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Monday, July 18, 2011

Swimming With Music: Flying too Close to the Sun on Wings of Pastrami?

Freestyle swimmer 01

I had 1800 meters to swim on Sunday after renovating my bathroom all day and since that's a really long stretch of time to be in stuck in my own head and since there's not much to do except for well, swim, I wanted to try something different.

Swim with music.

That's even possible, you ask?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

I have been salivating over a waterproof I-Pod holder and waterproof earbuds for a year now, dreaming of the possibilites of having music to swim to on the long swims, perhaps even stopping to do some solo synchronized swimming in the lap pool if the mood invited me, but the ones in the stores were too expensive to rationalize.

I thought about waiting till September for my birthday and begging but I could wait no longer.
I found them new on Amazon for exactly half the price and I had some left on an Amazon gift card. Score!

And so this weekend my new best earbuds made the maiden voyage across the pool many many times but not before they passed the tissue test first which was sticking some TP inside the waterproof case and submerging it to make sure my beloved I-Pod would remain snug and dry within the safety of their new thin plastic walls.The TP survived! Hurrah!

So I was off to the pool to try them out. I slipped into the freezing pool that's supposed to be heated, put on my marathon training mix, I put on my armband, put in my earbuds, goggles, swimcap (it felt like a lot of gear like I was headed out for extended deep sea diving) and ...

At first, I felt like a cat in a sweater.

It was really awkward and I felt like I couldn't swim with one of my arms correctly. Swimming with this thing on my left arm made me feel lopsided for a while. The wire kept getting stuck and when it wasn't, I was very aware of it swimming with me and then the music was just too fast to start out and it was distracting and throwing my breathing all out of whack.

No one was in the pool area but if they were, they'd have seen someone tangled in wires swimming off to the wrong side, hyperventhilating, with foggy goggles because my goggles also decided to act up on this day too. Normally they behave.

So I was zigging and zagging because I wasn't taking a full stroke with my left arm because of the armband and I kept having to stop and fix all these things and it sounds more annoying than it was really because I actually expected this for myself. Things that take a normal person 30 seconds to figure out usually take me 30 minutes when it comes to technology. At least.
I began to think that perhaps swimming with music was like George Costanza trying to combine sex and a pastrami sandwich: perhaps they're not supposed to be together. Like George, perhaps I was flying too close to the sun on wings of pastrami.

But finally, I made one last stop and final adjustment, I switched off the fast-music playlist and put it on plain old "shuffle" and loosened the armband a little so it was not an I-Pod tournequet and thought it's got to get better than this now.

And then...something happened.

At about 600 meters in I started getting used to this!

Perhaps George was doing it wrong and it IS possible!

All my adjustments held and this was actually pretty cool!

My goggles were behaving, the wire was properly situated, and a slow song came on, specifically "I Wanna Be With You" by Mandy Moore (dontjudgeme) and I slowed down and swam.

The next couple songs were fantastic and I was really starting to dig this!

And then it occurred to me that "shuffle" really isn't my favorite option and that I was in desperate need now of a "swim play list" complete with slow songs to start out and then increasingly faster songs. Something without festival music.
Because until that moment I had forgotten about all the Filipino festival music I had downloaded for my son's Spring Festival, where they highlighted the Phillipines.

Not that there is anything wrong with music from the Phillipines, it really is quite lovely! Just a little weird to exercise to for long periods of time and there is no way to fast forward without stopping because I put my I-Pod in the locked position.

So I was stuck.

It was very international sounding, there was a lot of cheering and whistle-blowing (oddly)  as if I were literally in a parade, but as I swam on I began to get used it and it was actually pretty cool and festivally, like I was swimming through Epcot or something. It sounded like something that you would hear while on one of the long lines waiting something for a really long time but it was cheerful and very parade-like and international -- it actually wasn't so bad.

Until of course it became the song that would never end. It would take a break and I would think it was over but then it would continue on, as if it knew I was waiting for the next song and it would tease me and pretend it was ending and then say, "Just kidding!"

I listened to this one song from laps 18-25 and trust me, I'm not a fast swimmer.

It was finally over and some Coldplay came on along with some other yummies and they saved me. Before I knew it, 36 laps were completed.

Swimming with music is like running with music to me: good for the long training sessions. Like this one.

Sure it takes some getting used to, but in the end, it was pretty cool!

I just need to make myself a better playlist for next time.

I will actually review the gear itself in a separate post (I bought it, it wasn't given to me to try out or anything), and I actually found an amazing deal on some good stuff, so I'm excited to pass that along.

I can't wait to do it again now that I got all the kinks worked out!

Have you ever swam with music? Would you?

(Do you swim? You should. It's really fun.)

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