Swimming, breathing issues

Centre snorkel

In my youth I was a very powerful swimmer, I had both stamina and speed, however I decided I wanted to smoke more than I wanted to swim, a decision I have since regretted quite often as I do believe I could have been good enough to go on and swim for England, yes I really was that powerful a swimmer.

I can do all the strokes, front crawl, breast stroke, back crawl, dolphin-butterfly and side stroke with the front crawl being my most powerful stroke. As well as speed I also had stamina and I used go swimming before school and I would think nothing of swimming 5km in a session.

Even though the smoking had ruined any ambitions I might of had I still kept my hand in so to speak and would go swimming quite often through my adult life.

Once I reached my 50’s it all tailed off and I really just stopped going to the pool, I am going to digress here for a moment, I never really swam in the sea, the reason for that is because I was such a good swimmer, that might seem counter intuitive but the rational is very simple, the water held no fear for me and so it would be easy for me to get “out of my depth” and underestimate currents, besides that it’s actually a fact that more swimmers than non-swimmers drown, so even on beach holidays I never really went in the sea.

I do remember about 20 years ago going swimming with my ex and a crowd of her friends who were all a lot younger than me and full of the bravado and boastfulness of their youth, one of them in particular thought he was some kind of sports hero, you know the type, everything they do, they seem to be good at, be that football, rugby, cricket or any sport, well to be honest that day he got right on my tits with his showing off and boasting in front of all his mates so in the end I challenged him to a race.

He just looked at me and burst out laughing, he couldn’t believe an “old man” had actually challenged him and he made this big thing of how he was going “take it easy” and “let the pensioner (I was in my early 40’s FFS) win”, “no” I said “Don’t do that, In fact lets have £50 on the result” he just couldn’t believe I said that and went on and on about how this was going to be the easiest £50 he had ever made.

So we lined up at the deep end and still he wouldn’t stop with his boasting about how he was “going to to wipe the floor with me”

The race started we dived in, a simple 50m 1 length race, I surfaced and kicked off at a 50m pace and did the length, I hit the end expecting to see him right behind me and to my amusement he hadn’t reached the halfway point, that was probably the easiest £50 I ever made 😂 He also learnt a valuable lesson, people are good at one sport, and this was the one I was damn good at.

Then in 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer and in 2019 bronchiectasis and I hadn’t been swimming for years by this point because I couldn’t.

However this year my Dr has been nagging and nagging me to do something about my “core fitness” and suggested swimming as a good way to build up a little bit of overall fitness

My 2 diseases mean I struggle to even get from my house to the car which is just 17metres which is why the medics kept nagging me to try and improve my fitness.

So last week for the first time in what must be over 15 years I went swimming at my local pool.

What happened? I managed less than 10m is what happened, I can’t breathe when doing the front crawl, when I left my head up and turn it to the side to breathe in I just cannot get the air into my lungs fast enough, I was left hanging on to the side of the pool gasping for breath.

No front crawl for me then, there is just no way that’s going to happen because the only way I know how to swim it is properly, breathing out when your face is underwater and turning your head to the side to breathe in between stokes.

So breast stroke it is then.. meh I don’t really like this style but at least I can keep me head above water.

One of the pool life guards saw my issue and when i had got my breath back suggested I got a “centre snorkel” a what? a snorkel that mounts in the centre of your head as opposed to one that mounts on the side, apparently these types of snorkels are the best type for swim training as you can concentrate on your stroke and not worry about turning your head to breath.

So now I own one and I can’t wait to try it out next week and you never know I may actually even venture out of the shallow end of the pool.

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