Since I moved home, I haven’t been able to go down to the NUS pool to swim, as it’s too far away and my work-time forbids me from going in any reasonable time. I therefore have to resort to the nearby Bishan Swimming Complex which I usually avoid due to crowds.
As I stepped into the pool, I heard the sounds of electro-type music, the type you typically hear at very poor clubs, as well as the enthusiastic screaming of a woman.
“Left! Left! Get off the floor! Left! Keep it up!”
She was powered by an amplifier-type thing and sounded like some kind of deranged aerobics instructor. My suspicions aroused, I inspected the events board and saw, to my horror, that all the lanes other than three had been closed for AQUA-AEROBICS. from 1830 – 2030 daily for the next month. I (correctly) guessed that this meant I would have virtually no space for lap-training, and cursed the aqua-aerobiccers and their Britney-inspired exercise. This is what they look like:
You cannot see, but they were mostly a bunch of middle-aged, overweight women who did thir best to follow the instructions of a middle-aged, somewhat less overweight instructor, whose qualifications as far as I could tell consisted of jerking about like a spastic puppet and shouting enthusiastically into her mike. I will admit to her credit that it is not easy to do that for three hours, and her endurance (and willpower and lack of shame) was admirable.
Swimming was terrible. In addition to the (predictably) middle-aged women in the aqua-aerobics class, there were a bunch of little kids trying to learn how to swim and a whole lot of other swimmers like me trying to get in a couple of laps after work. If you’ve never been in a crowded pool trying to do serious laps, I can tell you it’s frustrating. You have to constantly be on the lookout for people who might collide with you and worse – you have to give way to idiots who just HAVE to swim the breadth of the pool instead of the length as GOD intended all of us to do (and for which they will Burn in Hell, haha so ironic), all of which slows down the laps and gives you the feeling you’re not performing as you should.
I almost gave up after about six laps and several near-misses with the blind little children who were paddling away on their float-devices. The screeches of the aqua-aerobics instructor-woman was also amazingly clear even underwater and lost her humour-value real fast.
But then it struck me that these were the conditions I’d have to face when I eventually did the triathlon – the dozens of people beside me kicking, splashing, and generically making the water turbulent and unkind to swim in (though I exagerate – Singapore’s seas are nowhere as wild as a swimming pool inhabited by dozens of overweight ladies jumping “left, left, off the floor, keep that energy up!”) and the distraction of all sorts of noises, sounds and sights of the Singapore coast (though I exagerate again – nothing in Singapore’s seas look as bad as dozens of overweight ladies jumping “left, left, off the floor, keep that energy up!”).
So I gritted my teeth, looked upon the little children with a renewed vigour, and proceeded to swim with gusto and generically in all hope of making some of them capsize – make no mistake, I may have volunteered to help underprivileged children, but that by no means means I like them. I also resolved not to give way and to bulldoze my way forward in the water, damn any collisions, potential scars and eye-gouging that might occur. Those bloody kids could drown for all I cared, they were competitors for my space, and I would swim to defend it!
And of course, with that kind of attitude I crashed. It was with a little girl with a bright kind swimming suit, and she was inexperienced enough to have to use a floatation-board. I surfaced, splutterring, a curse on my lips, and when I broke water I heard her say, sprightly and apolegetic, giggling a little bit,”
And my heart melted into the pool, warming it a little bit, and my face flushed from having thought such horrible thoughts about such a precious little thing and how silly I had been, and how it was for the best that little children learnt how to swim so that the evil people of the world could not tie them in sacks and drown them in rivers.
I did sixteen laps, and then I went home feeling a lot better, whilst the ladies jumped “right, right, off the floor, keep up the spirit!”.