Swimming 101

Maybe I should title this post Remedial Swimming.  That is what I feel like I need.  I’m pretty sure there are 6 year olds who could school me in swimming.  But, it is the only exercise I can do right now.  And I need to be able to do something.  So I might as well learn how to swim.  That way I can be all ready for a triathlon once I am healed and ready to run again.

I am fortunate to have friends who do know how to swim.  My friend Mindy was a swimmer in high school and has done quite a few triathlons, including a couple Ironmans.  She’s hard core…and perfect to teach me how to swim.

The first night, I jumped in the water and quickly realized how awful I am at this sport.  I couldn’t even make it from one end of the pool to the other without getting water in my nose and almost drowning.  I would get 3/4 of the way down the pool and I would be hyperventilating because I couldn’t regulate my breathing. 

My friend, Angela suggested I use a little buoy between my legs to help keep my hips up.  Mindy said I shouldn’t kick my legs so much, and to keep my knees straight and kick from the hip.  I still ended up snorting water.  When I finally made it from one end of the pool to the other without stopping, it was occasion to celebrate.  I think I managed to make it two or three more times without having to stop.  Minor victories.

My second night in the pool went a little better.  I grabbed the same buoy and a pair of flippers.  I alternated with the buoy and the flippers and just me.  The different devices helped me work on different things.  I still ended up with a ton of water in my nose, and in my ears, but I was much more consistent in getting from one end of the pool to the other.

My biggest problem is that there is just so much technique involved.  And I can only remember one thing at a time!  I have to keep my hips up and my chest down and my eyes looking down and rotate my body with each stroke and kick from the hips and—oh yeah—breathe!  The anxiety of not breathing effectively makes it much harder to remember everything else I’m supposed to do.  And it is depressing to watch the other swimmers who seem to glide so effortlessly across the water.  They don’t have to stop and catch their breath every time they get to the wall.

The other thing that is really challenging is remembering how many laps I’ve swam (swum? swimmed?).  I need to find some sort of device to keep track.  I believe that the high school pool where we swim is 25 yards.  I am such a data nerd that I like to keep track of things like this.  I always know how many miles I run or bike and I would like to keep track of the distance I swim. 

The third night in the pool was even better.  My friend Mindy met me there with a workout she wrote for me.  I had done 300 yards before she got there (I managed to keep track of that!).  She had some drills for me to do to practice my positioning in the water.  I did 4×25 of four different drills.  That is basically down-and-back twice.  Each time I got to the wall, I rested and caught my breath. 

I think the drills really helped me with consciously keeping my hips higher in the water.  I wore the flippers so I didn’t have to work quite as hard.  That made the breathing a little easier too.  Between the laps I did before she got there, and the workout that she wrote for me, I managed to do 900 yards.  Not too bad. 

I think I am going to get a nose plug.  The water in my nose is the worst part of swimming.  I think the nose plug will help to alleviate some of my anxiety and give me one less thing to focus on (since I can only focus on one thing at a time).  I don’t know if I will use it long term, but I think it will help until I get more comfortable.

I love the new goggles I ordered (thanks, Amazon Prime).

I had to change out the nose piece, which was more of a challenge than I thought it would be.  I felt like I was going to break them.  But, they fit really well.  They didn’t fog up and they were really clear.  I still look like I have a black eye when I take them off because of how tight they fit, but at least they don’t leak and that is the most important thing.

I am hoping to get back in the pool two or three days next week.  Does anybody else swim?  What are your tips for keeping the water out of my ears and nose?


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