One of my goals is to one day complete a triathlon. There is one HUGE obstacle to reaching this goal, I don’t know how to swim. Ok, I can stay afloat and get from point A to point B without touching the bottom, but my style of swimming (dog paddle/tredding water and my version of the breast stroke) won’t get me very far, very fast.
You might have noticed on my #MotivateMe Monday posts that I have included swimming on Mondays. Yep I’ve signed myself up to the local pool for some endurance swim lessons. It might take me a few months, or a few years even to get me to a point I can swim in a triathlon but if I don’t start now, I will never accomplish my goal.You are never too old to learn a new skill! Click To Tweet
First thing’s first, what type of equipment is needed? A swimsuit! I had a couple of 2 piece bathing-suits, but they are aren’t suitable for swimming lessons. So, I headed to Sport Chek to see what they had. With a $50 budget in mind, I decided on a nice black and purple Made-in-Canada TYR swimsuit (pictured below in blue).
TIP: Being a first timer, I didn’t know what to look for in a swim suit. The sales woman said that it should fit a bit snug because the chlorine will eventually eat away at the material and loosen it up a bit.
Then I had the dilemma of what to wear, my glasses or my contacts? I’m near-sighted, and an only see up to about 15 cm away. Sad, I know! Problem is I need corrective lenses to see! I can’t swim with my contacts since they will get displaced, and I can’t swim with glasses since they will fall off. Solution? Goggles! I picked up a pair of Speedo Women’s Vanquisher Mirrored Swim Goggles at Sport Chek.
Ok, so as far as equipment goes, all I needed to buy was two things, therefore the cost is minimal. Since I’m only swimming once a week, one swimsuit is enough. Overall, I’m very happy with both of my purchases and they have served me well.
Swimming Lesson #1
The first lesson was a tough one! We started off doing 4 lengths (25 m each length) of flutter kicks and a flutter board, rest for 2 minutes and repeat, repeat, repeat!
After a 5 minute break, we proceeded to do 8 consecutive lengths while swimming in either backstroke, front crawl or breast stroke. We were timed and that will serve as our baseline. I did my 8 lengths in 7 minutes and 50 seconds. NOT stellar. I was the slowest out of the 5 women in my class. The other ladies were closer to the 4-5 minute mark.
I struggled for those entire 8 lengths. Like I said, I don’t know how to swim very well yet and I felt lots of panic and pressure throughout the lesson.
By then end, my lungs were tired and my muscles had worked hard. What I take away from my first class? SWIMMING IS DIFFICULT!
Swimming Lesson 2
I have to say that I came out of lesson 2 feeling better! Since only a few of us showed up to class, our instructor asked us what we wanted to work on. I wanted some instructions on proper stroke techniques and tips on breathing. To correct my kicks, she had me doing lengths with a flutter board so I could concentrate on my kicks. To correct my breathing, she had me doing lengths, again with the flutter board and just concentrating on my breathing, taking a breath and releasing my breath on a count of 5 under water.
Ok, for those who swim, this might sound silly, but I realized that last week, I was doing my breathing all wrong. I was holding my breath (at least trying to) while my head was under water then, come up for air and trying to exhale and inhale very quickly. I see now why I felt panicked, I could never get enough breath in. It’s a bit of an Ah-Ha moment for me, but my new strategy of exhaling underwater then going up for air helped me a lot!
Next, she had me do a few exercises to improve my front crawl and I did several lengths practicing the front crawl followed by instruction on how to do the breast stroke followed by lots of practicing. I have to say, knowing the proper techniques really help me improve my comfort level with swimming and minimize that sense of panic.
All in all, I think that endurance swimming is much harder than I thought! I love that I’m learning and refining this important life saving skill. It’s great for an entire body workout too and it’s helping me get closer to reaching on of my life goals: to compete in a triathlon.
Are you a swimmer? Do you have any tips for a newbie?
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