Monday, July 30, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Swimming

Not-so-secretly, I have dropped a few hints that I have been dabbling/dipping into another sport.

First, for anyone who follows me on Twitter, you've probably been annoyed by my Foursquare check-ins to an aquatic center.

I mentioned something about some new goals in my mid-year recap.

Also, there are the Speedos in my Insanity results post, as well as vague mentions of "light cross training in the PM" on some of the weekly update posts.

In spite of my regular forays in the pool nowadays, I have been somewhat trying to not admit to the fact that I've been swimming.  First of all, I used to consider swimming something that only people with money or nice parents who would go out of their way to take their kids to a pool and pay for lessons could do.  I grew up with limited contact with the pool, and in those instances (fewer than I have fingers on my left hand), I remember mostly drowning or something to that effect.  My high school didn't require swimming, and let's face it -- by then, I was afraid of water (I used to have the "drowning dream" a lot, so I rarely cover my head in my sleep).

Later, I decided to take swimming lessons during my college days, since the class was $25 and pool access was free (with my $$ student fees).  Note that I was swimming in regular shorts and a Target swimming tankini (??) I got as a gift.  By the end of the 10 weeks, I was able to kind of get to the end of a 3-foot deep pool, but that was astronomical.  For years after that, I never really retained that level of comfort, so as I started to encounter more pools, I just waded in them.

A few months ago, a local beginners' triathlon caught my eye.  I have never been into this sport, nor do I believe at all that people who do them are any more unique, athletic or hardcore than others -- richer, maybe -- but NOT more athletic.  However, for some reason, one made it on my "bucket list" a while back, and I am considering following through, even if I finish toward the end.  With this in mind, I bought some Speedos (Big 5 sale, w00t!) and paid my way into a recreational pool and had issues in finding comfort in the 3.5-foot side.  "The Ukrainian" started to join me and spent a short amount of time teaching me the breaststroke and helping me remember what little free-styling I learned in college.  Then, he convinced me to start swimming in the lanes.  I go maybe once a week for about half an hour before closing -- not a lot of time, but it's all I've got (because of my schedule and the fact that the pool is mostly very crowded, ew).

I still don't think I can make it 50 meters without coughing up a lung, but I am definitely more comfortable and can go back and forth in the 25-meter lanes.  My form sucks, and I can't frog-kick consistently yet.  Oh, and don't put me in water deeper than 5 feet -- just a psychological thing because I never learned how to tread water and stop myself once I start panicking.  But it's a start, and I've also been practicing running in my swimming suit, and I already own a basic (not road) bike.  Good enough?

I'm reading this Complete Idiot's Guide to Swimming, which talks about all the essential and non-essential gear you need to swim and breaks down the popular strokes (breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, etc.) while pointing out common errors.  It also contains photos of real swimmers from the top and side, showing each movement.  Normally, when I see one of these "idiot"-type books, I always think they are too basic, but in this case, I need EVERYTHING I can get!!  =P  So far, I've been trying to follow the little tips on the strokes I already "know," such as making sure my toes stay pointed -- until they are committed to my muscle memory.  Now if only it could psych me out of my fear of deep water..... though, I'm pretty sure that's something beyond what a book should promise, right?!

Still no race sign-up yet.  Not sure if I'm ready, and I'm not going to push it if I don't feel entirely or even mostly sure I can make it.  Triathlons are not cheap, especially due to the extra $10 you need to pay as a one-day "license" to do one of those.  Either way, I'm getting some good exercise and learning to face some of my worst fears.

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of this book and was not compensated to provide any particular opinion about it.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about your FS check-ins on Twitter. Fun! I think I may have been a fish in another life. This is also probably why as an adult I had to have a pool in my first house. Exercise bike, treadmill and pool...sprint tris without leaving the house. Boring for some, but perfect for my busy/crazy schedule and back issues.