So I used up my freebie pass to the gym and tried out the city pool and have been busily mulling over my options. What to do?
The gym makes you sign a contract (so lame) but I could buy someone out on Craigslist so I wasn’t roped into something long term. The cost would be about $47 per month (via Craigslist, $60 signing up new). The pros in its favor are: salt water system (easier on my hair & skin), super nice locker rooms and extra amenities like a women’s only hot tub and sauna, massage, and the option to go to a yoga class if I ever wanted. I especially liked their hours: open 24 hours a day. For serious, a before-bed swim is pretty much the most awesome thing ever.
The cons are: shorter than normal lap pool making for weird workout adjustments, the cost was a bit painful, and the contract / commitment. I had high hopes for a summer only pool membership of the nature they offered last year (it was a sweet deal), but they decided they were tired of swim only folks sneaking out of the locker room to do other stuff, so they jacked the price up. Sadface.
The City Pool
The city pool itself is a much better set up for lap swimmers. Pros in its favor: A full 25 yard pool, big time clocks, more lanes, and lots of the stuff swimmers need on hand and free for use: pull buoys, kick boards, even flippers. The pool was clear and clean, and even though there were a lot of people there, the lanes were open and clearly marked “slow, medium, fast.”
Cons: Kind of strange hours, strong chlorine (thus the clean looking pool), and the locker room was really barebones, small, and honestly a little yucky. No extra awesome stuff, plus the price was about the same as a gym membership at $45/month. No contract though, just a month to month thing you can cancel any time.
The College Pool
I was pretty encouraged when I popped into the pool at the college. I had no idea they had punch passes for community members, and
the price is really great. $100 for a 40-visit punch pass. The girl told me wrong on the phone, it’s actually pretty similar price-wise to the city pool. $100 for 25 visits. The pool is a full 25 yards, and the locker rooms were okay – not the gym’s level of sweetness, but a smidge better than the city pool. A big, fat con however, is that their only lap swim hours are from 5am to 7am. Ouch. And it’s still an hour round trip for me, so yeesh. As much as I’d love to say I’d rise to the occasion, I just don’t know if I can keep that kind of schedule long term. The facilities are a little on the old side, though improvements seemed to be going on.
Today Tracy called me after her physical therapy appointment. She’d talked to her therapist about swimming as a low-impact exercise for her, and while she can’t arrange her body in typical swim strokes without injuring herself, there are exercises she can do in the water that would be good for her. The PT suggested a pool I didn’t know existed at one of the hospitals in town. Tracy went to check it out and they have decent rates (you don’t need a doctor’s note or prescription to use the pool) at $30-something a month, and adding a spouse is only $15-something. No contract or anything, and the pool is pretty underused. It’s not great for kids as there are geriatric patients doing PT in the pool sometimes, but they have a couple of lanes for lap swimming and their hours are, while not 24 hour open awesome, much better than the city pool or college pool. It might be a weird size though, the lady thought it was 21 yards (what?) but, we’re going to try it out tomorrow (today actually, I’m up late again) to see what we think. Fingers crossed the locker rooms are clean and not crumbling, and we might have a winner.
Meanwhile back at the ranch
Meanwhile, I’ve used some of my Amazon affiliate payments to purchase some gear and I thought I’d share in case my endless droning about where to swim hasn’t put you to sleep and instead has completely motivated you to take advantage of that awesome pool you’ve got only 10 minutes away.
I already owned this book: The Fit Swimmer : 120 Workouts & Training Tips. I’ve been photocopying the workouts and sticking them in ziplock baggies. Totally old school, but it works. (I’m up to 55 laps without dying, woot!) It goes over technique in the beginning, and has some good info about how to find your speed based on your resting heart rate, and then they get into the workouts, which are clearly laid out and start at beginner level and move up in length and difficulty.
Without a coach to flip lap numbers for me and not being on speaking terms with numbers, I ordered this SportCount LapCounter. I pretty much love it. It fits on my index finger, and I can tap the button with my thumb every time I do a flip turn. I count straight through the entire workout so I can see the total of laps at the end. This one is fairly barebones, I think there are other counters / watches out there that do a whole lot more, but for now this is great.
This Silicone Swim Cap is made of win. The latex caps we used in high school tore our hair and we had to use baby powder in them to keep them from pulling our hair out. These new silicone ones go on so smoothly, I can’t wait to get a couple for Miss K for swim camp this year, she’ll be so happy.
I was eyeing this Speedo and had it in my cart for a bit, but the price jumped up. I was also nervous about ordering one online. Speedos are meant to fit really tight and can be hard to get on, and I had no idea really, what my size might be these days, so I wanted to try one on in person. I went to a sports store in town and found a plain black one for $28. It is hard to get up over the, um, mom cushiony thighs and seat, but once it’s on, it’s perfect.
A silly aside: Can I just say that I was kind of worried what I’d look like in it? I mean, I know I look pretty good for having 4 kids and being ill a lot, but it’s been a lot of years since I had 3% body fat and raced in high school, you know? But it really isn’t bad! I’m not about to selfie it up for posterity or anything (ohmygosh), but I was really pleasantly surprised. Maybe because I went in expecting the worst? But for years I’ve worn mom-suits from Lands’ End with the skirts and the shirred tankini tops to kind of disguise the pooch, you know? And speedos leave nothing to the imagination. No boosty bust padding or slimming panels or anything… and my word, it’s really okay. I’ve got dimpled thighs and my stomach isn’t flat, but it’s FINE. And good heavens, no one cares, really. We all look like a bunch of strange plastic heads with alien goggle eyes and nobody at any of the pools I’ve sampled the last two weeks has looked anything remotely like an Olympian.
Alright, moving on. I bought some on-sale goggles for like $5 the same time I bought the suit. I have no idea what kind they are, they’re clear, not mirrored, and they don’t leak or fog. Yay.
I got this Pull Buoy, which is much fancier than the ones I remember using. You use these between your thighs or ankles to keep your legs stationary but afloat while you swim only using your arms to work your upper body.
Paddles are helpful when you use the Pull Buoy, and again, these are prettier and fancier than the flat paddles I used back in the day. Pull Buoy and paddles used to be my least favorite drill because I was so much slower with them, and I still am, but it’s less stressful without 40 girls racing past you.
My legs were always stronger than my arms, so I really loved kickboard practice and I still do! It’s my total favorite part of the workout, so I usually save it for last.
We often did kickboard laps while wearing Zoomers. Mine in high school were red (mom, do you still have them somewhere?) They give you horrible blisters at first, and I remember us wrapping our toes and ankles in bandaids. Then you get used to them, and they remain one of my favorite workouts. I read that the yellow Zoomers are much softer, and since I’m sure my red zoomers are long gone, I ordered them. They do take a little getting used to across the bridge of the foot, but I’m having a lot of fun with them. You push more water, and you can feel the burn all up and down your legs. I could kickboard / zoom all day long. Love it.
Finally (FINALLY) I got this FINIS Mesh Gear Bag (Black) to hold all the gear. It is basic, and I probably could have made one but it does the job. The wet stuff can breathe, and I put my swim cap, goggles, and rinsed out suit in it, too.
Okie doke. I’m going to be asleep before 3am, dangit. Nighty night.