Blog

Getting Acclimated

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By: John Mann : October 20, 2012

I hope you enjoyed my first post last week. This week has been rather eventful, a little more than I had expected, in both good and bad ways. Between a car accident, my first game of the season, and the weather change, I have had my hands full. Fortunately, I made it out of the week healthy, happy and still loving my adventure here in Italy!

I am growing more and more accustomed to life in Recco. It is charming, and noticeably peaceful, probably the most striking difference from life back home in Los Angeles. As I mentioned before Recco has a population close to 10,000, which is millions less than most cities I have ever lived in. I fall asleep and wake to sounds that are becoming familiar. Sounds of the crashing sea, the thunderous rumble of the train in the distance, and most recently, the soft tapping of rain. Fall is in full swing, and over the past week the weather and culture have responded accordingly. Shops and cafes seem to close earlier. The cafes and bars that are open are closing their patios, making them appear much less welcoming. Everyday, Recco becomes increasingly peaceful, almost sleepy, primed for hibernation. I will have to wait for Recco to wake again in the spring!

The rain has proven problematic for several reasons, most notably its effect on driving conditions. On my way to training a few days ago, I was traveling down the normal winding coast roads. The roads are exceptionally beautiful on a pretty day, much like the coastal roads in central California. While rounding one of the corners my tires lost grip, I began to hydroplane. For those of you who don’t know the feeling, it is similar to sliding on ice. It is nearly impossible to stop the car with your brakes or steer to avoid collision. Fortunately I was driving at a fairly low rate of speed and at an hour which didn’t have a high volume of traffic. I slowly slid across the road and slammed into the guard-rail. It sounds tame, and it felt tame, until I looked out of my window and saw the 200-foot plunge that I almost made into the sea. The rocky coastline along Liguria has many steep corners like this making it treacherous to drive in poor conditions. Fortunately, I made it out unscathed and feeling a bit lucky after looking at the tires on my car. They were completely out of tread and were surely the cause of my hydroplaning. If I were traveling at a slightly higher rate of speed something far more serious could have happened.

After my Club manager put new tires on my car, my focus shifted to my first game of the year this past Saturday. It marked the first time I had played a game since the Olympics. It felt wonderful to be in the water playing again. My confidence was in full swing Saturday after my realization that I successfully played without re-aggravating a lingering muscle injury that had sidelined me since the Olympics. Surprisingly, my body felt stronger than I had expected, probably due to the large amount of adrenaline and excitement. I only scored one goal, not up to my expectations, but truthfully I am at about 65 percent of my full condition. So, there is a vast amount of improvement in the near future. The next morning I awoke with a huge amount of soreness. My position, Center, is very similar to the same position in basketball. Your back is to the basket or goal and players and the perimeter try to pass it inside for a closer route to a score. The main difference is that I am in the water, and to make things more interesting, the player defending me (sometimes two or three) is/are trying to drown me. Kicking, punching, kneeing, gouging, and biting has all happened to me during my career, it is a violent sport. Hopefully this clears up the cause of my post game soreness.

I look forward to filling you in on my life abroad next week as I compete in my second game of the season and hopefully am able to make a quick overnight trip to visit Milano!

Thanks for reading!

John Mann
USA Olympic Water Polo player