Last December, having been unable to run for a few months due to my knee injuries, I decided to turn to swimming instead.
As it had been a long time since I had last swam, and due to a burgeoning waistline, I was super-conscious of going to the pool. Days before the intended swim, I checked and checked for all my gear, the opening time of the pool etc.
When I reached the pool at Tampines Safra, my goggles broke. I had no choice, but to retreat.
I told myself I would continue to swim, after I bought a new pair of goggles at Giant.
I did not return to Tampines Safra, because I was afraid the guard would recognize me (the guy who came, took off everything, didn’t touch the water, and left). Therefore, I went to the one at Pasir Ris Sports Complex instead.
After I finally swam my first lap, I was pulled out of the pool, because it had started to rain. I told myself that I must wait out the rain; I wanted to make sure that I complete what I started out to do.
The tug of war between my will and Mother Nature lasted for an hour and a half. And I finally swam the intended laps.
Lesson 1: The start (or restart) of anything could be full of obstacles and uncertainty, but if what I wanted to do is right, I have to see to the end of it.
I fell ill after that swim, and the next time I managed to touch the water was in mid-January. And this is the most intense period of swimming I had undergone.
Twice a week, I would go for a swim and gradually increase the intensity. Hopefully, when I can run, I would not need to spend too much time cranking up the stamina and endurance.
My 2nd attempt was still much of building confidence in swimming again. Other than coordinating my strokes, I also had to brush up my breathing techniques. There were a few times when I choked and took in big gulps of water. Incidentally, that happened while I was in the middle of the lap.
And did I say I also took the middle lane? (I had been taking the middle lane, because it was the least busiest lane)
I had to suppress my reflex to gag, prevent panic from taking over and press on until I reached the safety of the end of the pool.
Lesson 2: Hiccups can happen, and when it does at the most intense stage, I must suppress the urge to break down and perservere to the end. A lot of times, projects must continue and I can’t expect everyone else to wait for me to pick up my pieces.
As I grew more proficient in controlling my techniques, I began to focus on increasing the intensity. I thought all obstacles are now manageable.
As it turned out, the busy swim lanes themselves pose issues too.
I once found myself sandwiched between 2 strong swimmers. They were swimming front crawl along the lines of the lanes, while I was doing breast strokes in the middle.
One was in the pool before me, and the other after; and both swam at different speeds.
Somehow or another, they managed to catch up with each other and swim shoulder to shoulder every now and then, which from my point of view, was once every 4 laps that I took. I knew it, because I would be swimming from the opposite direction. The 3 of us would meet in the middle of the pool when it happened.
Because they took up most of the space, and because they couldn’t see me approach when doing front crawl, I had to avoid them. The first time we converged, I literally stopped and waited for them to swim past. In the subsequent clashes, I simply dived under.
After all, all I needed was to pull through that 1 human’s length under water.
Lesson 3: There would be clashes, and sometimes the opposite parties may not even realize they are imposing on me. Do I confront them? Or do I resolve the issues by taking an alternate route?
If the situation is as critical as converging in the middle of the pool (therefore allowing little room for immediate mediation), I as the party who saw that conflict arising, has the obligation to take actions to minimise collateral damage.
These are some of the lessons I have come to appreciate for the past weeks. I might say I have known them all the while, but every now and then, we need to be reminded of the principles, much like how an occasional training day could consolidate all that learning we picked up in life every day, even though “we knew all these stuff all along”.