In the process of cleaning out my gym gear yesterday, I found several sets of swimming ear plugs and nose clips. I laughed to myself, thinking about how much I hated those nose clips. They never stayed on my nose, although they did keep me from snorting water. For some reason, I decided to keep them, because they remind me of how far I’ve come as a swimmer.
Ever since I was little, I’d jump at every chance I got to go swimming. I was terrified of deep water, so I’d always stick to the shallow end. Even in junior high, when we were required to learn to swim in gym class, I stayed in the shallow end. I did learn to swim, with not exactly the best technique, but I could propel myself through the water.
As I got older, and my body recovered from CIDP, I realized that I would need to overcome my fear of deep water if I was to ever realize my dream of diving or snorkeling in the ocean. The local YMCA opened in 2008, and I joined with the anticipation of swimming all the time. That’s when I decided I’d need those nose clips.
Obviously, I had no clue what I was doing. The freestyle I had learned in junior high was not very efficient because I was afraid to put my head in the water. Swimming laps was really tough, and quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy it. Eventually, I developed my own form of breast stroke that allowed me to feel more comfortable and graceful in the water. And yes, I did swim in the deep end…but I was terrified that I was going to sink somehow.
In 2015, I started thinking about doing my first sprint triathlon, but I knew my swimming needed a lot of work. Fortunately, the Lewisburg tri has a pool swim (as opposed to open water), so I thought it would be possible for me to complete it. A friend from my Weight Watchers group who was an experienced triathlete offered to critique my swimming and give me some pointers.
Let’s just say I needed more than pointers.
For starters, I wasn’t kicking from my hips, my breathing was all wrong (even though my head was actually IN the water), and I was basically a freestyle mess. I left the pool feeling as if my swimming would never be good enough to compete.
Did that stop me? No!
From that chilly spring day up until the date of the tri in August, I worked really hard on my swimming. I started training with a kickboard, which I absolutely hated, because I kicked and kicked and didn’t go anywhere. I did the drills that my friend gave me. My endurance was still terrible, but I started to feel a little more confident in my swimming ability.
Needless to say, the swimming was the easiest part of the triathlon for me that warm August day. The water was cold, but I was able to warm up in the dive (like 12 feet deep) pool before the race started. The fact that I was comfortable in such deep water was a testament to how far I’d come. Yes, it took me a while to swim those 6 laps, and I did have to rest because I was breathless. But when I climbed out of that pool, I think I’d felt the greatest sense of accomplishment ever!
In 2016, I discovered a technique called Total Immersion. It has changed my swimming completely! Now, I feel so much more graceful in the water, and my endurance has improved tremendously! I also learned that I can breathe every 4 strokes and be comfortable. My tri swim times have been slowly improving as well. Oh…and TI swim training requires NO kickboard! Did I mention my hatred of kickboards?
One of my dreams when I reach my goal weight is to get my SCUBA certification. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef, and someday I hope I get the chance. For some strange reason, I’d also like to learn to surf (first, I’ve got to improve my sorry boogie boarding skills). Sometimes it takes a while for us to reach our dreams, but we should keep on pursuing them! Never give up, and don’t let fear keep you from trying new things. You might just find a new passion!