Russian work scheduling

I’ve written very little about the weirdo pool I have to swim in here in Moscow.  The embassy’s indoor pool (at least it’s indoors) is about 16m long, thus I do three laps and call it 100 yards.  Or meters.  Or whatever I feel like calling it that day.

The most disgusting part of the pool is that no one cleans it.  I realized this recently when I noticed a line of green scum at the water level in each of the four lanes.  I don’t touch the wall now, except to flip turn.  I keep telling the “lifeguard” (really just a Russian dude paid to zap our badges upon our entry) I’m going to bring in a scrub brush and clean my own lane.

Well, being new to Moscow, I didn’t know that the embassy solves this cleanliness problem with something even worse: they close the pool for (at least) three weeks.  What?  WTF?  Three weeks?  Yes.  They close it to re-tile (every year?!) and clean the pool.  It must be disgusting…gross.

Yes, I will be without my beloved pool from September 13th to roughly 4 October.  The search has begun to find a Russian pool to swim in.  I found the Olympic (1980) pool complex.  It’s got a bunch of pools in it.  And I even got my spravka (справка, по-русски) from the doctor.  (Gyms require a note from your doctor stating that you are fit enough to use their facilities.  Without your spravka, you won’t get in.)  This coming weekend I will test run the trip to the facility, as it is a few metro stops away.  I’ll check out the prices and pools, see if they have lockers, shower facilities, and whatever else I need.  With work, I think I’ll be able to maintain my workout schedule during the pool closure.  Crossed fingers!

Christiansborg Round swim report

Well, I finally made it to an international swim. Got the right airport and everything. Christiansborg Round was a 2K swim around the Danish Parliament, in downtown Copenhagen. What a great event! Over 1000 (1033 to be exact) swam in the 2K, 93 in the Mens 40-44 age group.

DSC02603The 10K racers giving a “school” on drafting.

The race started in Frederiksholms Kanal. I swam past the Black Diamond, continued along the waterfront, under Knippelsbro Bridge, past the Stock Exchange, Højbro Plads and Gammel Strand, and concluded in the straight in Frederiksholms Kanal. The water was incredibly (for me) cold. The day prior they measured it at 16 degrees Celsius, or about 60 degrees F. When I jumped in (it was an in-water start), I thought my diaphragm would seize up. Sure I wore my wetsuit, but it was sleeveless, and did not keep the cold out.

DSC02666That is me on the far right with my arm over my head, right before the horror of 60 degree water.

The water was interesting. Sure I knew the water in the canal came from the sea, and would be salty, but I don’t think I’ve ever swum that distance or amount of time in salt water. After a while, the taste was starting to get to me. Nausea, per se, didn’t come rear its ugly head, but I felt that anymore time in the water, and I would have to fight that demon.

DSC02670One of the few instances when I led my heat.

There were two times when I had to stop, or, rather, flip over to my back and do a modified easy backstroke. The sensor that the race directors handed out was a velcro’d affair and the strap started to come off at about the 500m mark. I slipped the end of it into my watch strap and was good to go. I surely didn’t want to spend the 600 danish kroner or whatever outrageous sum they’d charge me for not returning it at the end.

DSC02677The reason I like OW swimming: battling through slower swimmers.

The other ‘easy backstroke’ point was when one of my goggle lenses filled with water and stung my eyes. I work long and hard getting my goggles right, and I’ve got something like 14 pairs, most of them the Speedo hydrospex that seem to fit my head and eye sockets best. Still, I always seem to have a goggle problem in anything longer than 1000m. This incident happened at about the 1500m mark.

DSC02701Isn’t that beautiful. Sadly, no time to smell the water lillies while racing.

There were also two sections of what I could only call forest. At these points I got entangled in weeds and vines, to the point where I had to let my recovery hand drag a little to allow loops of vines to slip off my arms. However, I never did stop even when I was seemingly encased in the vegetation!

DSC02688The “face” that my support team (my son Sam) made fun of.

Which leads to the subject of navigation. Again I relapsed into my comfort zone–breathing only on the right. In essence, I was blazing the trail, and cutting through the vegetation myself. A few times I looked to the left and saw the experienced (read: smarter) swimmers drafting off each other way to the left, close to the canal walls. I would adjust my line to go meet them, then a few 100m later I ended up back too far right. I probably really swam 2200 or 2300 meters, based on my zig-zag course.

DSC02676This pic was taken right at the third turn. I should be closer to the wall.

My goal was 40:00, and I finished at 40:46. I think I could have beat my goal with better navigation and bilateral breathing, which is what I’ll work on between now and the next swim. Whenever and wherever that will be.

IMG_0083Only about 15 meters from the finish…

All I am is a body adrift in water, salt & sky