Becoming A Swimmer

I have a confession. I hate swimming. Maybe it’s claustrophobia? Maybe I don’t like staring at the bottom of a pool? Maybe I don’t feel comfortable in the water? Maybe I don’t like restricted breathing?

Most likely, I don’t like being stuck in my own head. There’s some creepy stuff in there, y’all.

Whatever the reason, we aren’t friends. Getting to the pool, even once a week, is a challenge.  I LOVE running and I LOVE cycling (which will be its own post) but swimming and I are having relationship issues. I know I need to swim. But I never WANT to swim.

I bought a cheap waterproof MP3 player off Amazon and it helped. The sound quality is horrible, everything sounds like it’s being played through a tin can, but it distracts me enough to keep me in the pool a little longer…and for only $30, it was worth it.

I did my first open water swim a week before Cypress Tri.

Before I started, I took a selfie.

Here it is.

Don’t I look excited??

A couple of minutes into the swim, about 100 yards from shore, as I bobbed up and down unable to see my hand in front of my face, I had a moment, not of panic but of WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Let’s just say, I’m glad I signed up for Ironman before my first open water adventure…because you can bet, as sure as the sun shines, that I would have chickened out right then and there.

2.4 miles of this? Oh hell no. Nope. No way. Uh no.

Which leaves me with quite the conundrum. I have to swim nearly 2.5 miles, in a lake, in 10 months. This girl needs some serious open water practice and some serious time in the pool. Serious, like as in, every day.

Which leaves me here, semi-complaining about how much I don’t like to swim. Well, it’s time for that to change.

Upon recommendation from a friend, I bought Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes. It’s full of great exercises and drills that you do both in and out of the pool. I joined a local swim club and have been swimming there twice a week, and I am spending another two hours a week in the pool at the Y.

Much like anything else I don’t really enjoy, swimming is an opportunity to grow – to take the person that I am today and turn myself into a better person tomorrow.

To take a part of me that is weak and do whatever it takes to make it strong.

Whatever. It. Takes. No excuses. No complaining.

I may never genuinely love swimming, but then again – there was a time when I thought I would never love running either…

…there’s hope, and that’s all I need.


I’m 33 weeks into my pregnancy; the last run I went on was 28 weeks ago and my next run is still 13, long, weeks away. Our Y membership has been a godsend during my running drought but to say that I’m burned out on gym equipment is an understatement.

Several weeks ago, I borrowed a maternity swimsuit from my sister-in-law so I could take E swimming at the indoor pool. While I was splashing with her in the water I watched some swimmers in the lap lanes powering through what looked like a hard workout and had an epiphany. I can swim!

I went home and made a beeline for my closet. After much digging, I found a pair of cheap goggles I’d bought eons ago and the next day I was staring down the lap lanes of the pool.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I hopped in the water and just started swimming. My arms flailed. My legs thrashed. I huffed and I puffed. My timing could not have been worse. I was attempting my first ever lap swim only 10 minutes before recreational swim began and throngs of parents with small children lined the sides of the pool. They watched the lap swimmers because honestly there wasn’t much else to do; they watched me make a fool of myself. Somehow though I managed to swim a total of 500 meters and I left the Y that day proud and hopeful of my swimming future.

Realizing I needed help, I pulled up some beginning swimmer workout schedules online and began watching YouTube videos on proper swim technique. Now I swim three times a week. Each workout focuses separately on form and endurance – drills to help me become a more efficient swimmer and distance swims to build my endurance.

I quickly realized that real swimming, done properly, HURTS. The first few swims were rough to say the least. I can’t even tell you how much water I inhaled trying to work out the best breathing rhythm and I had to stand up in middle of the lane more than once to relieve screaming muscles. But, amazingly, with each swim I feel more confident and less embarrassed – more like a swimmer and less like an idiot. I’m looking forward to seven more weeks of practice before Baby Buck makes his debut  Maybe a triathlon is in my future? 🙂