I have been thinking I need to swim in a 50m pool ahead of my triathlon in just over a week (!!). I could have jumped on my bike – or the bus – and headed over to the actual pool I will be swimming in at Crystal Palace, but I decided to take the chance to try out the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre. Once I’d made the decision I was ridiculously excited and twitched as the DLR snaked slowly towards Stratford, and there it was, Zaha Hadid’s ‘pringle’ in all it’s watery glory.
As I approached the building, I mingled with a group of school children, who were going there for their lesson – imagine that! The woman on the desk was friendly and directed me towards the ‘Competition Pool’, and my excitement levels rose a little bit more. The changing rooms were big, with lots of space to change and plenty of lockers (take a pound coin) and a row of hair-dryers for people who don’t have hair that goes into a frizz when meeting with direct heat. I quickly changed into my swimming gear and sauntered out to the pool, where I was told to put my towel in my locker, which filled me with slight horror because I like to minimise the time spent exposing flesh between the changing room and the water.
The (lovely) 50m pool was divided into slow, medium and fast lanes and swimmers quietly carved up and down, respectfully allowing faster swimmers to over-take and finding a nice space to do their own thing (none of that hanging about at the end, chatting lark here, thank goodness). I assessed the pace and opted for a ‘slow’ lane for my breast-stroke warm-up, then ducked under to the ‘medium’ lane for my faster lengths (I really should accept that I am a ‘fast’ lane swimmer and stand my watery ground there). I was worried about getting into the 50m pool at my triathlon and feeling overwhelmed by the size and depth of it all (no shallow end), but this felt great, no problem. I had to get my head round the counting lengths thing – two ‘normal’ lengths for each 50m length…it went quicker. Before I knew it, I had swum 60 ‘normal’ lengths, so did four more to make it a mile. I didn’t want to get out, it felt so good to be in such an amazing space, the pool where all those medals were won two years ago. I looked up at the diving boards as I swam, marvelling at how anyone could throw themselves off. I think I might just make this a regular trip – all that loveliness for just £3.50!