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6 December, 2004

I can see! I can see! Damn.

I swam with goggles today, for the first time since childhood.
Since September, I've been swimming regularly without them, and enjoying the experience at the time, but a couple of hours later my eyes begin to hurt and my vision becomes misty; by evening the entire exposed parts of my corneas are bloodshot.  For some reason, itchy eyes make me feel tired (probably just association with how my eyes feel when I am tired!), so a midday swim can lead to an unproductive evening.

Modern goggles are a little more comfortable than those I remember, but the very fact that I recall discomfort meant I deliberately avoided buying bottom-of-the-range cheap goggles this time, so should expect something better. Oversized gel pads provide a superior and softer seal to my eye sockets, without sharp, rigid plastic gouging the sides of my nose. Even so, my skin remained marked for well over an hour after a 30-min swim. I hope there's no cumulative long-term damage.

Without goggles, I obviously can't see much underwater, only blurred shapes in muted colours. As I said above, I rather like that, as the sensory deprivation forces one to focus inwards, concentrating on no more than one's stroke and generally 'zoning out' of the wider world. Unable to see the boundaries of the pool, they lose relevance; the pool could be infinitely wide and bottomless, for all I can see or care.

Goggles slam one back into that wider world - the sides and (rather grubby) floor of the pool are fully visible and surprisingly close, as are other swimmers. I suppose it's a combination of an optical effect and assertion of visual evidence into an imagined space. By that I mean that when I couldn't clearly see the bottom at the deep end, my subconscious naturally exaggerated the depth; my perception was of something much deeper than the actual 2 m. This was very distracting for the first 20-25 lengths, but I was beginning to be able to ignore it towards the end (50 lengths, or 1.25 km (0.78 mile)).

I may need to modify my style a little, too. Obviously, I dived in without goggles, and swam the first length without them, but the full force of kicking-off from the side to begin each subsequent length was sufficient to break the seal around my right eye a couple of times.

I'm sure I'll get used to goggles soon, but there were several moments today when I wanted to rip them off for greater freedom.


Funny, I swim with goggles, but because I'm very short sited I kinda get the 'blurred shapes in muted colours' thing without the sore eyes afterwards! :)

Posted by danbee at December 7, 2004 05:19 PM
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