Reflections in the pool…

Reflecting back on 2016 and my swimming achievements, I can’t help, but feel a sense of pride.

Despite my ongoing heatlh problems and injury, resulting in me having to take a break, from swimming, on no less than 7 occasions, in addition to having my swimming bag stolen, I have been able to achieve so much. This, however is not just down to me, it’s also thanks to the wonderful staff at Swim NE and my swimming teachers/coaches. Thanks also need to be extended to the many people who have supported and encouraged me; friends, colleagues, family and even random strangers.

So, now reflecting back, here is list of what I feel have been my main achievements this year.

Passing ASA level 7, at the beginning of the year, and completing the competencies for level 10, at the end of the year.

Completing all my distance badges to 3000m and all my rainbow 100m distance awards (I bought these, myself).

Finally cracking butterfly, being able to swim 100m butterfly and being able swim a 400m IM.

Completing two “sport relief swimathons” 1.5km in 1h 8 seconds, just days after recovering from a chest infection and, a month later, just after recovering from a further chest infection, swimming 2.5km in 1h 50mins and 28 seconds. In doing so I raised over £200. I handed over, one of my medals and my swim hat, to my nana!

Featuring on a Arthritis Care DVD, showcasing people living arthritis, in a positive way. Arthritis Care, chose to focus on my swimming.

Swimming a 200m IM in less that 7m 30s and a mile in just 57 mins, hardly a recording breaking figure, but significant achievement all the same.

Featuring on an Arthritis Care promotional DVD, show casing people living with arthritis.

Cracking “tumble turns” they look easy, but believe me, they take months of practise to get right. It’s frustating progress.

This isn’t an achievement, as such, but still amusing. When I was in Lanzarote, a cocky bloke went round all the women and asked if they could swim, in an attempt to show them off, that he could and they couldn’t. Before he could get to me, I set off, butterfly first, then front crawl, with a few tumble turns. He sharp shut up and disappeared, which I was happy with as he was loud, obnoxious and drunk!

Having the opportunity to pass, some of what I’ve learnt, on to others. I was approached, at the pool by someone who asked me, how he could improve his front crawl. I’m definitely no expert nor am I swim teacher, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to pass some knowledge on. 

Featuring in the “This Girl can” campaign, appearing both on their FB site and their website. 

Finally, volunteering for the “swim safe project”, I was frequently cold, wet and covered in sand. As a volunteer I was a Gopher and a jack of all trades, volunteers were expected to muck in were needed, but it was great fun. 

I had the pleasure of working with an amazing team, who between them, helped to improve over 700 children and young people improve their knowledge of water safety, which may in turn help save a life one day.

So what of 2017…next year, I will be focusing far less on gaining certificates and so forth and more focused on improving my times and completing a number of swimming challenges, to raise money for a variety of charities, information of which, I will post about in early January. 

Tomorrow, is the day.

After four weeks of waiting, tomorrow is the day I finally plan, hope and intend to get back in the pool. 

I’ve missed swimming, it was particularly torturous when I had my dressing changed on a weekend. The primary care centre was next door to a swimming pool. A swimming pool separated by a glass wall, from its next door neighbour! I was like a kid at Christmas, staring longinly for what I wanted, but couldn’t have. I daren’t stare to long though, lest I get arrested or at least told off, for standing staring. 

So, like a child preparing for his first day back at school, I’m all prepared, my new goggles are packed in my new bag and my costumes and towel, drying. 

I know my fitness level, will be rubbish and I’ve gained weight, but I will, in time regain one and hopefully,  loose the other. The only annoying thing is, that no longer being in possession of my swimwatch, I will no longer be able to judge how efficently I’m swimming!

Tough times and set backs

Sorry for the delay in posting, theres been a lot happening!

The last few weeks have been challenging for me, at times it’s been a roller coater of emotions. As a consequence, no swimming has been completed. 

The 17th November, was the last day I swam and it could still be another week before I head back into the pool. I am missing it so much!

In the few days leading up to the 17th November, I had, had a small spot on the top of my leg. It was mildly uncomfortable, it was rubbing on my clothes, but other than that, I gave it very little thought. 

On the Thursday, the 17th, it was was becoming painful, but it failed to stop me swimming, I had considered not swimming, but then told myself “get a grip woman, it’s just a spot!”. I had a really good swim, completing 100m butterfly and a 400m IM.

I went home and took my usual evening pain relief, paracetamol and codeine, but I didn’t feel well, with little appetite. 

Half an hour later, I became aware that the pain in my leg, was worsening. I decided a hot bath was in order, in the hope that this would encourage it to burst. This failed. 

I realised  something more was wrong, than an “infected spot”. A quick check revealed a lump, that was not only painful, but around inch long and 3/4 inch wide (2.5cm x 1.5cm). It was also a deep purple/black colour. I decided I needed to see my GP in the morning. 

An hour later, the pain was excruciating and “the thing” was getting bigger! even the though I felt that I would be wasting their time, I decided the go to the out of hours medical service, known as the “walk in centre” in the UK.

I hobbled in to the walk in centre at 9.30pm, by this point I was close to tears and was unable to sit. When I was triaged,  I immediately apologised for wasting their time!! However, a quick examination revealed three things: I had an abscess, I may need surgery and finally, I wasn’t wasting their time! I was then transferred to A and E, also know as casualty. 

I waited round a bit, it was like a war zone and I really felt for the staff working there. Eventually, I was called in, to see the doctor, who decided to refer me to a surgeon, despite it bursting on examination, as “it was deep”. It was later to found, thanks to the district nurse, picking a stick into it, to be 2.5cm deep!

I was given further pain relief and assisted on to a trolley for comfort. I have to say, at this point, the care I received was amazing. I then waited to see the surgeon, who appeared two hours later, straight from theatre. A quick examination, confirmed that surgery was needed.

By this point it was 2am and I was told to return at 7.30am. So off I hobbled off home, tired and in pain, which prevented me sleeping! At 6.30am, I hobbled off to the bus stop and back to the hospital.

Thankfully, by 12 noon, I was out of theatre and all had gone well. I was also of my tree on fentanyl and the after effects of a GA. My friend came to collect me, in a taxi, we headed to her house, where I stayed for the next two days, been waited on hand and foot!

The pain was still pretty bad and the daily packing of the wound, was agonising.  It also meant no bath, no shower and no swimming. I don’t know which was worse! 

The wound healed well, and three weeks later, I was dressing free and allowed a bath! Swimming has to wait a while longer, but hopefully, this week, I’ll be back in the pool. I’m so looking forward to it. I miss it so much.

However, this wasn’t the only set back to my swimming, that I experienced. Two weeks ago, I went out to my car, with the intention of driving to the surgery for my dressing change, to discover my car had been broken into. 

The culprits, has stolen a number of items, including two pillows I’d just bought that day and a bag of shopping.  They also stole a purse, containing loose change and my drivers licence. Finally, they stole my swimming bag, that contained most of my swimming and training items. This was devastating.

Luckily, later that day, driving round my estate I found and number of items. However, I still lost nearly £200 worth of gear including: two swim hats (including my much loved “Pride Power” hat), good quality shampoo and conditioner, two pairs of googles and, most importantly, my Garmin swim watch, vital to both my training and counting my laps for next year’s,  swimming challenge. It’s of no real use to anyone without the wireless ANT stick, which I still have in my possession. It’s loss is something I feel most keenly. 

The cost to, replace, is a £140. Money I don’t have, right now, it’s Christmas. I also need to spend an extended time with my family, this Christmas, as a close family member is sick, this brings extra costs with it.

In addition, just to add to this, on the day my car was broken into, because I wasn’t  concentrating properly, I ran a red light. Though I realised and quickly stopped, unfortunately, there’s a traffic enforcement camera, sitting at these lights and I now have a fine to pay, as well! 

I’ve started a “just giving” crowdfunding page, on the advice of my friend, but I’ve done it because A suggested it. It feels like begging and I am not expecting to raise anything from it, there are far worthier causes, out there, this Christmas. 

So, I will just have to wait and hope, that my fairy godmother turns up this Christmas or Garmin have a 90% off sale! Neither are likely, but it is Christmas and Christmas is supposedly about, amongst other things, miracles! This is one miracle, that’s unlikely to come true, along with the culprits actually getting caught! 

 I wasn’t going to add my “just giving” page, it feels like begging and I feel uncomfortable with “putting it out there”  preferring people to “just find it” and give if they want. 

But, if people do want to know what it is.