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Kicked out of the pool on a good day

My swim had been going fairly well. OK, I was still a wiggle worm and my hands were too stiff during the "grab" part of my stroke but I felt like I was making corrections. I felt comfortable moving through the water and no longer cared about my speed.

The main set of the workout consisted of swimming 800 yards twice. On every fourth 50, you had to swim hard, then continue with the workout without stopping. It was kind of like an interval run -- easy paced swim, then kick it up, then easy paced, then kick it up. The idea, swim master Greg told me, was to get your body used to recovering in the water without having to stop.

The first thing I had to figure out was how to count it out. I broke it down to four sets of four laps with the final lap being the gun-it lap.

I know I swim slow but I can't imagine how much I crawled on that first lap after each sprint. It was hard, but I found it manageable by breaking it down into smaller segments. I wasn't swimming 800 yards at once with sprint intervals. I was swimming 200 yards and building my speed -- four times in a row.

Greg came over to correct a few things on my stroke and I took off on my second 800 confident that I was going to improve my technique this set and finish the entire workout.

At the end of lap two it came.

A cramp.

My right calf tightened up and I started hopping around on one foot in the shallow end quickly grabbing my leg to massage out the knot.

Greg looked over at me.

"Just a cramp," I said.

"In your calf?" he asked.


"Get out of the pool. You're done."

Of all the days when I would loved to been kicked out of the pool, I'm tossed when I'm anxious to get back to work.

I was bummed, but I understood. When your calf cramps, you're done swimming for the day. If I started swimming again, Greg said, my muscles would just ball up on me and I wouldn't be able to kick and, well, then he'd have to jump in the pool and drag me to the deck.

So today I'm working on stretching out my calf muscles. And it just so happens I was planning to go to a yoga class with a friend tonight. The universe has some foresight, doesn't it?

In the meantime, I'll be researching some recovery drinks to see if I can prevent the episode from happening again.

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