This morning was my first time back in the pool in over a week because I had gone on a short vacation. And unlike running while on vacation, it’s not as easy to get a swim workout in while out-of-town. My only “water” options were the incredibly wavy Atlantic Ocean or the lazy river pool at the hotel. Neither, getting wiped out by the undercurrents of the ocean or getting run over by a suburban family on their tubes in the pool, appealed to me, so I thought it best to skip trying to swim while I was away.
Brian and I went to the pool this morning and got started around 5:15 am. A big shout out to Brian for getting up with me, as he is NOT a morning person. But I knew I wouldn’t be very productive on my own and I needed the additional support to get me out the door. Plus, Brian’s been really helpful in showing me some additional drills to do while in the pool, so his coaching would be helpful after my mini-hiatus.
After a few laps of “front breathing” with the kick board and two pool buoys, it was time to try my hand at breathing to the side again. I had been trying it before I went on vacation and had varying degrees of success. I figured it would take a while to get back in the swing of things again, but I couldn’t stall any longer, and it was now time to turn my head and breathe (not to be confused with the gentlemen’s turn your head and cough routine!).
I did a few lengths holding onto the kick board with one hand and then when it’s time to breathe, instead of lifting my head up in front of me, I bring my arm back to my side and I rotate slightly and then breathe on the side. I executed it fine once or twice and then I’d get anxious and swallow water. But for the most part, it was going “okay”. But I wanted to try more.
Why I got so ambitious so early in the morning, I’m not sure, but I ditched the kick board and proceeded to move (not swim, I was simply moving in the water) in the water trying to actually use my flippers on feet and my arms – no kick board or pool buoys. I managed to do a few SLOPPY strokes… but I did it! It was far from pretty. But it had all the elements I needed to work on. I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help (other than flippers), I was kicking, I was breathing to the side and I was using my arms. Hot damn! I did this a few more lengths before I decided to up the ante one more time. So I dropped the flippers.
Okay, here goes nothing…
I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help, I was kicking without flippers, I was breathing to the side and I was using my arms. OMG! OMG! OMG!
I made it only about 3/4 length of the pool. But I made it!!
Let’s recap this for a second and let it sink in….
- I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help
- I was kicking without flippers
- I was breathing to the side
- I was using my arms.
By George, I think they call that swimming! And trust me, I wasn’t sure because I had to ask Brian.
After getting done with a less-than-pretty length in the pool (and yes I did have to stop half-way), I looked at Brian and I asked, “Am I swimming?!?!”
I tried it a few more lengths and I didn’t do so well. It’s so much harder without flippers on. I feel like I’m sinking. And when I feel like I’m sinking, I feel like I’m drowning. And when I feel like I’m drowning, I panic. And that’s never good. I swallow water and I cough a lot. Actually this morning it was so bad that I caught the attention of the lifeguards. One actually came over to me and asked if I was okay and if she could bring me a cup of water. Which was basically her way of saying, “what the hell are you doing, you’re not drowning on my watch!”
My sinking/drowning panic came from not going fast enough to truly propel myself through the water and to float on top of the water. I’ve been going so slow to learn (when using the help of floatation devices) and I’m also now so focused on my arms (and my breathing, and my leg placement and a million other things people have tried to teach me) that I am used to going slow to try to do it correctly. But going slow means sinking. So I could no longer go slow and instead I needed to increase my speed. I tried so hard to kick as fast as I could to stay afloat. I swear I was like a cartoon character, just spinning my little legs.
After a lap of “so-so” progress (and yes, this is the lap where the lifeguard offered me water) I decided not to push it and to stop while I was ahead. Because so-so progress is better than no progress. And while I have a LONG way to go, right now I’m going to try to be positive (which is super tough for me) and not think about how far I have to go, but instead think about how far I come. And god dammit, I’ve come a long fricken way!
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)