Friday, 13 April 2012

Big Fish

I've mentioned before how I used to be like a little fish in my pre-teens, how my ol'dear used to take my brother and I for swimming lessons and how I'd quickly covered my dodgy trunks in ribbons and badges which hailed my progress...but oh how times have changed, and while my bro still remarks on how good I am at mimicking sea life in water, I sadly now admit that I now more closely resemble hippos than salmon.

I'm a proud man, but not a stupid one, so when it came to facing a 1500 metre open water swim for The Triathlon Challenge, I enlisted the help of two dear friends to teach me all they know about freestyle and that stroke that all young lads giggle when saying the name out loud...

Coach Passingham, as I've already posted, began taking lessons just to get involved in The Triathlon Challenge and has kindly started showing me what he's learnt during the hours he's had so far through private tuition. My other coach is sized and shaped almost exactly like one of my original swimming teachers from back in the day - only Mrs Nicky Mansell doesn't stroll along the poolside barking orders at me like a sergeant major with chipped shoulder.

After work yesterday I met the beautifully pint-sized Coach Nicky and the rest of Family Mansell at the kind of establishment I'd originally set out to avoid, a David Lloyd health and fitness club. I've got to say I was pleasantly surprised, while yes there were many an orange lady dressed as if going out for a night on the town, and yes there were also men who looked more preened than a royal cat, there were actually some genuine, exercise enthusiasts in the mix too.

Coach Nicky & The Everyman Olympian dodge the orange folk at David Lloyd Basildon for a pic by the outdoor pool
Coach Nicky's husband (and close personal friend of mine) Darren took energetic son James off to play tennis on one of the carpeted courts while my teacher and I were escorted by her daughter Felicity (or Flick as she's affectionately known) to the pool.

Unfortunately there were two down sides to the timing of our visit: firstly the outdoor pool was out of bounds due to a heating system failure and secondly, the men's showers were off limits due to refurbishment, all-in-all this actually made the place seem more regular and for my mind it even seemed more endearing for it's faults subdued the otherwise over-shiny gloss.

In the pool, Coach Nicky wasted no time in assessing the state of my front crawl and immediately set about giving me tasks to focus on the different elements I was struggling with, we worked on my breaststroke in tandem, a method which allowed me to have a breather while keeping me active.

For well over an hour I was analysed, set back to work and re-analysed, until eventually I'd near mastered the breast and had improved my freestyle to the point of exhaustion. I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson, Nicky's extensive teaching skills (she's an excellent teacher on the governments payroll when away from the pool) were just the tonic, and I even managed to beat a 9 year old in a race too! Though I'm sure Flick was going easy.

1000 metres later I was given the homework of restarting yoga to help with my breathing and Coach Nicky once more remarked that I must 'become as long as I can in the water'.

Afterwards on her Facebook page, Coach placed this update: 'teaching Boris to channel his inner Michael Phelps. Such fun!'

I can't wait for my next swimming lesson, I want to become a big fish!

PS I'd also like to give a mention to excellent local swimwear specialist retailer The Goggle Box, who earlier in the day provided excellent service when selling me some new Speedo goggles and swim shorts, cheers!


  1. Hold on a minute, where are the goggs I bought ya'?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.