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Closer to feeling like I belong in the pool

April 28, 2012

I’ve been swimming for several months now, and until very recently always had a lane either entirely to myself or shared with just one other person where we could split the lane in half. Sure, Northwestern’s pool sometimes gets crowded. But that’s a relative term. “Crowded” for an olympic pool that’s not open to the public is still far less busy than the public pools many people train in. Still, I knew I couldn’t avoid sharing a lane forever. And sure enough, just over a week ago two men asked “do you mind if we circle swim with you?”

For as much as I dreaded that moment, it actually was invigorating when it happened. I still don’t feel like I can claim the mantle of calling myself a swimmer — it took me years of running before I would call myself a runner. But I at least I am beginning to feel like I somewhat belong in the pool. After being joined by these two other swimmers, I glanced at the rest of the pool. It was fairly busy with at least one person in every other lane, but few lanes had circle swimming going on yet. There were other lanes with only one person. So they had a choice of which lane to pick. Meaning I looked competent enough for them to choose to share my lane.

I’m not pretending I look like a great swimmer. I’m sure they knew I am really still a novice. And of course they were both faster swimmers than I am. But I’m definitely swimming much more consistently than before. Both my speed and endurance are way up. I can actually get in real workouts when my coach gives me intervals. In fact, when those two men joined me, I was in the middle of an interval workout: 3 x (50 yards, rest 1′, 100 yards, rest 1′, 150 yards), rest 2′ between sets. And I noticed I was getting through my pieces a couple seconds faster after they joined me — guess it was extra motivation to push myself just a little harder.

In January, I could swim 25 yards. I stopped to catch my breath after every length of the pool. Now, I’ve gone up to 200 yards without stopping, and expect to continuously push that non-stop distance. And I feel really good for the first 50 yards of any piece. I feel like I’m swimming a lot cleaner than before. I know as I get tired, my technique quickly slips. But I know more time in the pool will quickly translate to keeping my technique for longer and longer distances. The critical thing is I now have that baseline. I now have that feeling of I can really swim at least a good 50 yards, and I can swim 200 yards that’s not as clean but is with no breaks. And that’s a better place to build from than before.

It’s really been a huge mental boost the past couple weeks. I’ve really felt a mental transition. I’ve gone from feeling like I constantly struggle in the pool to feeling like I’m making slow but real progress. I feel a lot more comfortable saying “yes, I will get through this.” I might not be a fast swimmer come November, but I will be a consistent enough swimmer. And that can only improve with more time in the pool.

204 days till Ironman Arizona.

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From → motivation, swimming

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