Baby steps in the pool

So now all of a sudden my sister is talking about doing a triathlon again.

Apparently Tri the Creek at Potato Creek State Park has come out with a Super Sprint distance that requires a mere 200-meter swim, 6-mile bike ride and 1 mile trail run. It’s so short you can’t really come up with an excuse not to do it, which is probably the point. It certainly got her attention.

And mine, because even though in an ideal world I’d do at least one triathlon a year, I don’t like to do them on my own so much. It’s much more fun if somebody goes along.

So Colleen and I hit the pool at the Y last night to see if I remembered how to swim.

I could tell I’d been out of the pool for a long time because I had to coax myself to jump into what felt like pretty cold water. I always know I’ll be warm enough once I go down and back, and usually I don’t even think about it anymore because once I get in I immediately take off to start warming up. But not last night.

This was a back-to-square one workout. On the agenda: “Motorboats”.  Yep, just like in  kiddie swimming lessons. Since I never seem to be able to progress beyond one pool length of head-in-the-water freestyle, it was back to the drawing board.

I did 10 of them, holding on to the side of the pool, moving my head to the side while kicking, just like when I was a kid.

As I did them, I tried to stay really relaxed. I always get panicky after about four breaths when I exhale underwater while swimming. This time, I forced myself to stay calm because I wasn’t moving. It was kind of like yoga, right? Working on the breath.

I tried to remember how I felt doing these as a kid, but I couldn’t. My guess is I probably did the motorboats OK, but rushed through them. And then the instructors probably had us incorporate the breathing into the stroke for about a pool length, which is still all I can do.

I didn’t bother trying to do the breath during the stroke itself because I want to get more confident about my breathing first. Instead, I attempted a 200-meter freestyle with my head out of water – and made it exactly a lap and a half before I had to rest.

Crazy, isn’t it? I can run forever and yet in the pool you’d think I’m completely out of shape. Still, I forced myself to finish the 200, rest breaks and all.

Finally, I had Colleen time me in a 300-meter sidestroke. (There’s a local triathlon coming up in a week or two, and I was curious to get a baseline time, just in case.) The verdict: 8:33. Slow, yes, but on the entry form it’s kind of in the middle of the estimated times you can check. So that was a bit of a morale boost.

And that was it. I wanted this to be a baby step workout, so that next time I can think, “Well, I don’t have to do much to do better than last time.”

So I’ll keep doing that 200-meter freestyle until I can swim it without stopping. Keep doing those motorboats until I feel comfortable enough to add them back into my stroke.

And I’ll probably keep timing my 300-meter sidestroke, just because it’s the only thing I feel really confident about in the pool right now.

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2 Responses to Baby steps in the pool

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Interesting thought about baby steps… I usually get tiny results when I take them.

    Leap girl! You’re Super Tisch!

  2. tischcaylor says:

    Good point, and generally I’d agree with you on this. But when it comes to swimming with my face in the water, I’ve got some kind of mental block that’s going to require going back to the dawn of creation.

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