The Contortionist


Weight Loss: +3lb. Total loss: 12.4lb.  ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG….

Eleven years ago, in 2003, I lived in Australia for a year.  I spent the majority of the time in Perth, WA, but I also went to Sydney for a couple of weeks when my Dad came over for a visit, and we spent a lot of time exploring the beautiful city.  One day, when we were wandering along Circular Quay, heading towards the famous Opera House, we came upon a street artist, who was clearly entertaining the crowd.  A lot of people had started to gather, so we joined them to see what was happening.  I can’t remember the guys name, but he was very funny.  Soon, a massive crowd surrounded him as he told lots of jokes whilst performing all manner of precarious tricks.  Finally, he got to the finale: he was going to squeeze his body through a string-less tennis racket.  He wasn’t a big chap by any means, but that racket looked pretty small, and very rigid.  In amongst a lot of ‘ooohs and aaaahs’, and continued encouragement, he finally did it, and stepped out of the racket to rapturous applause.

So, why have I regaled you with this happy story?  Well, at that time, little did I know that a mere 11 years later I too would need to perform such a daring act of contortion having purchased my first ever racerback swimsuit.  A racerback is a type of sports top/swimsuit that looks like a T- or X-shape at the back, so there are no straps that impede movement of the shoulder blades during sport.  Or something like that.  In reality, it looks great when it is on, but getting into such a garment is another story.  Squeezing your entire, heaving body through a space the size of a melon without garrotting yourself, stopping circulation to any one of your limbs or making your elbow bend in a way which would result in a bone-crunchingly horrific snap is time-consuming at best, and nearly heart-attack inducing at worst.  I emerged from this process with a heart-rate of around 200, but all my limbs intact.  Just.  Getting out of it is equally soul-destroying, I hasten to add.  How I managed it without ripping the swimsuit (or myself) to shreds is one of life’s little mysteries.

Anyway, having beaten the swimsuit, I turned up at the pool triumphant.  My racerback suit was sure to make me faster in the pool.  Why else would women put themselves though such trauma?  Well, I can tell you now that the trauma didn’t stop there.  After needing to stop for a rest after ever 50m, for a time almost equivalent to that it took me to swim the bloody 50m sapped my confidence, shall I say.  A fish I am not.  Okay, so I’ve not been doing any regular (read: any) swimming since my IM attempt in 2011, but I didn’t think I’d be that bad.  I managed 500m before giving up in search of some much-needed oxygen, which seemed to be severely lacking during my swim.

I know I’ve got quite a while until the half IM, but my poor performance gave me a bit a of a shock.  That and putting on weight which is the complete opposite of where I want to be, has made me feel a bit rubbish.  However, wallowing in self-pity isn’t going to help one little bit.  So onwards and upwards.  I’m *hoping* the weight gain is in part due to the fact I’m a bit PMT-ish (sorry boys), which always saps my energy too, and may explain some of the horror of the swim.  However, a work night out and a bucketful of vino is probably more to blame, because if I so much as sniff booze I pile on weight these days.

So back to a booze-free life for a good while which is fine, because I don’t really miss it.  I’ve been walking to work lately too, just to get myself back into the habit of doing more regular exercise.  I’ve not been running recently, but I just feel so big and bloated I want to lose a couple of kilos before I start pounding the streets, because my joints just aren’t up to it right now.  I’ll start tracking my food too, as I find that helps a lot, and keeps me on the straight-and-narrow.  I’ve got a training plan in mind now for the Outlaw half, and also another plan to get me to the start of that, but I’ll write about that the next time.  Priority one is getting the weight moving in the right direction again, after all, it may make squeezing into that bloody swimsuit a little bit easier…..

Drowning doesn't look like drowning


Since i’ll probably be talking about swimming a lot in the future, whether in the pool or open water, I thought it wise to share this fantastic article  by Mario Vittone, formerly of the US Coastguard, on what a person who is drowning really looks like.  Forget the screaming, flailing arms of the movies, this is much more subtle (though if someone is screaming and flailing – get help!).

The full article can be found here: , but here is a quick excerpt from it on signs to look for:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.

Reading this actually shocked me because it made me think how easy it could be to miss someone in real trouble.  Watch the video on the Instinctive Drowning Response that is contained on the web page – scary, isn’t it?

I hope I never see anyone like this when i’m out swimming, but at least now I’ve got a better idea of what to look for.

Safe swimming everyone….