Did I ever tell you about the first time I swam? I had to swim because it was a part of a triathlon, SWIM, bike, run. And, I had to do a triathlon so I had something to motivate me to keep in shape. So I had to swim, right? I didn’t know where to go to swim or what to do to train so I kept putting off the swim training. I focused on running and biking until one day I was standing at the edge of a lake in my brand new triathlon shorts just moments before the start gun went of for my very first triathlon. There I stood with zero swim experience, not even as much as sticking the toenail of my big toe in the shallow end of a swimming pool to train for this. “It’s OK,” I thought. “It is only a 400 yard swim. I can fake it.” I could see the course, two big orange buoys parallel to the edge of the lake creating a 400 yard square course. “It’s not too far.”
The starting gun went off. I waited for everyone else to get ahead of me before I dove in the water. “Oh, yeah, this is easy,” I thought. Then I reached the 25 yard mark (or so I was estimating). My arms started burning. I can’t believe how fast those arms were becoming fatigued. I wasn’t even close to the first buoy as I was still to the shore. I experimented with swimming on my back for a while to break up the pace. I only succeeded in turning myself around swimming in the wrong direction. So back on my belly I went, using my arms in any manner they would be willing to cooperate to pull myself in a forward direction.
I reached the first buoy and said to myself, “I’m never doing this again.” I was serious. “Triathlon is not for me.” That was a little disappointing because I was enjoying the triathlon club and the run and bike workouts with the club. “I can still run and bike with them,” I thought. Though, it may be a little embarrassing to just run and bike with the club and not actually do anymore triathlons … if I even survive this one.
Survive it I did. I eventually managed to pull myself through 400 yards of water back to the safety of my bike and I finished that triathlon. It was not too long afterwards that I developed a case of amnesia, forgot about my resolution to never swim again, and signed up for another triathlon. The club offered a master’s swim course which I did not hesitate to sign up for. I remember the first day of the swim course. For the first exercise, the coach said, “Swim 100 yards.” I looked across the pool and had to ask, “How far is 100 yards?”
So I began training, 25 yards at a time, Until the 25 yards turned to 50 and 50 yards turned to 100. Soon I was completing the 90 minute workouts with relative ease. I liked the way the swim training made me feel. I slowly began to enjoy it and even look forward to it. However, it was not until I started training in open water that I fell in love with swimming. There is something very meditative and soothing about putting my head down in the water and swimming for long distances uninterrupted by the edges of a pool, slowly watching the scenery pass as I turn my head to breath. I now spend an uneven amount of my training hours swimming and neglect the other two disciplines, biking and running.