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Jan. 17, 2012 – Swim test? Oh, OK, no problem. I can do a swim test. After all, I was known to be a bit of a fish back in the day. (Meaning that I used to swim like a fish, not drink like one . . . ) How hard can the swim test be? Fifteen minutes of treading water and a 100-metre swim with a personal flotation device (PFD). Got it. This is a requirement of the OFC Ice Water Rescue course, which I’m doing this weekend through a joint training initiative.

January 17, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg


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Jan. 17, 2012 – Swim test? Oh, OK, no problem. I can do a swim test. After all, I was known to be a bit of a fish back in the day. (Meaning that I used to swim like a fish, not drink like one . . . ) How hard can the swim test be? Fifteen minutes of treading water and a 100-metre swim with a personal flotation device (PFD). Got it. This is a requirement of the OFC Ice Water Rescue course, which I’m doing this weekend through a joint training initiative.

I showed up at the pool 30 minutes early, towel and bathing suit in hand. Despite my mother’s good intentions, I had decided to pass on the bathing cap and take the chance that my recently dyed blonde hair won’t go green due to the pool chemicals. I met the other firefighter doing the test in the parking lot and off we went to find the pool and get ourselves ready.
An officer from our department showed up with the required PFDs for us to do the swim portion with. The smallest size our department has is a medium. (For any of you parents out there, just imagine your child in a life jacket that’s too big for them, with it sitting up around their chin and squishing their face. That’s pretty much what I looked like.)

The instructor appeared shortly thereafter and after signing some paperwork, we were ready to go. “Do you want to do the swim test first or tread water first?” he asked us. Fellow firefighter and I looked at each other and he said swim. The instructor looked at me and said, “What do you want to do first?” I kind of shrugged and replied, “We have to do both so it doesn’t really matter to me.” He looked at us in a way that would lead one to think that maybe they should be rethinking their choice, however, we didn’t.

Life jackets on and in the pool we went, ready to start the test. My self-talk went something like this: “100 metres with a life jacket on. Right. I can do this. I love to swim. Not a big deal. And thank goodness the water is warm ‘cause it would suck if it were cold. OK, here we go. I’m cool with this!”

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The mouthful of water I got while doing my lengths though? Not so cool. Tasted like salt. Blech. It was a little difficult with a life jacket on that was too big, but that’s kind of the point. It’s not supposed to be easy. For any of you that have worn the gumby suits, you know how cumbersome they can be. And by the end of the 100 metres, I was starting to feel it, I’ll admit. (I blame on it the life jacket . . . ha ha!)

Off went the life jacket; time to tread water. Again, not really worried because I use to swim all the time as a kid. What I had apparently forgotten was that I don’t really swim now, as an adult! Let me tell you, at the end of the 15 minutes, I was feeling the burn in my arms! And I believe my fellow firefighter (who is probably half my age and twice as strong) felt it too. He said he had been planning on working out afterwards but was rethinking it while we were in the midst of our 15 minutes of treading water. I, on the other hand, was planning on staying and doing lengths since I was already there, but changed my mind abruptly. (I reasoned that this was a good enough workout for one day for an ol’ girl like me . . . )

Oh, and the look the instructor gave us when we chose to do the swim portion first? He said that if the guys in the other group he had tested had chosen to do the 100-metre swim first, some of them wouldn’t have passed. Apparently we saved the hardest part for last, making it harder on us.
Oh well, we both passed, so as long as it’s not -20 this weekend, I’m happy! I’ll keep you posted!

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