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swimsuit addict

A 3-swimsuit day!

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Today I had a fun outing to Brighton Beach with my friend Hannah. She’s the one out to visit 40 pools this year—see her blog and Patrick’s excellent interview with her on SwimmersCircle for more info on that fun project—and our primary mission was to swim at the Shorefront YM-YWHA’s 25yd pool. (Dipping in the ocean and eating local delicacies were merely side benefits.)

When I arrived at Brighton it was chaotic—today was a special election day there, with a contentious race featuring a local candidate. There were people pamphleteering on every corner, extra security in the subway station, and the focal point of it all turned out to be the Shorefront Y, which was doubling as a polling station. I slowly made my way in and met Hannah, who had scored us free guest passes for the day. We changed in the cramped locker room and headed to the pool.

Unlike most YMCAs, which are more or less secular workout facilities, the Shorefront Y is strongly identified with the Russian Jewish community in which it’s located. To accommodate its users’ religious observances, the Y’s pool schedule has co-ed hours, men-only hours, and ladies-only hours--we planned to try out the pool during the first and last of these, with an ocean swim sandwiched in between. We arrived during the ladies swim, which occurs around noon every day (the mens’ hours are early morning, before work). I had brought a workout, just in case we had our own lane to do with as we wished, but it was clear when we hit the pool deck that an interval workout just wasn’t going to mesh well with the other pool users. Instead, we swam mostly laps in the designated fast lane, politely dodging and working our way around the other two swimmers there.

I felt a little uncomfortable about swimming during the ladies-only time here—the pool was semi-crowded, some of the other users didn’t have many options for enjoying the water in a way consistent with their beliefs, and I have tons of places and times that I can swim. Also, the two women swimming with us were not very accommodating lanemates (but then they were not being particularly kind to each other while passing, either) All in all, I was happy to get out after about 800 yards, change into a beach suit, and head outdoors.

Before we did, though, we chatted with the lifeguard—Hannah asked her to take a picture of us at the pool for her blog. Turns out she was also the swim coach for the kids team at the Y, which has about 30 swimmers. She seemed ecstatic that we were at the pool, and wanted to know about our swimming backgrounds. She complimented us on being “professional swimmers!”

The morning fog had still not scattered when we got to the beach. We spread out our blankets and sat for a while watching the seagulls. They seemed to be finding a lot of stuff to carry around—we saw quite a few flying and running around with things in their beaks. It was warm and peaceful, and we enjoyed a little snack while we chatted and waited for the sun to come out. Finally Hannah decided to go in—I stayed on the beach to watch our stuff—and she swam down to the white building and back. When I saw her heading back in I headed down to the water with her towel and parka to welcome her back to dry land.

At the water’s edge I watched a seagull wrestling with a rather large crab. It dropped it when I got close, and the crab lay on its back waving it long legs around in the air. It had the longest legs I think I have ever seen on a crab, and I was mesmerized by its upside-down dance. Finally a wave came in and allowed the crab to turn itself back over. Standing upright, it looked just like a tarantula—a really huge tarantula. Ugh. Just then Hannah came in. I pointed out the crab to her, and she said that they were all over the bottom. “I don’t know if you’re going to like it out there,” she concluded. She knows me well! She did point out that the crab had 10 legs—we counted—whereas tarantulas would only have eight. The two extra legs weren’t that reassuring.

I undressed and put on my cap, earplugs, and goggles, and headed in. We had talked about practicing quick entries into cold water for our 250m OW race in Iceland. Hannah managed this—I did not. If I’m this pokey in Reykjavik the race will be over before I get wet!

I did manage to get out into the water and horizontal without seeing any crabs, at least. Then I rounded the big jetty, and there they were. First one, then two, then large groups of giant underwater tarantulas! I usually love the ocean, but today--it was like a horror movie out there. I swam out to some deeper water so that I wouldn’t be so close to them, but the water clarity seemed especially good, and I could still see the dark shapes beneath me. I decided to swim the other way—the water is deeper to the west—and it seemed for a bit like that would work. But I kept on seeing the dark shapes beneath me—by now they could have been anything, and I would have imagined tarantu-crabs. I gave up after not too long and headed in—I was pretty freaked out by the little beasties. Saturday it was seagulls, today crabs—I need to get braver about wildlife. Still, I enjoyed my brief time in the ocean, and was laughing at myself by the time I got ashore. There’s always something amazing going on at the beach!

After our beach adventure we headed back in for part 2 of our pool workout. This time we had a much better lanemate—a young guy who was very polite—and we managed to do part of an HVT workout from several weeks ago. In the last 15 minutes of our swim the pool really cleared out---we swam some of the last set in adjacent lanes, with no one else in the pool:

400 scy warmup
8 x 75 IM, 4 drill, 4 swim [We alternated FL/BK/BR and BK/BR/FR]

10 x 25 @ :45: 4 FL, 3 BK, 2 BR, 1 FR, odds fast
200 IM fast
4 x 50 active recovery

That was all we had time for. Afterwards we went over to Neptune Avenue to pick up some khachapuri, then feasted during the subway ride home. A three-swimsuit day is always something to celebrate!

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