I did it, guys!!!

June 28, 2008

Thanks so much for the encouragement to just go to the pool and see what happened.

I went and it was fine. Not wonderful (it was kind of run-down looking) but just fine, and the water was nice. I swam for 30 minutes, did 26 lengths of the pool. I could have gone longer actually, but was starting to get tired and then the decision was taken out of my hands, they told everyone to get out of the water about 20 minutes before closing time (the gyms in Paris do this too). I wasn’t too disappointed, as I think I’ll go back to the pool this weekend.

It was pretty crowded when I got there, and the first person I saw was some teenage girl with a knockout figure in a bikini standing by the edge of the pool flirting with a bunch of well-built young men. Yikes. I had that moment of hesitation and then just said to myself to suck it up and get over it, and from then on it was fine. Me, big, huge, in my full-coverage swimsuit, with my cellulite and puffy body, bad legs and all, walking around not worrying about what anyone thought from the moment I left the changing room until I was fully dressed again about an hour later. In fact, at the pool it’s like it is at the beach – you see ALL KINDS of bodies. There are of course some beautiful ones, but in general that’s not the majority, and at the end of the day those less-than-perfect bodies are all doing something for themselves, and that in itself is a really good thing.

The water was pretty warm, and although it was crowded the lap swimming worked reasonably well (considering we’re talking about unruly French people here). It was less chaotic than I’d expected, although much more so than swimming laps in the US. They had sectioned off the pool into 3 areas – one for horsing around (kids mainly) another for laps, and a third section in the shallow end where they were teaching an aqua-aerobics class. (Bonus! I got to see what one of those was like, since that’s also something that’s been bubbling in the back of my mind).

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’d been putting off going to the pool for a LONG time. I first looked up the pool and it’s hours on the web last September, and I went by to get the information sheet in January. So how did it stack up versus my expectations?

Well, it was cleaner than I expected, although the tiles etc are clearly old and worn. The unisex changing room turned out to be a non-event, as everyone changes in little changing booths, which have real doors on them. The floor is kinda gross, but I’d anticipated that and brought my flip-flops, so I went directly from shoes to flip flops and my feet never touched the floor. Showers are communal too, but everyone keeps on their suit. Sure, you don’t rub down and wash yourself the same way, but I did rinse off and even washed my hair. What’s provided is pretty minimal, but I had thought ahead and brought my own towel with me and swung by a sporting goods shop on my way to the pool to buy a swim cap (mandatory for both men and women, someone had told me about this, that’s how I knew to do it). I had a 2 euro coin with me for the locker (returned) although I’d also brought a padlock with a key on a safety pin.

I forgot to bring a comb, and if I start swimming regularly I’ll need to find a French equivalent of Ultra-Swim shampoo. And probably the waterproof ear plug things, I tend to get ear infections when I swim…

All in all, I am SUPER PROUD OF MYSELF for going. I enjoyed it and can see myself working swimming into my life from time to time. I’d like to go back over the weekend to get another dose.

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