Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Naked Stranger Hugged Me Today: Another Weird Naked Story

I had a swim workout scheduled for today. It was my first scheduled swim workout in a few weeks, as I was letting the imaginary tonsilith / actual damaged esophagus heal. Honestly, the workout scared the shit out of me: it seemed like too much, too fast, too soon.  I've been agonizing over the workout since I opened up the e-mail this morning which detailed what I was expected to do.

As I sat in my car in front of the Y, I resolved that although my coach had outlined her intention for my swim, I was going to make my own: If I stuck to my own intention and couldn't meet hers, it was going to be considered a win.

My intention?  I wanted to focus on my exhaling which, in theory, will help me swallow less water.

There's been a fair amount of conversation about why I get sick in the pool. We've ruled out nutrition*. And while I do show signs of sensitivity to chlorine, it doesn't mean I'm hard core allergic. For the most part, I just seem to swallow too much water.  

The feedback on correcting this problem has been this: Don't swallow so much water.

That's all well and good, but the reality is I don't swallow pool water intentionally. I've never woken up thirsty and thought to myself, "Hey. Why waste all my good water here at home? Go to the Y and get as much free pool water in your belly as possible! Suckers!!" It's not like I'm Austrian or anything.

I guess all swimmers take in a little water. I either take in more than a little or what I do take in has enough poison (Chlorine is poison, kids. And when people sweat and piss in the pool, it creates more little strains of poison.) to make me nauseous. Whatever. I did some research and learned that full exhales underwater -- and completing the exhale before I turn my head to inhale -- will minimize my intake. I knew this before, but it served as a good reminder, nonetheless.

As I'm entering the six lane, like a lamb to slaughter, I notice Aurora in the pool. I am not good at recognizing friends in the pool: swim caps and goggles make it hard to identify anyone. But since Aurora swims for 3 or 4 hours at a time (she crossed The English Channel in September and is planning a few more major swims), she has a shit-ton of nutrition and swim gear on deck at the end of her lane. If I can't recognize Aurora-the-person, I can always recognize her stuff.

I stopped by and we chatted for a few minutes. The pool was busy this morning, so even though I had dropped my gear a few lanes down, bitches be swarmin', so I started to move back to my lane. I asked Aurora how much time she has left in her workout and she told me that for the duration, she has to swim with a parachute.

[insert record scratch here]


Part of her torture training includes swimming with a smallish parachute attached at her waist -- I imagine this provides some resistance so she feels like she's swimming against current. Right then I knew that my dumb-ass workout wasn't that bad: no where on the workout did it tell me to strap on the parachute.

My swim was okay. I managed 1,750 yards (that's a mile, give or take) and was a little faster on my sets than I was supposed to be. I cut my warm up and cool down significantly and totally forgot about my intention to focus on exhaling. I just kept thinking about Aurora, a few lanes over, dragging a damn parachute behind her.

I didn't exactly meet my intention, and I didn't exactly meet the intention of Coach, who had about 1,000 more yards or warm up and cool down for me, but I came out unscathed.

Back in the locker room, I was immediately aware of the Y's hi-tech ventilation system: a $20 oscillating fan mounted to the top of the wall at the corner of the locker room. By the time I had crossed the 6-lane pool, walked thru the 4-lane pool, got up the stairs and was into the shower area of the locker room, I was cold. At my locker, with the oscillating fan blowing cold air directly on me, I became uncomfortable.

I complained about the dumb fan to Aurora,  who was just around the corner from me, and doing her best not to flash me -- even though she's threatened to do just that on numerous occasions because she knows how uptight I get about Weird Naked. A woman in the same bank of lockers said, "I think you can turn it off," which surprised me. I guess in my short-bus kind of mine, I thought ventilation was controlled in the sophisticated offices of the Y (the locked broom and supply closet in the corner of the locker room). Little did I know, there was a pull cord on the fan to adjust speed and turn it off and on.

Still in my swimsuit, and with a towel wrapped around me for warmth, I went to the fan to turn it off. I didn't even see the cord. As I awkwardly fumbled with the dial, a woman -- naked and still toweling off -- announced that she also disliked the fan. And before I knew it, she was standing behind me. Really, really close behind me.  

Okay, her naked and wet front was partially touching my towel-covered back. 

WEIRD NAKED. Possibly Weird Naked with Assault. That's a felony in Texas, I'm sure.

I am the Queen of Weird Naked. Not because I do Weird Naked, but because I witness a lot of Weird Naked. Since I've been so open about how Weird Naked freaks me out, I have a cadre of peeps who are compelled to text me the minute they are witnessing Weird Naked. 

The only thing that kept me from absolutely collapsing into a freaked out heap onto the floor -- other than I'd probably see naked woman's hoo-ha from the ground up, was that Aurora was privy to the whole scene: she saw the Weird Naked -- the Weird Naked that involved me.

I got into the shower and stayed in it for no less than 7 hours, just to make sure the coast was clear when I got back out. It was.  I got myself dressed and out of there in 10 minutes flat. 

Subsequent Facebook exchanges resulted in actual LOL's. 

Me: Was that woman totally naked when she stood right behind me to the fix the fan? Did I just win the title for Weird Naked?

Aurora: Oh Yeah. And I was thinking: OMG, Tracy is going to die! 
Aurora: I was in a towel, so I couldn't help!

I will never love swimming in a pool. I could grow to like swimming in open water (if the water temp is a perfect 74F). But I do love seeing friends at the pool, getting a reality check on what I'm doing and of course, being hugged from the back by a naked stranger. 

Some people have to pay cash money to get naked people to touch them!

And then I went to the store and bought some chocolate milk and a Snickers bar. Good day!

*We've ruled out nutrition as a factor to sickness except when I come to the pool with nothing in my tummy but coffee and Shot Bloks.


  1. You have effectively terrified me enough to never want to go to the Y.

    I could handle weird naked lady - it's her weird naked boyfriend in my changeroom that would freak me out.

    Do you think they go home and discuss how uncomfortable they made people that day?

    "Hey babe - you shoulda seen it - the minute my hairy gut touched his back, he curled into a little ball."


  2. God! I hope they don't work in teams!!!

    Husband says there's a fair amount of weird shit in the men's locker room as well. Lots of pantsless teeth brushing and for reasons unclear to me, they've got a TV ... and a couch ... in their locker room. Lots of naked butt on the couch.

    I'm sorry, in advance, for your nightmares.

  3. There used to be a guy who went to my old gym that did an interesting line in Weird Naked.

    He used to blow-dry his pubes.

    You're welcome.

  4. When I swim, I find the only thing that keeps water out of my mouth when I turn my head for air is to blow out a puff of breath just as my mouth clears the water. This seems to clear the last of the water that is draining down my face away from my mouth just in time to inhale hard. I don't know if that is when you're taking in water, too, but I hope it helps!

  5. We've got illicit use of blow dryers, too, Andy.

    Cyclin' Missy -- I'll try it. I think I'm having some timing issues with my arms and my exhale (I'm not done exhaling when my arms tell me its time to turn my head and inhale).

  6. Hmmm....never encountered weird naked myself thank goodness. Don't think I would care for it though! Creepy...

    Great job on the swim! Sounds like you didn't get sick either which is a huge plus! I can't/don't swim...I mean I can swim but I am not so good at laps...I can't even imagine using a parachute contraption to create resistance. That's some serious swimming!