My new workout schedule includes a Thursday swim and this week will be my first day back in the pool. Wish me luck! It’s been years since I’ve been lane swimming. Since my first triathlon in fact. As part of my fitness run up to forty, I started running, gave triathlon a try once I’d run my first 10 km and decided I’d rather try multi-sport rather than train for a half marathon. You know, after 10 km something had to be next something had to be next. Along the way I discovered I’m really a cyclist.
I joke about that but it’s true. I was a middle of the pack runner and I bought a road bike expecting to be a middle of the pack cyclist. First time out with my triathlon training group I did 30 km and was out front the entire ride. The young men who thought themselves fast expected that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but they were wrong.
Later I started riding with road cyclists, learned to draft, and moved to the back of the bunch. Among beginning triathletes I was very fast, among experienced road cyclists, just fast enough to come along for the ride.
Back to swimming: I joined the Western triathlon club and starting swimming with the students. 6 am suited up and on the pool deck on campus two mornings a week. My reputation as a hard core member of the group was secured by my habit of riding my bike into the university to swim, through snow storms and freezing winter weather. My cold weather riding habit wasn’t training related. Without a car that was my one way in in the morning.
But if I was a speedy cyclist and a middle of the pack runner, I was anchor person for the slow lane in swimming. People joined my lane, got fast, and left. I loved the drills but I never picked up speed. I have to concentrate hard to get the breathing right. I suppose there was one bit of good news. I didn’t have bad habits to break when I started the total immersion method favoured by triathletes. I didn’t learn to front crawl until I was 38.
Later I moved to masters swimming at the Y, said goodbye to the super fast undergraduates, but I still stayed in the slow lane. I’m not sure if it’s not just psychological. There’s something about being out of breath and in the water, I don’t like.
So I’m a slow steady swimmer. I’m going to make sure I’ve got the distance under control. Certainly this time, if I wear a wet suit, I’m going to swim in it in advance of race day. I’m also going to be sure to practise in the open water and get used to waves. Read about my past race day mistakes here.
Any other advice you’d offer an aspiring triathlete whose main challenge is the swim?