Today was certainly a first. As most of my faithful readers know, when I restarted swimming about 4 or 5 years ago it didn't bother me at all. Then every now and then I'd get some pool snuffle. I'd blow my nose a few times and that would be it. Over time it has gradually become worse. Lately one swim produced about a day of pool snuffle, with the taps turning on about 6 hours after leaving the pool. Several yoga classes were made miserable by this. Twice now in recent weeks pool snuffle has developed into a full blown week long cold. I usually get about 1 cold a year, so this has become flat out unacceptable.
Several of my buddies have allergies, and have been generous about sharing what treatments have worked for them. I've never been allergic to anything, and given the usual delay between the pool and the snuffle, I'm a bit reluctant to think I'm allergic to the pool, or more precisely, the chemicals in the pool. My latest theory is that my sinuses were mildly irritated by the chemicals, and responded by making my nose run. Over time they have become more and more irritated or more sensitive, which perhaps has increased my sensitivity to something else that didn't normally bother me, or it's taking longer and longer to flush out the irritant. Several people have suggested neti pots. The first thing I thought when I read up on this is that it sounds like a good way to drown using less than a cup of water. Next, there is the undeniable ick factor. I figure if we were meant to snort water up our nostrils and spray it around, we'd also have a long and mobile trunk so we could get some fun out of it.
Neither was I thrilled about seeking actual medical attention. Our doctors look good in comparison to the care that was available in the middle ages, but that's about it. They can cope pretty well with clear and simple cases like broken bones, cuts, or organ transplants. Anything much subtler leaves them out to sea without a compass or a watch. The medical system here is badly frayed, and doesn't serve the needs of the populace very well. Neither does it well serve most of the people providing the services. (hint, there could be a rant coming on the medical system.)
I'd always known that some people swim with nose clips. Personally, I thought they were weenies, or hadn't mastered control of their breathing. Well, I apologize to them. Clips were about $6 at my favourite tri store, so I figured that was cheap enough to try before enmeshing myself in the coils of the medical system.
I had no idea what to expect. For a while I thought they might slide or pop off, but they seem pretty firmly anchored. First thing I noticed was that I had to roll just a little further than usual, and the subtle timing of breathing has changed in a big way. I had not previously known how much breathing I actually did through my nose. It turns out that as my face turns towards the surface, I'd started breathing in through my nose a fraction of a second before changing how my jaw and tongue were interacting so that I could breath in through my mouth. Neither had I understood how I used breathing out through my nose to help my body balance in the water.
Clip flips, as I was thinking of flip turns, are a total piece of cake now. (Chocolate, of course.) It's much easier to concentrate on the turn, when you don't have water surging around in a bodily cavity next to your brain. (To forestall the half-wits out there, I'm referring to my sinuses, not the alleged cavity between my teeny brain and my skull.)
In fact, the only problem with today's swim was that I was swimming like a floatie. Part of it, a small part, was adapting to the changed breathing, but I have apparently forgotten how to swim in a week. Intervals that I should be hitting easily were a real struggle. For the first time in a long while I was getting pain in my right elbow again. I'm not sure what my legs and feet were doing, but it sure wasn't providing any propulsion. My catch sucked, and I had no feel for the water whatsoever. My only consolation is that I'm still not quite over my cold and I wasn't expecting much. I broke off part way through the main set when I realized I was going to exhaust myself trying to make the intervals. 30 minutes of that, then another 30 minutes of water running.
The water running was another adventure. It felt so good to get the clips off! There was one person in the dive tank when I got in, which is pretty typical for that time of day. The breast stroking circle swimmer followed me in. I see her all the time, she swims slow laps around the edges of the tank. I'm not sure why she doesn't swim in the lap pool. I started running, and she started swimming. 30 minutes later she had just caught up to me. Considering I'm going through the water vertically, and she's going horizontally, you can see what a fast swimmer she is. What got crazy is that a whack of other people joined us. The two Italian gentlemen regulars were not a surprise. But four other women joined us, all strangers to me. Plus another gentleman, making 5 people who had no idea what the traffic patterns were. They are sort of cute, treading water in their float belts, waving their arms and legs in a feeble way. A couple more floaties were working up the courage to get into the freezing cold water, as they put it, just as I was leaving.
It's been 9 hours since leaving the pool, and I have haven't had the least bit of pool snuffle. So my initial reaction is that they've done what they should. They kept the water out, and the pool snuffle away. Now I just need to get my breathing and roll nailed down, get my stroke back, and see what I can do with the flip turns.