Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Kinds of People in the World -- no, three . . . or maybe six

You'd think that people who wake up early to get to my workout at Laney College by 6 a.m. would be there for the exercise. You'd think that exercise would mean the same thing to most people. Well, no.

Exercise means several things to my Laney Gang. (Here's my chance to use my Masters Degree and use bullets!) See where you fit in!

  • Fat Burners/Muscle Toners -- they just swim back and forth and don't really care about improving technique. They listen to my technique tips like my daughter listens when I tell her that the way she flosses is just pathetic.
  • Triathletes -- just there for the freestyle, thank-you-very-much! Want to know the secret (double top secret) tip for making them faster. Suspicious of me that I don't give them that. Think I will if they keep coming.
  • Type A Competitors -- work hard every set, get there early, jump right in. Hates it when I stick slow/dumb person in their lane. Goes to meets, knows their times, can read the pace clock. Very important at their job. When lane crashes occur always other person's fault. Irritated when people ask questions because that means they will get 15 fewer yards in today.
  • Detail People -- could talk to me about their stroke for hours. Want me to watch them make adjustment, talk about it, make another adjustment, talk about it, then talk about how it all works together. Could probably just stay dry the entire hour talking, yet still think they made a huge breakthrough.
  • Formerly Competitive -- think they know swimming, because they swam in high school in the 70s. Stroke's different now, hello!!! Don't want to change stroke. Don't want to change hairstyle. Don't want to change radio station in car.
  • Not Morning People -- drag their pitiful butts into the pool each morning and think we're all talking too loud. Just want to get it over with because it's good for them. Wish I would appreciate what a sacrifice they made to come.
  • Don't Get It Folks (but won't quit because they paid $10 for the class) -- can't figure out why I keep picking on them. Why don't I just repeat the set so that they can hear it? Why am I always in such a hurry? Better yet, why don't I write it down? Other workouts just post it on a white board. At least then they can zone out and just swim some laps.
  • Fin Monsters -- really good with fins, in fact too good. Believes that they are really powerful kickers, but that skill is trapped deep inside and cannot come out in non-fin sets. Irritated with me that I cannot help them. What do you mean, I have to bend my knee -- you just said that I need to kick with my entire leg? Ankles can't work independently from feet; may also have trouble patting head and rubbing stomach. May be quite functional while running, etc. but doesn't appreciate my suggestion for rebreaking ankle and having it set in another position.
  • Always Out of Shape -- makes it to workout three times a month, usually on a test-set day or all Butterfly which further exacerbates the problem. Finally comes three days in a week, but is so tired at work that dozes off while welding, calculating load strengths, or matching blood types and then vows to sleep in for just a couple of weeks. Insists that this week will also stop smoking and drinking. Maybe weightlifting would help.
  • Just Part of My Day -- comes all the time, pays attention, knows what the set is, friendly with others in lane. Socializes outside of pool with others. My reason for living!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Is the Pool Heated?

It's not like we're in Kazakhstan, with a mixture of semi-treated sewage and rainwater filling a concrete rectangle left over from a Soviet tank doing doughnuts. The NCAA rule book states that the water temperature must be between 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit for competition. So, that's what people set their pools to for practice. It's just the air temp that's a problem. It isn't even that cold. Check out my favorite Antarctica video:

That's cold.

I like coming home from coaching morning workout at Laney College and seeing the roofs of the houses covered with frost and the occasional chimney gaily spewing chunky, asthma-inducing particulate. When I drive in each morning everything is dark and I just see the empty streets.
Occasionally in my neighborhood I see a bathroom light on or the papermanboy, but not much action. If I leave four minutes early I also see my neighbor Ed, who drives his El Camino off to work while wearing his "Ed" shirt.

Since I work at Laney, I wonder if I can get a "Higher Ed" shirt?

I like leaving early, on those rare mornings when I don't have to fold laundry or put away the dishes. Then I get to stop at Starbucks in the Fruitvale neighborhood, selected because of its easy-on/easy-off access to the Nimitz freeway and not because I'm a corporate lackey. I was just saying that very thing to my friend as I was driving my Audi R8 to Bloomies to get a new Juicy bag when my iPhone went off.

When the temperature is not in the 30s, I wear my Laney jacket and everyone at Starbucks knows I'm coaching swimming. When I wear my double layer warm jacket I just look like I'm off for a day of Search and Rescue and no one admires my toughness any longer.

The crowd at 5:40 a.m. at Starbucks is entirely composed of tradespeople and law enforcement officers. Occasionally there is a woman who is in one of those categories, and sometimes there is someone dressed well -- off to a busy soul-less day at the office -- but I like the amazingly bilingual staff (how cool would it be to be that fluent) and embarrasingly enough, I like how they remember my order.

Then it's on to the pool, where it's always between 79 and 81. Yeah, I'm tough getting up that early to work outside. But my swimmer are even tougher. They don't get paid. I wish they could get extra fast because they come to the pool on days like this, but life doesn't work that way. I hope they know how -- each time they get out of their warm bed when the alarm goes off -- they are becoming stronger people. It fills me with pride to see how many people show up on the cold days. Thanks for warming my heart!