Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cool Change

I rate Astrology and the Little River Band equally, but I really was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best...

Where to today: pontoon, or fountain?

A competitive cyclist once told me that you don't see the scenery during an 'event'.  You're focusing on the road underneath you and the competitors in front of you.  I think I must have mentally crossed- off ever wanting to do the Round the Lake Taupo event there and then.  I enjoy cycling, because it takes me places where I can enjoy the peace and beauty of different and ever-changing surroundings - not the sight of blistering tar-seal or lycra-clad, frantically pumping buttocks ahead of me.  I'll never be a record-breaking or even technically-proficient cyclist, but just a happy one - I like looking around too much.

Like-wise, I love swimming but I'm hardly a good swimmer.  My head generally stays above the water, like a periscope with huge wing-nuts on either side, as I swivel it around enjoying the novelty of the undulating, bluish-green plane of Wellington harbour stretching out on every side of me.  The wet-suited, goggled and fiercely professional swimmers who knife past me, faces flipping in and out of the water in approved breathing fashion, would be shaking their heads disparagingly if they could, and weren't so committed to strictly pacing harsh gasps and strokes.

I think I get away with it because I'm ridiculously bouyant - staying afloat requires almost no conscious effort at all. Being a lightweight can have it's advantages, and this appears to be one of them. When I was given my own full wetsuit for Paua diving we had to keep buying and adding more lead sinkers to the weight belt just so I could submerge.

So with my mind off floating I can give all my attention to covering distance - which I've tried to extend over the past three months.  Note I say three months - January, February and even March have been drenched so abundantly in sunshine that the days I've been able to swim in the harbour during my lunchbreak far outweigh those when weather stopped play.

French Riveria? The Mediterranean? Nah, it's Wellington, bro.

Having an hour including the time it takes to get the beach means that there is no time for timidity over water temperature or concerns about what else might be in there. (The Wellington Waterfront has hosted a colony of stingray for many years, which has made a strong comeback since being devoured by a visiting pod of Orca).  Straight into the water and out to the moored pontoons is the usual pattern, but since reaching the fountain last year I've repeated that circuit many times this summer.

A potential 'swimming buddy' basks in the sun in neighbouring Chaffer's Marina

There is a special peace about being so far from shore, moving through the sparkling water with nothing else to think about than trying to keep your strokes and breaths as smooth and regular as possible. Every muscle is working but at the same time you are being supported by the sea around you - you might feel the effort afterwards, but for now it's as natural as breathing.  And achieving that blissful state of passive-exertion more important to me than winning a race or breaking a record (as if).

Now into April, I swam for what might be the final time last week. The weather is becoming distinctly less settled (daylight saving ends tonight) and the harbour seems a little more chilly.
 Oddly, despite having next-to-no body fat, water temperature doesn't seem to bother me too much once I get moving - but I have my limits.

I'm reluctant to fold up my towel for another year; it really does feel like saying goodbye to summer.  But what a summer it's been.

Some days you just don't want to stop: There's a buoy just out of view at the top of this map,
which I'd like to try for - next summer.


Not long after publishing this post, another potential swimming buddy 'surfaced'. A two metre female Blue Shark became temporarily trapped in a partitioned 'jumping well' on the Wellington waterfront. By some accounts the most cuddly of sharks, this specimen was freed at low tide with some help from the Department of Conservation.  
Hopefully, I'll have forgotten about this unfortunate event by next summer, when I'm swimming out beyond the fountain, so very far from shore... 

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