.
Time to get back on track. To get back on the bicycle and back into the pool. And back to healthy vegetables. Today after my swim I pedalled to Aldi and filled my little trailer with onions, carrots, green and salad vegetables, fruit and tomatoes.
After my three day withdrawal period, I am quite over Facebook, and have turned my attention to other ways of passing the time. Books. Kindle, world cinema, British TV, and those model boats I started on over a year ago. I may perhaps even turn more back to my blogs.
I spotted some beautiful parakeets while riding the bike home. Now the weather is improving I might start carrying the camera and taking a few photos. I’ve already found a couple of locations I can get to by bicycle where I can settle comfortably and wait for a photo opportunity. That’s always a good way to pass the time when I’m not swimming. I may even try extending my walking time.
“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality”
— Clifton Fadiman