Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swimming 101

I swam this morning. It was really more an exercise of humility, more so than endurance. See, I have visions of grandeur of becoming a triathlete and I think that this vision often overshadows reality. The main problem with reality is that I can't swim. Well, that's not entirely true - I can swim just about enough to keep myself from drowning, but it's not pretty.

So, that is why it has taken me two months to work up the resolve to actually get in the pool. I went at a time this morning when there was only two other people in the pool. I settled into the very last lane of the pool, on the opposite end of the lifeguard and two other swimmers. I arranged my towel, shorts, flip flops and water bottle neatly on the bleachers, makings sure that everything was neat and orderly and positioned at right angles. You can ask my husband - this is what I do when I am anxious and let my OCD tendencies start to take over. Just about everything in our house is positioned at a right angle. After I had arranged and rearranged my neat little pile of things, I realized that I just needed to get in the pool and get it over with. I tried as much as I could to act like I knew what I was doing. I dunked my head under water and then pulled on my swim cap and goggles. I didn't really want to wear the swim cap, but my hope was that it would make me look like I was serious about swimming and that I had some idea of what I was doing. I took a deep breath, immersed myself, pushed off the wall and started down the lane, under the surface.

If I had established any shred of credibility with the other two swimmers and lifeguard with the cap and goggles, it was shot to hell right about the time I realized I desperatley needed air and I shot up like a rocket from under the water - gasping for breath, limbs flailing wildy. I immediatley looked over to the lifeguard, hoping that she hadn't seen me struggling and was getting ready to jump in and pull me out of the pool. She was definitley looking at me, but she looked more perplexed than concerned. I quickly looked back down at the water and started a slow, pulling stroke. I'm not sure if it even has a name other than "the oldy lady stroke" you know, it's the one where your head is above water and you move your arms like you are clearing a path in front of you...the one you usually see old ladies doing. Sadly, it's the one and only stroke that I am pretty good at. So I pretty much did that stroke for 30 minutes - moving slowly up and down the lane. I did try adding in some other things - like trying the breast stroke with my head above water so that I could establish a breathing pattern, or trying to do a lap only kicking my feet.

So I have a lot of work to do with my swimming. I can only hope that any triathlons I do will have open water swims, as I cannot even imagine ever being able to do a kick flip. The risk of getting water up my nose and/or slamming my head into the wall is too great.

I will stick to training on land until next Tuesday, when me and the pool shall meet again .

On a different note, I will be racing in a 3k this Saturday. I'm really excited about it - I have only done one other 3k, and that was one I did with Emma. Emma and I got third place overall in that race, and I would like to think our success was due to our speed...not the fact that there were only 10 other people competing in the race, most of which walked the course. But this Saturday I will be doing the "Shamrock Shuffle" in downtown Lexington with some friends. I will try to get a race report up this weekend!


jen said...

Oh my gosh!! I am sorry, but your story is so funny- very well-written! I can say that I think because I can completely relate! I learned to swim in January 2007 and my first time in the pool sounds exactly like this.

First of all, yay for facing the pool! Getting in is the first step.

The way I went from flailing to swimming was that my husband was very patient and spent the first couple sessions helping me figure out how to breathe. Do you have someone you can recruit? Otherwise, consider just taking a lesson! Swimming is one of those things you want to learn to do "right" from the beginning, otherwise you're just practicing bad form. I also recommend the book Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin.

I have no doubt you'll be a successful triathlete soon. Keep up the good work!! :)

Michelle said...

Hey I swim like that- I didn't know it was for old ladies. DANG!!!

This is so funny! You can do it Mer-Mer!!!

We miss you and love you very much!