There are moments where I conclude that my heart (aka Skippy) is a poop, and want to rip it out, slap some sense into it, and then stitch it back into my chest again. I had one of these moments earlier. I think I am still having one of those moments, because clearly trying to co-operate with the stupid ball of muscle is not working (I mean seriously Skippy, you’re such a poop). I drew an anatomical drawing of a heart earlier, and it accidentally turned out (pretty much) the size of an actual heart. It’s on my wall now…Wait, I digress. The cause for my moment is as follows…
They changed the date of the uni & medical school swim club trials to this weekend (specifically, the day before lectures start) instead of the 2nd of October.
My thoughts upon discovering this were:
Thank goodness I checked (to see if they’d put up a time to meet) this week instead of next week (I don’t know why I did, maybe part of me knew).
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! I have 5 days to magically be able to swim 100 metres in front of 2 coaches (one of whom is an ex international sprint and middle distance champion, the other of whom is a successful masters swimmer) and THEN take part in the hour long taster training session, and then team relays… And remain in some state to go to the first swimming social of the year. (That is absolutely no trouble at all for my 12 year old self. But as of last week I’ve discovered that I currently can’t. Even. Swim. More. Than 20. Lengths. Let alone keep going for an entire hour of warm ups and main sets and NOPE my stupid heart just does not agree). Oh yeah… There is also the whole point that my cardiologist told me not to swim but… I promise not to pass out in a pool and drown, as he fears. And denial keeps this safely (ok so unsafely) out of my mind.
I really, really want to be part of this team. It’s such an awesome opportunity to train with top level coaches and access amazing facilities (the uni team trains in the Olympic pool for goodness sake. The. Olympic. Pool… I mean, that also presents a huge issue to my current self because it’s 50 metres… And my heart does not agree with that). I really really want to take advantage of the social aspect of a swimming club, which is one of the main things attracting me to the idea of swimming again. I joined a swimming club by myself before (in that nobody else new joined at the same time as me) and instantly made friends each time I changed squad. Despite this, I’d really like to join with all the new people, so that I can make friends while everyone is awkward and in the same position, rather than trying to break into a friendship circle that already formed in my absence (as happens when you nearly die in freshers week and come out of hospital to find that everyone made friends and the ones you had ditched you).
There are social events every Wednesday (as with most sports societies), which is amazing, and means I’d get to hang out with this whole new group of people I’m going to meet on, a fairly regular basis. I’d like to be there for the first social event because I feel like that’s a bit of an ice breaker. I just can’t wait to have the kind of friends that you make through sport. My swimming/ football friends are some of the closest friends I ever had, and they’d come round my house before or after training… And I just miss having that team feel, I miss it like I’m missing my dog right now.
It would be so awesome to start fresh in the middle of continuing familiarity, to have my own thing and my own space with nobody I know and this whole other group of friends and everything, away from everyone I know. It will be a great opportunity to just put myself out there and be myself for once (something sport gives me the confidence to do) and I’ll be wildly outside of my comfort zone because I get weird about meeting new people and being by myself, but being the only person I know will force me to… be a sociable human, and make any friendships even more of an achievement. I kind of love that I don’t know anybody else who swims.
Having said that, their training sessions last for two hours… I can’t swim for two hours (well, my body could, but my heart can’t). The types of people on the social media page are mainly serious national level swimmers, although that’s just the top level squad I guess, as the development squad is for people who can swim 100m but stop at each end for a while, and the middle one is for people can swim 100m freestyle. To swim in the competitive squad I have to swim 25m of each stroke, which I can do and used to do so at every training session, but would currently kill me (I’m sorry, I know you guys couldn’t care less about details like this). Knowing that, I know I can make the team, as I can meet the requirements for at least one of these squads. But my heart will not be able to swim 100m and then do an hour’s swim session, let alone relays.
I remember club swimming. It wasn’t easy, it was relentless. And I started sitting out laps because I couldn’t breathe (thanks heart) until eventually I just couldn’t swim any more. I remember choking on the fluid that came from my lungs as I breathed heavily, feeling like I couldn’t breathe, with water catching in my throat as I breathed in and crackling into my mouth as I breathed out heavily (I’d have nightmares about this feeling where my coach screamed at me to swim through it, because at training he’d get super angry when I kept stopping and stuff). I remember the wheeze and inability to breathe that didn’t get better when I used my asthma inhaler. I remember the necessity to breathe so often messing up the rhythm of my stroke and making me even more out of breath. I remember the cramps, never getting muscle fatigue when training because I could never work hard enough to make my muscles ache. I got that after swimming 10 lengths the other day. 10 lengths isn’t even a warm up to a swim session. So my heart is the barrier between me and myself (I will always be me, but it is so much harder to be and feel like myself).
I’m so, so frustrated as I really want to go for this; I don’t want to pass up this opportunity, but it will probably completely break me. Also, I can’t afford to pay to get into the swimming pool, which means that I can’t train… Wait, does that also mean I couldn’t get into the trials even if I wanted to?
Anyway, I am having multiple moments where I just feel like my health is wrecking things (I’m sat here writing this with feet so swollen that they feel weird – thanks for that one body. Heart/ kidneys… Can you not?). I don’t feel unlucky about my health, in fact I feel so fortunate that I’m not in a far worse situation and I’m incredibly grateful that I’m so healthy compared to some. It’s just that even at the thought of swimming again, this room feels so much less lonely, I have this new energy… I want to go for it… and yet I am completely physically incapable.
No way but denial.