The First Time I Swam

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.

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