Omg. Omg. Omg. I did it. I breathed in the pool yesterday!!!!!!!
Here’s what happened.
After being in the pool on Wednesday, I was feeling pretty low. Really, really low. I was damn near ready to throw in the towel. As I was telling friends, my inability to breathe is such an incredibly horrible feeling. I mean people’s worst fears often times involve not being able to breathe, and here I am trying to learn to do so, and not succeeding. Time and time again, I try to breathe and I can’t. So it’s like I’m realizing my worst fear over and over again. No wonder I hate getting in the pool. It’s horrible. It’s the worst feeling in the world.
But thanks to my nagging friend Nicole I decided to get in the pool again on Saturday and give it another shot. And I call Nicole a nagging friend not as an insult, but as the true friend that she is. She’s one of the few friends that has known me long enough to know my quirks and emotional/mental hangups, is willing to call me on my bullshit, slap the excuses out of my head and hold me accountable. And I love her for it! Everyone needs a friend like her. And the reason Nicole knows my hangups so well is that we are very similar. Not in regards to swimming – actually we are polar opposite when it comes to swimming. She is a stellar swimmer who had a collegiate swimming scholarship offered to her! No, we are similar in our how we think and feel. I know her issues and she knows mine and we aren’t afraid to call bullshit on each other.
So I went to the pool with my husband on Saturday and when I got into the pool, he suggested I try to shorten my breathing a bit because he said when he tried to swim as I had described to him the way I was trying to swim, based on what the instructor told me, he too was popping up out of the water and unable to breathe. So, I tried to shorten my breathing a bit. While I wasn’t fully succeeding and breathing, it was better than Wednesday. I still couldn’t make it a full length of the pool, but I was getting closer. So I felt okay with my effort.
I sent Nicole a text after I got out of the pool and I told her how I did and that it went okay. To which she quickly congratulated me and then followed it up with, “so what’s your frequency plan for the next week, when are you getting back in the pool?” Ugh! Damn, you Nicole for holding me accountable!!! But I know better than to mess with Nicole, she won’t leave me alone until she knows I’m getting in the pool 3-4 times a week – which is what she recommended (yet I was doing only once or twice on a good week). So I told Nicole I’d go again on Sunday. Crap… I totally didn’t want to go on Sunday.
Sunday rolls around and I do my regular workout at the Y and now it’s time to head into the pool. And of course the pool area was jammed packed. The activity pool is filled with kids and their parents and 3 out of 4 swim lanes in the lap pool were already occupied. I knew I had to hurry up and get that last remaining swim lane because I really didn’t want to have to share a lane with someone and I didn’t want to tell Nicole I didn’t get in the pool!
Besides not being able to swim, I have issues with almost every aspect of swimming. I hate wearing a suit, so I actually wear a “tri suit” that is long spandex shorts and a racer tank top. So right off the bat I look different from everyone else in the pool. Then I have the whole swim cap thing. I have a lot of hair. It’s long and it’s thick and it doesn’t fit nicely under a swim cap. I put my hair in a bun and try to fit my cap on over it best I can. But I look like a cone head. Seriously, I do. The “cone” seems to get bigger and bigger. It’s actually so big that it pulls the cap off of my head. I’m constantly readjusting my swim cap because it keeps coming off because I can’t seem to fit it over the bun/cone. And then there’s the goggles I wear. I have a really sensitive eye area and the traditional swim goggles leave HORRIBLE marks around my eyes. All goggles leave some marks, but nothing like what I had. When my husband saw the marks left by the goggles he literally gasped out loud and followed up his gasp with… “we need to get you new goggles”. So the goggles I now wear don’t just sit on my eye sockets, they are much larger and cover more of my face. They look more like snorkeling goggles – but they aren’t. But needless to say I’m pretty self-conscious about them. Them along with my non-traditional swim suit and my huge cone head… I just exude confidence as I head into the pool (sarcasm inserted here). But I head in with my kick board nonetheless. Yep, I’m a really pretty sight.
Seriously, I wanted to die. I couldn’t have felt more uncomfortable if I tried.
I started off with doing a few laps of the back stroke. I was telling myself I was warming up, but really I was just procrastinating. I was delaying flipping over onto my stomach to try to breathe. Again, as I mentioned earlier, it’s such a horrible feeling not being able to breathe so I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
But beyond just worrying about how I looked and not breathing, I was also worried about having to share a lane with someone else if another person wanted to use the lap pool. And I figured if I was only doing the backstroke, I would be an easy person to share a lane with – and I didn’t want to share. So my need to have my personal space won out over my stalling and I decide to get the kick board and practice breathing.
I did one length of the pool and it went okay.
I did the final length of the pool and completed the first lap. And again, it went okay.
Huh?! What’s going on? I don’t understand this phenomenon. The ability to go for more than 10 feet without stopping?! It’s weird, unusual and completely foreign to me.
I waited – like a kid afraid to scare the stray kitten. I didn’t want to rush doing another length of the pool in case my first lap was a fluke. I waited because I didn’t want to burst my bubble and I knew I surely couldn’t do it twice. It was just a matter of time before I tried again and I failed. So I was once again stalling.
But here goes nothing… I swam the length of the pool.
And I did it. I made it the whole way.
I stopped at the end of the pool before swimming back to catch my breath but also out of shock. I couldn’t believe I made length number three!
Okay, here I go, length number four coming up.
Oh dear god, I made it!
Four lengths or two laps!! OMG!
I decided to keep the momentum going. I rested for less than 15 seconds and I went again. This time when I got to the end of the pool, I didn’t rest, I came right back. When I finished that lap, I went again. And again.
OH. MY. GOD. I JUST WENT 5 LAPS! AND THE LAST 3 LAPS, I DIDN’T STOP AND I WAS ABLE TO BREATHE!!
I was giddy. I still am!
I was daring myself to go again but I was running late and I also didn’t want to push my luck. So I got out of the pool after having completed 5 laps with the kick board and with breathing. I went back to the locker room having had the biggest breakthrough since I started It was huge and what I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not “swimming”. Hell, I can’t even turn my head to the side or drop the kick board. But I’m breathing. At least for one day. I did it! I now have a bit more confidence to get back into the pool – oversized goggles, cone head and all! I now want to try again. I want to master breathing and then I want to move on to the next step. I finally had a “win” in the pool. It’s not much for other people – but for me – I finally felt like I hadn’t wasted 3 months of my life. I had a tiny glimmer of hope given to me. Now instead of wanting to quit, I want to get back in the pool.
I want to do this. I want to swim!
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)