Thursday, February 9, 2012

Learning to Swim - AGAIN!

I am learning to swim. Again.

Okay, that's not me. I am shorter, but I think in the water everyone looks long. At least I am hoping I look long in the water.

I first learned to swim when I was a kid. A relative had a pool and she taught all the kids how to swim. The training went something like this - put your face in the water and then kick your legs and move your arms and you will go. And go I did. I would go from side to side and from the diving board to the bottom or the pool and back and forth. 

As a kid I got to water ski with my Uncle John and the swim training involved in that went like this - hang on and ski and then when you fall just float in the water until we pick you up.

As a teenage girl, my swim training went like this - put on a bunch of baby oil and lay on the beach and then when it gets too hot, walk down to the water and without exerting too much energy or messing up 3 feet of straight blond hair, dip down into the water, being careful not to get any salt water on face (didn't want to mess up make-up), and slowly walk back to towel to return to prone position.

Fast forward several years, I mean, LOTS of years and I find myself with women who want to participate in triathlons. I can't really say compete because I am no competition.

My first time in the pool as an ADULT was scary. I did swim, if I dare call it that. I used my kid swim training and put my face in the water and moved my arms and kicked my legs and made it to the other end of the 25-yard gym pool. Then I grabbed the edge and held on. I thought I was going to die. Or throw up. It wasn't pretty.

My husband, who had done several triathlons years earlier, shared his wisdom and advice about swimming. All that did was piss me off. So I went online to and bought a lot of books on swimming and triathlon swimming and easy swimming and fearless swimming and swimming made easy and no-effort swimming. I read them all and practiced and soon I could swim 1,000 yards without dying.

But I did want a nap, a BIG nap! (that's not me either, but that's how I felt after swimming!)

My first few triathlons were sprints and the swim at the end in the pool was always short. I made some progress. I went from freaked out and breast-stroking, to swimming part of the way free-style and then freaking out and backstroking. Finally I was able to free-style the entire 200 yards of a sprint triathlon.

Then I had my first open water swim....well, it was in a bay, but it was salty and there were fish. I peed in my wetsuit, not to warm it up but because I was scared. Don't laugh. I was scared, but I was going to do the 750 meter swim and I was going to do it freestyle, Darn it.
I ended up backstroking.
It was the only way I could breath.

I knew I needed help.
I joined a triathlon club and learned to swim in a lake without having to touch the bottom. But still, I wanted that nap afterward and didn't know how I was ever going to be able to bike and run after a swim. Unless I learned a better way to swim.

So I joined a Masters Swimming for Triathlon class. The lessons are taught by Coach Tony, my coach. Every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Even though we are allowed to swim until 9:30 p.m., so far I get out around 8 p.m.

I am mentally drained.

I can't even remember the way I use to swim.

I can only compare Coach Tony's swim training to mind control. Yes, MIND CONTROL.

For the first few weeks I was not allowed to swim. All I could do was put on my fins and lay on my side and kick down one lap and then up one lap. I would switch sides on each lap. It was night and I would look up into the sky and question why I was doing this. Lap after lap after lap I was looking up into the sky and wondering how this was going to help me be a faster, more efficient swimmer.

Every once in a while I would stop and look up at Coach and he would tell me another thing to fix - put hand down, put arm down, etc. Then he added breathing, then rotating, then lifting an elbow, then breathing and lifting an elbow, then breathing, lifting an elbow and rotating.

Last night, FINALLY, Coach said I was doing it right. PROGRESS! I still have fins on but I am gliding and I swam lap after lap after lap and didn't feel tired at all. Well, just mental fatigue from remembering all the things to do and not to do.

Soon I am going to be able to glide from one end of the pool to the other without my fins, then I am going to be able to glide from one end of the lake to the other without fins. And when that happens I am ripping up my excuse list.

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