Stories of a Triathlon Training Dabbler and Swimming Lessons Survivor
October 14th marked the first day after the Chicago marathon, the last marathon I will be doing for a while, and marked the first day of my new adventure in triathlon training. After a tour of the Jewish Community Center, I decided to join because of the great reputation the pool had along with its one “infamous” swim instructor. My first few trips to the pool were good. I managed to eek out 400 yards, 500 yards, and 800 yards during the first week. I was told several times, once by a lifeguard and once by a guy named Clark who was swimming next to me one day, that I was not a good swimmer. I appreciated the feedback because the truth does not offend me! Mike, the lifeguard, told me I should come to a Master’s Swimming lesson, but I chose to go a different route.
For years, training a woman named Angie, she motivated me to hire this “infamous” instructor named Ann, who has worked with all four of her children. She has raved about her since I began discussing my ambitions to learn how to swim. A couple weeks into my solo swimming escapades, I finally got a hold of Ann and set up a time to meet. Talking to her on the phone, I knew she would be a good fit. She was to the point, making swimming seem more black and white instead of this gray and scary place I never wanted to go. I hope to be like her someday! It was also the time between the phone call we had and the next time I was in the pool alone that I had actual only swam half of the distance I thought. This was going to be a long road!
My first lesson started with me telling her my story that made me fearful of deep water. She had a similar one. She then assured me that if she could do it, then so could I. She gathered that I can be rather competitive and told me not to be a hero in our first few sessions. We started by getting my face in the water and pushing off the wall with my feet with my arms together straight out in front of me. I like to swallow pool water. She helped me work on keeping my mouth open, because that is what is natural for me when I run, so why not do it in the pool? It seems strange to keep my mouth open under water but it is working!
The second after learning to breathe was keeping my arms, hands, and feet relaxed. According to her, I keep a lot of tension in those places because preconceived ideas of how a swimmer should look.
Soon after, it was clear I didn’t know how to kick. The kick should come from the hips, not the knees. Keeping my knees straight and my feet relaxed has been a challenge.
After basking in her reassurance and confidence in me, this concluded my first session. She said I probably swam about 400 yards.
I never got a chance to get in the pool until the next day before my second lesson. I could tell just with the small changes I had made that I was swimming more relaxed and efficient. AND I made it to 800 yards (not 1600 yards… oops).
So yesterday, we worked on keeping my arms relaxed - thumbs close to the body and arms entering lightly through the fingertips. I need practice but I was starting to get it by the end of the lesson. We got out of the pool afterward and worked on moving at the hip instead of the knee during my kick. Overall, we had a great second lesson. She is going to get me into some deep water soon so I can practice relaxing and not panicking when I get tired in deep water.
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Aggressive endurance athlete ready for a new challenge.