That's how I described my first swim squad in years, before I went.
It's like your first day because you don't know anyone.
It's worse because you have less clothes on.
Earlier this week I went to an adult swim squad at Healthstream QUT Kelvin Grove.
I was nervous because I'm a BOTPer. I feel that BOTPers like me are a misunderstood bunch. Some people think we're slow because we don't try hard enough. Some people are embarrassed that we keep do trying, even though we remain slow.
You all know by now that I'm not one to let that stop me.
So I fronted up to the pool, enquired about the squad that was about to start, and detailed my recent swimming regime to the coach. (Haven't swim for a few weeks, and that session was a 2k set.) They explained that the squad swims up to 4ks in a session, and the slowest lane cycles on 60 seconds per 50m.
With my present lack of swimming I know can't do either of these things.
I can see now that my nerves belied a lack of confidence on my part. This was a mistake. Like other predators, coaches can smell fear.
Even so I was disappointed that the squad coach and pool staff tried to talk me in to swimming casually rather than joining the squad session.
I almost - almost - gave in and swam by myself like usual. But I knew I wanted to jump in the deep end and join a squad sooner or later, and a couple of weeks before Christmas when the numbers are low seemed like a good time to me.
As I started to show some resolve one of the staff members encouraged me to give it a go. If I couldn't keep up or felt under pressure, I could just stop and swim by myself, he explained.
True enough. Giving up isn't normally my modus operandus. But it is actually an option.
Warm up was 8 x 50m on 60 seconds. I was behind by the third or fourth one. On the sixth one the coach stopped me and suggested I get my breath back before the next task.
This wasn't going well.
For the rest of the warm up, though, she adjusted my time base so it was achievable. She did the same for the main set and I repaid her by continuing to swim hard.
By the end of the set she seemed more encouraging. I think she saw that even though I haven't been doing a lot of swimming, I am reasonably fit. (I don't know what part of "I'm training for Ironman" she didn't understand when we talked before the squad started.) Maybe she could also see that I'm not afraid to work and hurt, and although I was a little rusty I understood how to swim in a squad.
I will go back in the new year. I don't know how that will go - because the squad was so small in the lead up to Christmas I had a lane to myself. That won't be the case next time I'm sure and don't want to get in everyone's way...
We'll see. At the very least I've got the 'first day at school' out of the way.