I don’t normally go to public swim. It gives me pool rage. It’s like an obstacle course trying to swim around all of those floaters clogging up the "fast" lane.
It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a car.
Against my better judgement, I took the plunge and went for a swim at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre this morning. Nothing could have prepared me for the testosterone-fuelled pissing match it turned out to be.
As I was doing laps around the thrashers and the floaters, a group of seven guys strode confidently across the deck wearing nothing but Speedos. Sort of like Reservoir Dogs, but without clothes.
My lane emptied out faster than a greased seal on a waterslide. As they were loudly gathering in the water, I asked if they’d mind if I joined their workout.
I must have been the first girl who asked if she could swim with them because they suddenly grew quiet and circled like sharks. They fired questions at me, asking what pace I could hold on 100 free.
I wasn’t about to give into their lame attempts at intimidation so I lied and made up an impossibly fast time.
"Yeah," one of the guys shrugged. "That’s about what we do on an easy set. You’re welcome to swim with us. But we’re probably a lot faster than you so maybe you should swim near the back."
My blood pressure skyrocketed. If there was one thing that would motivate me to swim faster, that was it.
"WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT, SUCKERS!" was what I thinking.
What I actually said -- in a demure and modest voice for added effect -- was, "Oh, I’m sure you’re right. I’ll just hang on the back and try my best to keep up."
Nothing infuriates me more than guys who don’t want to admit that a woman could be faster, better or stronger than them. Nothing amuses me more, either.
The ringleader announced the workout – 10 times 200-metre freestyle, on three-minute intervals. And with that, we were off -- on a pace so fast you’d think we were swimming in the Olympic finals.
I started at the back of the pack, and then dropped a couple of guys after the first few sets. They claimed they were stiff from a really hard workout yesterday. Typical guys. They had to come up with something to explain why I was faster than they were. And they had to tell me their excuse, just so I knew that any other day, they’d be faster than me.
About halfway into the workout, I wanted to stop. These guys were pushing the pace really hard and I was struggling to keep up. At the end of each set, they’d ask how I was doing and I’d say, "Great!" when what I really wanted to do was scream, "YOU FUCKERS ARE KILLING ME!"
But there was no way I was going to stop. My pride wouldn’t let me. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing how much pain I was in. It took everything I had to keep going. They made a point of watching my time on the clock and telling me I was getting slower.
I gritted my teeth and hung on. After it was over, I thanked them for the workout between gasps for air. They told me I was welcome to join them any time. Despite their machismo, they were actually pretty nice.
And since I’m generally pretty nice too, I decided to rebuild their fragile male egos by being as generous as Santa on Christmas Day.
"Holy, crap. That was a hard workout. You guys are fast."
On that note, I'm off to get groceries and rent some movies. I can't imagine doing anything more strenuous than lying on the couch tonight. Plus, I've got to get up early for my trip to Seattle tomorrow. Yay! Road trip!