I began Thursday at the Aquatic centre with 20 x 50m lengths, again mainly front crawl. To start, I felt weary and not equal to the task, but by 11 lengths I was in the zone, as they say, and everything became looser, easier. I decided not to do a mile, to save myself for the evening swim at Boundary lake. Two weeks ago I only completed half the course at Boundary. As I'd been off colour and medicating myself with Lemsips in the previous week, it shouldn't have been a surprise, but I was disappointed.
We arrived at the lake later than usual, so the regular triathlon crowd had already started to thin out. As we headed out to the first buoy, we realised glumly how luxurious the weeds had grown in the fortnight since our last visit. It was a case of mind over matter as the weight of the straggly plants swathed my arms with each stroke, grabbed at my legs with every kick. The heaviness hung in the air. We didn't admit it till we were safely out, but the place reeked like a swamp. My technique had definitely improved, but the greenery wouldn't let up, this was unnerving and demoralising.
I arrived at the first buoy after the others and we chatted briefly before setting off on the middle leg of the course. As I kicked away, something held me and I guessed it was weeds from around the buoy's anchor ropes. The pull was at my left wrist and I chopped my right hand down the length of my sleeve to brush off whatever was clinging onto me. Something bobbly hung on, and a surge of adrenalin revved up my urge to flee. I called the others to wait. By now I could see that a fishing hook had snagged my wetsuit, the fine wire piercing the neoprene in two places like a tiny vampire bite, snaring me with the finest nylon line. Remarkably, it hadn't broken my skin. I felt compelled to thrash the thing off, but I resisted this preservation instinct. I held my arms out on the buoy and my companions set about attempting to free me. My immediate thought was to bite the line but I dismissed the idea. Without even putting it to my mouth, I knew that this line meant business. Working like microsurgeons, my swimming buddies painstakingly fed the hook back through the twin punctures and pulled the determined thread with it.
We completed the course, but we won't be going back. Salford Quays have never really appealed to me, but I'm expecting to be pleasantly surprised when we take the plunge there next Thursday.