Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Best in her pool

A small dip is leading to an ocean swim.
Photo / Thinkstock
A small dip is leading to an ocean swim. Photo / Thinkstock

I like to think that there are no competitive streaks in the indeterminate slap dash which make up my personality. That's why I don't do sport.

"Here have the ball, it really doesn't matter," I would say as I passed it to the other team.

"Please do pass me, I'm not at all concerned," I would say to the runner next to me.

Which is why I was surprised to find myself in the Parnell Pools attempting to swim 40 lengths without stopping. Just because of something a friend had said.

"I just hopped in to see how far I could swim and before you knew it I'd swum 40 lengths," she said one day. "It's 60m long so that's ... well, that's 2.4km. Gosh, what a surprise."

I winced. Not because I didn't want her to swim 2.4km but, in our relationship, she's the runner, I'm the swimmer.

"Best I join you next time and see what I can do."

"Go on then," she said, egging me on. "I'm sure you'll do it easily," she said, leaving out the bit about how she runs marathons, goes to the gym and is very fit. Unlike my sedentary self.

And so I swam 2.4km, much to her surprise, my surprise and the anti-exercise voice in my head I call No Exercise Esther.

"Goggles leaking!" No Exercise Esther screeched just a few minutes in before settling into "you're never going to make it" on constant repeat.

"Cramp in the foot! Water in the ear! Sore shoulder! Remember what happened last time with the sore shoulder. It took months of acupuncture and chiropractor care to come right. Oh, no, goggles leaking again!"

The din in my head was awful.

"Time to get out of the pool, I've just seen a lifeguard looking like he may be clearing everyone out. Some kid probably dropped a turd. I knew you wouldn't make it."

Which is when I turned her off with a supreme act of willpower, otherwise called humming to yourself while swimming.

"I think your togs are ripping and your arse is about to fall out," she tried one more time before I managed to shut her out and completed the swim.

The runner had given me the thumbs-up signal, which meant the 40 lengths were up and she showered me with praise in the spa pool.

"You are amazing," she said, genuinely pleased for me.

And then she suggested I join her for an upcoming ocean swim.

"You'll need to do some ocean training, but I think you could do it."

I couldn't think of anything worse.

My husband thought it was a wonderful idea and immediately set about planning the support team, giving each of our five children a job.

"Not sure if we'll be water or land based at the moment, but I'll probably be in the kayak keeping an eye on her and giving her the encouragement she needs and you'll be at the start and finish line on shore. We'll be in constant cellphone contact," I heard him say to one of them before asking "can you get waterproof covers for iPhones?" and assigning another child to design the Wet'n Wendyl T-shirts.

At the caravan, I made one attempt at an ocean swim across the estuary and back but caused a minor sea emergency when a passing boat nearly ran me over. What seemed like the entire population of the camping ground assembled on the shore to shout in unison at the boat's captain, alerting him to my presence as I swam on completely unaware of my impending brush with death.

"That was humiliating," I mumbled to my husband.

No Exercise Esther could barely conceal her delight.

And then the runner was on the phone.

"I just did some ocean training, it's very difficult. I'm not sure if you'll be up for it in time," she said.

I'm doing the ocean swim.

* I've had a lot of emails from people asking me about the British shopping website I referred to in last week's column. It is www.asos.com

- NZ Herald

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