|I think of this Me Gusta face during swimming and I smile underwater. Try swimming with a smile - it helps!|
In early July, I started piddling about with swimming laps for fitness. I always held that one should supplement one's health insurance with preventive care; I remember in college at UCI, one of my friends, Dave Nobel, was on the swim team and he was fond of saying that the best health insurance was to live healthily. Unfortunately, I don't always practice what I preach and need to readjust now and then.
But I am 51 years old and while "back in the day" I was a runner, my left knee would leave me for another body if I tried putting that stress on her again. So I figured some low-impact exercise was needed and that led me to join the local YMCA and get in the pool.
I spent most of July half-heartedly swimming. I learned that 18 laps in the 25-yard pool was one half-mile, so I started aiming for that, but swimming a combination of the side stroke, back stroke, and elementary back stroke (I still remember a dream I had as a young woman, where I had won the bronze medal for the elementary backstroke at the Olympics, but I could not find the venue for the medal ceremony, and I was in a phone booth in Paris asking someone on the other side, Où est la bibliothèque?). Which, frankly, gets you wet but not much else, fitness-wise. But I liked the fact that it did get me in the water and - since I was going through a phase of hot flashes - if one occurred, the water kept me cooled.
So on August 1st, I decided, go big or go home. By that time two things had happened: I had worked up to a mile and I was doing a combination of side stroke, freestyle, and back stroke. As I mentioned in this blog before, my friend Jason clued me into the Total Immersion technique of swimming, which amazed me when I tried it and found out I could actually swim the length of the pool without gasping like a landed marlin. I bought Terry Laughlin's book and DVD and practiced.
I also made my goal that by the end of the month, the side stroke would be gone. It is a resting stroke and great to stretch out, but I wanted the substance of my workout to be freestyle and back stroke. If I could just do that, I would not care how long I took to finish that mile. Which I also vowed to do every day.
Today is September 1st. How did I do?
Well, to begin, except for a couple of days, I have gone to the Y every day. And each time, I swam 1800 yards, which is 1.02 mile.
I used to pause at the end of each pool length. Earlier this week, I watched a video about transitioning and started incorporating a sort of open turn (no, not perfect yet). I realized that I wasn't pausing to catch my breath - my breathing is fine. I was pausing to worry over technique - was my body aligned right, was I doing something wrong with my head? I decided that I was over thinking the problem and that there was no reason why I could not correct myself while swimming. Yes, I know, simple right?
Yes - and yesterday, on the last day of the month, I swam freestyle for one mile without stopping in 50 minutes.
1. Continue improving form and technique.
2. Reduce mile to 40 minutes.
3. Buy a new swim cap for autumn (hey, come on, I need some sort of easy goal).
4. Check out the Greater Knoxville Masters Swimming. I think it may be time for some coaching.
I know I will be on the road this week and unable to get to a pool everyday, so I will take a rest for several days. I can honestly say, I look forward to my "hydrotherapy," as I call it. Man, I have no trouble falling asleep at night. And I get excited putting on the cap and goggles. It has gotten to a point where the site of an empty pool, with water all still and glassy, makes me want to dive in.
Wish me luck for September.