Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Time Swimming

"Swimming is the worst part of a triathlon, 
if you stop pedaling on a bike you coast. 
If you stop running, you walk, but if 
you stop swimming you drown." 

When I tell people I want to do a triathlon, most of them agree and say that'd be awesome. When I invite them to do it with me, they almost all say, "Oh, I would, but I can't swim." 

What is it with swimming?? Why does this one event cause such an alarm in people?  As a child, I could (and did) swim for hours. I had some ear problems, so I always had to wear dorky ear plugs, but aside from that, most summers I was completely water logged. What is it about being an adult that makes us lose that energy and love for the water?? 

I know why. Because it's freaking hard. 

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we lose that "swimming is the best thing in the world" innosense. I'm not sure when that happens, I'll have to do some research. But swimming as adult isn't normally regarded as "fun." Fears of others seeing you in a swimsuit surface (check), you weigh more, so of course that means you are  probably going to sink (double check) and of course, you can't remember anything from childhood swim lessons so the sight of you in a pool looks slightly like a fish out of water. Gasping, panting and wondering why in the world you are doing this. (triple check).   

This was me this morning as I embarked on entering the pool for my first day of swimming. {sigh} Where to start......  about a month ago, my husband started swimming for exercise. Since he knew I also wanted to swim, he bought me a good pair of goggles. So I dug out my suit, grabbed my goggles, and set out a towel. Everything was ready when the alarm went off at 5:30am. 

I was excited. "I'm going to do this," I thought. When I got there I said a quick prayer for my survival. I haven't swam in years. And I mean years. Sure, I've been in a pool, on a lake and in the ocean, but in none of those had I actually "swam."

I got to the gym, only to find the pool locked. Further investigation showed me that the pool doesn't actually open until 6:15am, unlike the gym that opens at 6. I wished I had brought some workout clothes to kill some time, but I was dressed in a swimsuit, sweat pants and a zip up hoodie, complete with thin socks and old sneakers (I couldn't find my new, good ones while I was stumbling around this morning). So I sat. I sat in the locker room and just waited. Finally, around 6:20, the pool opened. 

I was the only one there. Me and the life guard. Oh gee- this was going to be fun. 

The next 15 minutes I'm sure I gave the lifeguard the laugh of her week. Me trying to swim. At one point I decided it was a good idea to take off the goggles and put them back on. Why? I don't know. 

Lesson 1 learned: Once you are actually in the water- Don't take off your goggles.    

They were great goggles, the suction was excellent, they never clouded. But because I took them off, the water droplets on the lenses were annoying. 

I also realized I have no idea how to swim. I tried the forward crawl, yeah, I about drowned myself as I also don't know how to breathe. I'm also scared to get my face wet. I did some on my back, yeah, I almost ran into the wall. I tried a doggie paddle type something.... an underwater swim... and anything else I could think of to keep afloat.  After each length (25 yards) I had to rest for several minutes. It didn't help that there were 2 fantastic swimmers next to me who obviously knew what they were doing. A few months ago, I took a peek at the pool and saw a gray haired woman with swim weights and looking like she was struggling for life- where was she today?? 

I tried to ignore the excellent swimmers next to me... and the lifeguard... and the fact that I looked like a MORON and continue. I can tell this is going to take a lot of practice. I swam back and forth 4 times. So that's 200 yards. Not too bad for a first try. 

I was so exhausted after it that I could hardly stand to get out of the pool. Whomever said Michael Phelps was the greatest Olympian ever, was right. I have a renewed appreciation for him, Ryan Lochte, Rebecca Soni, Missy Franklin and every other swimmer out there. The fact that they can even survive a training session is an accomplishment all in itself. The fact that they swim an entire race on the amount of time it took me to get to one end of the pool is simply mind boggling. 

When I got home, my husband said, "Wow- you are back early." Ummm... apparently I was only in the pool for about 12 minutes. The gym opened at 6am. The pool opened at 6:20 and by 6:38 I was back in my car. I think I'm going to have to make these workouts last a little longer. 

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