Half km - cool!
We grabbed our last chance for a swim in the outdoor neighbourhood pool yesterday before heading back to Kunming today.
The pool was pretty cold, but JD managed 500m of fast-improving breaststroke before calling it a day.
Mask try harder
JD's been desperate to return to the reservoir I took him to a few months ago, to try and catch more clams. To that end, he spent some of his pocket money on a snorkel mask last week which he has been keen to try out. Unfortunately, my eye doctors said swimming was forbidden for a month after my operation, let alone in a dirty reservoir, and Jiajia doesn't enjoy swimming.
So instead, we tried out a swimming pool not far from our house which I found on the map recently, and invited JD's friend "Johnny" to come along with his mum, who was happy to look after both of them in the water. JD had a great time, though the mask wasn't quite as water-tight as he'd hoped.
About a month ago I got a tip that there was an outdoor public swimming pool about 15 minutes e-bike drive from our house. JD and I have been waiting for a dry and sunny day ever since. Yesterday, the constant rainstorms finally subsided (for now, at least) and so we headed for the hidden pool.
It wasn't as busy as I'd expected and the water was cold, but bearable. JD loved the children's pool where he could easily stand up (he's got used to coping with adult pools up until now). And when he found a stack of plastic fish, he was in his element, throwing them around the pool and then diving underwater to fetch them all. I just lay quietly in a corner of the pool to keep an eye on him but, after 15 minutes, the local kids had clocked me and worked up the courage to come and try their English on me!
Fearless four-year-old fish
We had seen weather forecasts threatening rain every day, but we have had dry, sometimes pleasantly overcast, days so far. We've been making good use of the swimming pools here and JD's confidence in the water has grown rapidly. He particularly loves swimming underwater and has been on the waterslide dozens of times (occasionally with me!). The warm sea and sandy beach are also within five minutes walk and we've been there a few times too.
Today marked my final swim for a while. Last year I bought a special Teacher's Card for the University's Olympic-sized swimming pool, valid for 50 visits within 6 months. I thought I could manage a couple of visits a week, especially as JD loves the water, but it turns out that the pool, whilst huge and clean, is always too cold for a small child to play in, so he's only been once. Instead, I decided to try and use the visits to go regularly by myself to get a bit fitter.
However, family commitments, work duties and illnesses (mine and JD's) don't always allow personal fitness targets to be met and, after 4 months, I'd only been a dozen times. Over the last two months, though, I've really pushed myself to go whenever there was a free moment - usually 4-5 times a week - and my card ran out today with a total of 46 visits made. A visit usually means a kilometre-long swim (20 lengths), taking me about 40 minutes, but today I pushed myself on to 1.5km - a personal best. I'm not sure I'm a lot fitter, but my breaststroke is pretty good now and it's always nice for an old dog to learn new tricks.
The recent cold weather in Kunming makes the University swimming pool seem a little less chilly, so there's been less shivering as I start my twice-weekly swims. I've never been a very strong swimming (200m certificate at school!) but I did some research on YouTube and bought myself some decent goggles and now I can swim non-stop laps for about 30-40 minutes (breaststroke). I started with 10 laps (500m) but have been slowly increasing the distance and managed 900m yesterday. Hoping for a whole kilometre tomorrow.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries