Thursday, September 14, 2006
I know from reading triathlete blogs that a lot of tri newcomers are pretty spooked by swimming. And even if they're not freaked out by the idea of swimming, it's not something they look forward to doing. Much better to get out the bike or lace up the running shoes.
I've got to admit I don't fit into that camp. Swimming's never been something I've worried about, and I've always loved getting into the water. Now, swim training -- that's a whole different animal.
At various times in my life I've swum laps for fitness. Once or twice a week I'd head to the pool in my baggy swim trunks and splash up and down the lane lines. 400 yards? A hell of a good workout!
It all changed when I took the plunge and started swimming with the Masters class at my gym. They were encouraging and patient as I brought up the rear of the circle swim, and didn't laugh when leg cramps made me thrash around like a shark had attacked me. To make it more interesting, I was the only guy in the class. Fortunately my ego didn't take too much of a bruising by being beaten like a drum by a bunch of fast women.
A year or so out, it's fun to look back at that. Somewhere along the way it all started to click. No one's ever going to mistake me for an elite swimmer (far from it!), but now a 2500 yard workout seems pretty reasonable, and my distance and speed are improving all the time. Experienced swimmers will tell you that technique and strength go hand in hand. And it's true -- the better your technique the more you can swim, and the more you swim, the stronger you get.
Sometimes the improvement is slow, and sometimes it comes quickly. Sooner or later though, you push off from the wall and everything just feels right. You glide, one stroke leading into another, like you belong in the water. Liquid Zen.
It's a great feeling.
As always, check out my training log if you're interested.