My Swimming Journey

It all started back in July 2009. I didn’t know how to swim freestyle. I could doggie paddle, splash around as to not drown and back float but that was about it. I thought I knew how to breast stroke but didn’t know the official way to do it. I took a lesson from a college student at a local recreation center. She explained the proper way to breast stroke (actually putting your head under the water). She tried to show me freestyle but it just wasn’t taking.

I had already signed up for my very first triathlon, the Tri for the Cure. One of the driving forces that made me sign up for it was that I had been doing duathlons and I heard from several people that they thought triathlons were easier because you were not having to run, bike, run…you got a break with the swimming leg. So there I was…3 weeks out from the triathlon that I had signed up for without knowing how to swim. I swam the whole swim leg doing breast stroke (above and below water). It took me 27 minutes and 31 seconds to swim 750 meters.

The next year (2010) I decided that I was going to do the same race (Tri for the Cure) but do it differently (duh). I joined a wonderful athletic club, got a coach (fabulous coach) and took lessons twice a week during the months of June and July. My tri was set for August. I would also swim 1-2 days on my own trying to learn the lessons that my coach taught me earlier in the week. He was the best and most patient person at helping me to swim. I was so happy the first time I was able to swim from one end of the pool to the other without stopping (25 meters)! I know that sounds silly but it was definitely baby steps for me when it came to swimming. By the time the race came around I was able to swim 2 laps without stopping. My breast stroke had improved as well so I knew I could fall back on it if needed (which I did!). I did better but only swam about 30% of the race using freestyle the rest was breast stroke. It took me 21:01 this year to complete the 750 meters.

I decided that I was not going to let this swimming thing beat me! I usually pick up sports fairly easy but swimming was giving me a big challenge. I decided I would hit the pool ALL winter long in order to be ready for the next years race. I swam 2-3 days each week for the entire fall and winter. My improvements were very small and my motivation was slightly waning but I didn’t want to give up what I had already learned. Magically, at the beginning of Spring I started to get it. My breathing started to get easier and I started connecting laps easier. I specifically remember the day that I came home to tell hubby that I had swam 6 laps without stopping! Such a big day for me. I was getting crazy now and signed up for 3 triathlons during the summer. I was committed!

I signed up for the Windsor Pelican Fest Triathlon which was in May (Brrrrr). I had never swam in a wetsuit so I purchased my very first one (Zoot Fuzion full sleeve). I went up to Windsor the weekend before the race to test out the waters and the race director had met some of us there to go over open water basics. We got into the 57 degree water and I instantly got an “ice cream headache”. It was awful…I started questioning my decision to do this. The race director (she was wonderful) taught us to don our wetsuits, warm up before the race, and run into the water. I learned a lot that day and I’m very appreciative of her help. The race was the next weekend and the water had warmed up to a balmy 61 degrees. I ended up doing about half of the race freestyle and the rest, well, you know, breast stroke. Covered the 800 meters in 21 minutes and 23 seconds. Improvement.

In June 2011, I discovered the open water swimming at the local reservoir. Me and my happy little wetsuit checked it out. The first day I couldn’t swim more than about 50-60 meters without stopping to breast stroke for a while. I had a professional triathlete and a collegiate swimmer with me so I was in good hands. They both gave me the most helpful advice and almost instantly changed my open water swim techniques. I’m still swimming with them and they are helping me to improve with each and every stroke.

By the time my second tri (Boulder 5430 Sprint) of the season came around I was prepared (something I had not felt in past races). I swam the whole thing freestyle and was falling in love with open water swimming! Did it in 18:46. My best time yet.

The next race (Boulder Peak) was an Olympic distance race so I would be swimming 1500 meter for the first time in a race. I had practiced it at the reservoir so I felt ready. Everything clicked! I got away from the other swimmers and swam on the outside. I got into the rhythm that I had done during practices. My breathing was steady, my pace solid, and I was not panicking. Accomplished the swim in 38:20. Not bad.

Started swimming 2000+ meters at the reservoir and couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it from week to week. When I realized that it was about the same distance as a half Ironman I started contemplating “could I?” “should I?”.  I found a local race called an Aquabike which is a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike. It’s basically 2/3 of a 1/2 Ironman. Ha. This sounded great and I signed up right away! Well the race is slated to happen in just a little over 3.5 weeks. I have a 1500 meter swim scheduled tomorrow and a 2000 meter swim for the next day. My training is going well and I have high hopes for the race! I’ll just have to blog about it afterwards.

I also am forever indebted to each and every person that has helped me along my swimming journey. They will always stand out in my memory and they won’t be forgotten!


~ by willtriforbeer on August 16, 2011.

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