Is it just me or is swimming the most knackering of physical activities if you’re a bit out of practice? Something to do with the breathing rhythm. After just one length of the Kingswood pool the other day I had to take a breather. Then I just about managed three in a row. Then I had to stop. One problem, I suppose, is that swimming lengths is incredibly boring so I don’t often do it except on holiday, when for some reason it becomes the only physical exercise I don’t resent. By the end of a week somewhere hot I can swim like a fish, but in the gap between hols my lungs seem to forget how to cope.
The other problem is that I insist on doing front crawl. Breast stroke, which is the easiest and the one everyone really wants to do, feels like a cop-out and is only really permissible for OAPs and women. Backstroke is impractical in busy pools and you’d have to be a prize plonker indeed to do the butterfly in public. So front crawl is the only sensible option.
Also I’ve always admired barrel-chested men who can do endless lengths of front crawl with a beautiful, symmetrical steadiness and economy of style. Burt Lancaster in the (bizarre) film The Swimmer had the knack, and so did my dad, so I suppose that as with so many things I really just want to emulate the best bits of him. Certainly I have inherited the barrel-chest but I’m not so sure my front crawl is as elegant. The good thing about swimming however, is that you can’t see yourself doing it, so it’s quite easy to imagine you’re just like Burt Lancaster.