Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bringin' Home the Bacteria

You can pretty much set your watch by it: At the end of most indoor swim seasons, coaches will succumb to disease.

I think it’s a let-down effect. After expending Herculean amounts of energy for the last seven months, the first day these coaches don’t spend more than 14 hours on a pool deck, all the germs that have been camped out on the rims of their body’s orifices attack at once. Within hours, they are coughing, wheezing, sneezing and demanding to know who used up all the ibuprofen.

Mr. Coach is no different except that his post-championship let-down effect usually goes bacterial within a week but then it still takes at least three days to convince him to go see the doctor. Who has the Zithromax prescription printed out and waiting before he even gets there. (I have said it before and I will say it again: How my husband’s bloodline survived the Middle Ages is a mystery to me. The dust mites alone should have wiped them all out, and yet somehow they survived and the pharmaceutical industry couldn’t be happier.)

The worst part is, if you’re not careful, a diseased coach is going to infect the rest of the family. Usually I plan ahead and make sure that I don’t get behind on sleep, I keep eating right and – this has become critical – I keep swimming through the period of time when the let-down effect is in full swing. I am convinced that a moderately reasonable swim regimen exposes me to just enough chlorine to kill germs but doesn’t wear down my own immune system.

This year, it didn’t work out that way. One day, I was doing my usual noontime swim, minding my own business. I was coming into the wall on the 50 of a pace 100 free and – KABLAM! – I hit something so hard my first thought was I had somehow stupidly hit the wall. I recoiled and stood up, reeling, and what to my crossed eyes should appear but some barge of a human being who had decided to swim across my lane at the exact moment I was about to flip turn.

Now I’m sure to most experienced swimmers, collisions are not an unfamiliar occurrence, especially if you’re used to sharing lanes. But I am 1) not an experienced swimmer and 2) really, really adept at keeping people out of my lane, even when noontime swim gets crowded (it’s all about not stopping, even if that means turning a 100 into a 1,000). Long story short, my collision with the Unapologetic Human Barge (I know, right?) kept me out of the water for a couple days because of the bloody nose and internal nostril swelling, and that was long enough to let down the defenses on my germ portals.

Yeah sure, I could have and should have just done kicking those two days, but I didn’t, OK. And then Mr. Coach got sick. And then I got sick. And then the kids got sick. And then we were all sick.

Sickness – it’s the exclamation point on the end of a long season’s sentence.


  1. The Screaming Viking!March 29, 2009 at 4:44 PM

    It's so funny that you just posted this. During spring break I had three different illnesses that almost ruined our trip! I have had one sickness after another since the high school season ended. I even had a 24 hour spell of Vertigo yesterday. My wife is making me go to the doctor to tell him "I'm not sick right now, but hang on... I will be in a few minutes. Can you tell my why i keep getting sick?"
    I guess I can just show my wife this post and try to convince her that maybe it is normal!

  2. OK, look, I'll write you an excuse note for your wife this one time, but after that, you're on your own.

  3. Only thing worse than end-of-season letdown/disease is air travel. Every time I get on an airplane it's guaranteed:
    a) I'm going to have the drains for at least three days.
    b) I'm going to have to sit next to some sick or grossly overweight person.

    This trip was worse. The SF Hyatt pool was 15 yds long, 3.5ft deep all the way & crowded with munchkins playing Marco Polo, who had no clue what the three crazy old farts were doing at the far length...can ya say "no flip turns" and "collision is inevitable?" After one 30-minute session of as many 30s as you can stand without having little Jimmy plow into you, I surrendered...God's way of telling me to go have a beer.

    So even my prophylactic chlorine sinus rinse (a.k.a. my swim routine) was shot to hell.

    Ah, but it's SO nice to be back in the masters' pool.

  4. PCSR - that's good, Michael.

    Air travel reminds me of hotels. Maybe that's part of the problem, too. I've starting feeling like Howard Hughes about hotel rooms and all the germs in them!


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