Friday, February 14, 2014

What makes you think I love it?!

You know, its funny. I get friends and errant people all the time telling me that running and/or cycling is wearing them out and they can't find a way to recover or they want to find some type of cross training to give their legs a break but balk at the suggestion of swimming and say "I have no time to swim" or "I hate swimming" or my personal favorite..."I'm just no good at swimming". Compound that with follow up statement "I'd really love to do a triathlon...but the swimming..." normally solicits a series of eye rolls from me.

So you don't want to swim because you don't know how to...or you're not good at it? I hope that sounds ridiculous to you too when I say it out loud. I am by NO means a "swimmer". I have always wanted to do an Ironman and knew that I could put together the bike and run but I had to crack the swimming nut. Now I'm a firm believer that people that grow up as swimmers have a HUGE LEG up on the rest of us. Swimming is not "natural" for humans. Once you're taught proper form as a kid...and it sticks (it's really no different than learning a language as a kid) its always there and you can recall it. To learn swimming as an adult (essentially a new language) is terribly difficult.

Moment of truth? The first time I got in a pool to train: I hopped in to share a lane without asking, got my ass chewed out by the swimmer already in the lane, I struggled and muscled my way through the length (yes I said length NOT lap), got right out at other end, went into the locker room and sobbed to myself that I'll never be a triathlete...much less an Ironman. Ya, not a good day at all. But rather then let the water best me, I had to do two things I hate: admit defeat and ask for help. I got a friend who was a collegiate swimmer to teach me how to swim, put my ego in check and listened to the critiquing and worked steadily to better myself. Am I a good swimmer? No. Am I decent and no longer experiencing "controlled drowning" every time I swim? Do my swim times come down at every race (and subsequently put me on a podium now)? Yes. Can I hang with real swimmers? Not a chance...but I do enjoy catching most of them on the bike (its all about the small victories).

Do I look forward to going to the pool now? Um...I try to be positive and focus on the task at hand. But, at no point in the water am I laid back and just "swimming". I always think to myself: head down, strong shallow kick, proper hand entry, rock side to side, strong pull...followed by...oh crap breathe, breathe! the end of the day, I have no intention of letting the water beat me. I will get better every swim session. I will get through that 2.4 mile Ironman swim (with plenty of gas in the tank for that 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) and I will earn the title "Ironman". Ya, I don't love the swim...but I'm warming up to it with every stroke. I do look forward to the swim at races now because its a chance to bring my swim times down with every race. So....what's your excuse for not at least trying?!


  1. Reading this made me smile. I always wanted to try a triathlon, but was scared of the swim. The sad part was that I grew up living on a lake, but never learned to really swim. I used the controlled drowning technique. I signed up for Timberman for this year and am working with a friend who was a collegiate swimmer who just happens to love coaching.

  2. Wow, I am kinda of speechless after reading this. It sounds a lot like someone I know (me). I really hope I can allow myself to reach further out to my endeavors as you did! Congrats on your achievements and best wishes! :)