I went for a swim yesterday at a 50m pool near the race sight. I got lost on the way there (it seems strange to call it lost when I didn’t know where I was to begin with), and after finally finding it, I paid 5,60 in Euros, received a black coin and was let into the building. I walked into the locker room, which had cameras pointing right at me. Didn’t really matter where I stood, there were enough cameras to cover the whole area. And the women in the locker room cleaning the floor and emptying trash cans didn’t even seem to notice the naked men prancing to and from the shower room. I changed and went to the pool deck. Nobody seemed to care about the black coin I’d received, which is good because by the time I hopped in the pool I’d already lost it.
The pool was gigantic. There was a large water slide, diving boards, platforms, sauna… The center 2 lanes were blocked off for “tempo” swimming, which looked to be lap swim. It was the type of lap swim where you go down in one lane, then back in the next. No lane line between the lanes, just a bunch of people making a big circle. I did my usual 3 minute stretch to postpone actually getting in, and while I was standing there a lifeguard came over and started moving one of the lane lines. Meanwhile, a guard on the other end was moving the same line, but in the opposite direction. They started with the “tempo” lanes being lanes 3 and 4, but after moving the lines it was 2 and 3 at one end and lanes 4 and 5 at the other. I looked at the guard with obvious cofusion, but his German response meant nothing to me. He pointed up at the 10m board where some kids were already starting to leap off into cannon ball tucks, and said something about fear and minutes. To avoid looking like more of an idiot I leaped into the water and starting dodging people along the diagonal that nobody seemed to be able to follow.
It turns out breast stroke is the preferred stroke of Hamburg. Not that anyone is good at it, but everyone seems to try. I was scissor kicked in the neck no less than 10 times. Aside from that, the only incident I had was ramming into the back of a physically challenged athlete from Canada. We didn’t exchange any words, but after I rammed a hand into his butt (unintentionally) he gave me a pretty dirty look. Here’s my thought process: Swimming – swimming – oops, hit somebody – that didn’t feel like a foot – that felt like a… – that guy doesn’t have any legs – ooh, I think I stuck my hand… – I should just keep swimming and pretend it didn’t happen.
On my way out of the pool I discovered the black coin I’d purchased was supposed to be fed into the exit gate in order to let me out. Luckily, there were two officers there that, after I convinced them I was an idiot, unlocked the gate and sent me on my way.
Next stop was the run course. There was a festival going on near transition, so I was planning to run from the turnaround, to the start and back. It mostly worked, but getting around the festival took forever. I urgently needed the restroom, but the man at the door was collecting .40 cents for entry, and I didn’t have a penny.
Getting lost in the city is easy. Streets don’t go for more than about three blocks with the same name, and the town was never built on any sort of grid so it’s easy to get confused about which direction you’re going (North becomes East becomes South, and three rights don’t make a left). The thing that really gets me though, is that I can never tell if it’s a two way road or a one way. Neither can my parents, and since their driving already scared the crap out of me, I’m terrified. Every street has a white line in the center, but sometimes there’s two lanes of cars coming at you, and sometimes cars go both ways, and sometimes all the cars go the same direction. We asked the lady in the lobby how to tell if it was a one-way, and she just told us to “be careful”. Really? I hadn’t thought of that one.
Lastly, I decided at dinner last night that I should take up smoking.