Monday, December 10, 2007


I am really excited today and thought I should share this with all of you: I finally had a breakthrough with swimming! Some background: I am not very good at learning things on my own, often needing need some kind of authoritative guide or instructor. And I would like to improve in this regard. So I have been putting off taking swimming lessons so that I could try to figure it out independently.

Today's swim session started out like most: I warmed up, stretched, said, "I'm going to try to swim 3/4 of a mile," failed to do so, coming up gasping for air after just 1/4 of a mile, got frustrated, and stretched more. I was trying to keep my head level, my elbows high, my feet close to the surface... trying to roll my body, trying to generate power from my hips, like the Internet told me to... but I could not figure out how to slow down and swim relaxed, so I was always winded after 10 minutes or so. Then I watched the guy in the next lane over. He had just finished stretching and looked to just be warming up, but he was barely disturbing the water as he swam. His arm motion had an exaggerated finish, his hand slipping into the water like a diver's body, so he was probably doing a form drill. So I thought, "Maybe if I focus on that I'll be more effective."

So I set out to do a quarter mile keying on that, and if I still felt good I'd keep going for another. And I did feel good. After a half mile I realized that for the first time it felt like running: like if I just kept a nice steady pace I could keep going indefinitely. So I decided to keep going and try for my original goal of 3/4 mile. Unfortunately a few laps after that my right calf cramped up, and then as I went to make my next turn my right groin followed in suit. Hydration! I've been really bad about keeping hydrated this fall/winter, and hadn't had any water at all since leaving for the pool on my bike. I also need to work on strength in my calves and groin, which will also help me with cycling. But since I still had to bike over to the grocer and then home with a huge load of food on my back, I figured I should stop there, save my legs, and drink tons of water.

Anyway, I'm pumped! Now I can swim like I can run (except for the part where I'm fast at running)! And now I can start taking lessons without feeling like I'm doing so out of desperation and defeat! And so might actually become good/efficient/fast! Wooooo!


Danielle in Iowa said...

Seriously, the triathlon world isn't going to know what hit them when you start competing! (and the best part about the sprint distance is that the swim is barely any meaningful part of it!)

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice swim Al!! Slow and steady - with hydration - will get you through!!