This post comes from my lovely wife Ellie, who wanted to share an update on her swimming progress. Enjoy!
A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about relearning how to swim. I figured it would be good to give an update and assure everyone that neither of us had drowned yet.
Jon and I try to swim at least twice a week, but it’s more like three times (why do so few people use the word thrice? It’s such an awesome word) a week. Since he is training for the triathlon, he is working on improving his time and stroke and all that fancy stuff. I am working on my stroke, too, but with much less intensity in my eyes. For me, it’s more about the enjoyment of being in the water. As I type that phrase, I am thinking to myself, “You are crazy. You haven’t done this since you wore that hot-pink one piece that turned the water pinkish [about age ten].” I have a history of ear infections and general ear troubles, and swimming has always exacerbated those issues. Unfortunately this meant that the only swimming I could do for a long time was water aerobics (your hair doesn’t get wet, ladies!) and “laps” using a kickboard. My head couldn’t go underwater or my ears would bother me for days or would get infected. Gross, I know.
I missed so many gym classes that I had to do extra credit on top of my kickboard laps. That meant I had to read for gym. Yeah, you read that correctly. I read gym textbooks. I didn’t even know they made those!
Fast-forward over the next few years of little-to-no swimming on my part, and here we are. I found ear plugs that, while they don’t keep out all the water, don’t let enough in to plug up my ears and cause me terrible pain! It seems that that was all I really needed to get me back in the water. Well, that and some confidence to walk around in glorified lingerie in front of total strangers (who you know are judging; who doesn’t?! Honestly.).
While I think all this aquatic exercise is taking a toll on my hair, skin, nails, and bathing suit, my upper-arm muscles are lookin’ defined!! So you win some and you lose some. I quickly realized the importance of using a cleansing shampoo post-swim; I have yet to figure out what to do about my skin. (Suggestions welcomed!) I smell like chlorine for days even after showering. But all this doesn’t matter that much to me because I realized that I just LOVE swimming. I get out of the pool and am already thinking about how much I want to keep swimming, even when my arms and legs feel like Jell-O. It’s totally exhausting, which for me is important because it helps me sleep. If I’m not exhausted at night, I can’t fall asleep and end up watching TV until 2:00 a.m. just to try to lull myself into a slumber-like stupor. It’s a healthy way of life, I’m sure.
While Jon is working really hard to get the distance in and his time down, I have been pushing myself to try new things, like turning my head to the left to breathe instead of just to my right! Funny story, I was breathing solely on my right and with every other stroke, so my left arm was pulling a lot more than my right and my left tricep was getting redonkulously stronger. So this change in my breathing, while good for triathlons when you are in a crowd of people and can’t really be choosy about which side you breathe on to avoid getting kicked in the face, for me is more of an aesthetic change. No one wants uneven definition.
Another positive change is that I can hold my breath much longer now. I can duck underwater and work on my dolphin kick; I can alternate my breathing doing the front crawl and take breaths every three to four strokes instead of every other. These are things over which, one month ago, had I tried them, I would have panicked and likely swallowed bucketfuls of chlorinated water.
I still take breaks at either end of the lap pool, but they are shorter breaks. I know I’m getting there and that someday I will be able to swim a full lap of the pool without stopping (maybe more!). After that, my next feat will be the flip turn. I have been dying to try them, but I’m just not confident enough yet. I did some somersaults in the outdoor pool at the Albany JCC (Thanks, Scotty and Donnai, for taking us!) and realized that I close my eyes still. While wearing goggles . . . ? It’s so disorienting and I’m nervous my ear plugs will fall out, I just need to work on it slowly, I think. So that’s where I am with my swimming endeavor. I’m excited to keep at it and get mad strong in the tricep area. I’ll be able to open jars at a feverish pace!