Sunday, January 23, 2011

On my way to becoming a swimmer!

Oh where do I begin!  Perhaps I should start with the most obvious: I am NOT a swimmer! I could always swim, but I didn’t grow up swimming! My swim stroke of choice was always breast stroke.  So when I jumped into the pool about 2 years ago, it was a cold wakeup call! Forget the time how long it actually took me to get in the pool! Brrrrrr …. Forget the time, and how long it took me to swim 50 yards! I was glad to make it the 25 yards there, and 25 yards back, and I couldn’t wait to hang on the wall so I could catch my breath! My rest periods between sets and those sets were definitely limited to about 100 yards at a time,  were just as long as the swim itself. I must say that was extremely humbling! I mean, I always thought I was in shape, so why could I not swim for longer than a minute without feeling like I was going to drown?  I quickly realized swimming wasn’t all about cardio. I mean how else do you explain to me that a person who looks like a couch potato  can swim about 10 times faster than me,  but can’t even run a mile? I immediately knew I was in for a treat!

I slowly got little more comfortable, and made myself swim 500 yards at a time.  I really only did that so that I had some sort of confidence at my first sprint tri. To show you how oblivious I was, I actually thought I for some reason had to swim free style the entire race or else I would be disqualified! Good thing that wasn’t the case as I have used breaststroke to get around the gigantic buoys many times since. Of course I don’t have the perfect breaststroke technique that the lady below has, but it would allow me to catch a breather so I could continue on with my slow poke free style if you could really even call it that and in process perhaps lose some folks that were trying to cling on to me for one reason or another! 

I have since completed 2 sprint, 3 olympic, and 3 half ironman distance races, and I am still waiting for the day when I will actually look forward to the swim part of a triathlon rather than dread it! Yes, I now can swim 1.2 miles without having to breast stroke, but I just can’t swim the 1.2 miles fast enough!

With that said, 2011 is the year when I will become a better swimmer! I have decided my outlook on swimming must change or else it’s just never going to happen for me.  I do believe that attitude plays a huge part in how well or crappy we perform, so as of 1/1/11 I am embracing this thing called SWIMMING! I am going to approach each swimming session with a positive attitude. I will not dread swimming and I am going to become a swimmer!!!!!!!!  The swimmer part may not be today, or tomorrow, or next month but it is going to happen! I have seen improvements in my swimming already every since I began to work with Coach Jorge, but I still have a long way to go. Below is my improvement in numbers, but I do have to say I actually FEEL million times better when I swim, and I don’t dread going swimming like I used to. Baby steps! 


1,000 yards
200 yards
CSS/100 yards
June, 2010
August, 2010
October, 2010
January, 2011
7:58 (500 yards)

I actually look forward to swimming, and I believe that’s one of the most important parts to success. Sure there will be times when I’ll hate the pool, and I am ok with that. I do have love/hate relationship with swimming, but I am ok with that too. Those “hate” days make me work just that much harder during the next session.

I mean, there are days when I want to throw the power meter or my bike out the window, or when I feel like I simply can’t run any faster even though I ran faster with less effort just the other day. Being basketball player, I compare some of these days to the times when you go 10 for 10 from the field, and as long as the ball is thrown in the general direction of the hoop it will go in, and then there are days when one can’t even make a layup! And that’s just how it is – we all have good and bad days!  It’s how we come back from these physically tough, mentally challenging, perhaps not so successful sessions that counts the most!  So I know that if I can approach each training session with a positive attitude, one day I will get into T1 when there are still plenty of bikes left, instead of seeing T1 half empty!  J

My ultimate goal is to swim like Julie Dibens, but I know that it’s not going to happen overnight. Do I wish I woke up one day and swam like her? Sure! J I may never get as fast as her, and I think I am fine with that. Well – not really as I really want to swim fast, but realistically I know that if me and Julie played some bball, I would school her. She was a D1 swimmer, and I was a D1 bball player! She swam for 20+ years, and I played bball for 20+ years. I know it will take me a long time to swim as fast as she does, but I know hard work pays off, and I am willing to put the time in, and watch my times get faster and faster!  We are almost done with January, and I am going to swim probably just as many yards if not more as I swam back in October which is when I put in my highest swimming yardage in to date. I am like a walking chlorine machine, but I don't care! I may care when my hair starts to look like this, but not being a blonde that will hopefully not happen! :)

I have also done the underwater swim analysis back in December, and even though my times have improved quite a bit since last time I did it, and I have been feeling a lot better in the water, Mr. Dartfish (the viewing software) has confirmed I still have many flaws I need to work on, which is so easily said than done. From proper catch and pull, to my hand entry, and my body position, the list goes on. But guess what!  I see lots’ of room for improvement  and that means  once I actually improve my technique even more, I’ll just keep getting faster and faster!  Watch out Julie! :)

So I have been concentrating on my technique quite a bit, and have spent some quality time with my friends below:

I think the ankle locks are my favorite! NOT! If you have never tried those, I suggest you do! :)
I also do have to admit that when I use the kickboard, I barely move. So to improve my kick, I have been trying vertical kicking. Trying is the key word, as I tend to sink very fast!!!

When looking for some youtube videos of how to improve my vertical kick, and improve my chances of NOT drowning after 15 seconds, I came across this paragraph!

Vertical kicking is one of the most under-used "secret weapons" in swimming. One reason it's under-used is because it looks more like aqua aerobics than swimming, and to do it without drowning you have to wear one of those funny-looking belt thingys. But don't be fooled. Vertical kicking is tough stuff. And if you decide to try it without the belt thingy, it is REALLY tough stuff. “

I have also been watching Mr. Smooth and plenty of other youtube videos on how to improve my technique/stroke.  I am determined to have Mr. Smooth’s stroke very soon! J

My desire to become a swimmer continues! It is extremely challenging, but I am starting to find joy in swimming! I mean, I have even been attempting flip turns!!!!!!  It’s by no means pretty, but just the fact that I am trying is a step in the right direction.

I had a bad day in the pool the other day. It was the day after I actually spent some quality time in front my computer screen watching all kinds of drills, and Mr. Smooth! J When I actually tried implementing them, I became way slower! What? That was to say the least a bit frustrating, but this is what my coach had to say:
Anytime you change something mechanical, your efficiency suffers a bit, don’t sweat it. It is part of the process!”

So I’ll take it, and try again next time! I am adding the word “patience” into my vocabulary, and I am excited to continue this journey to reaching my full potential and becoming the best I can be. 

Maybe reading this book will help a bit? :)

Or better yet, maybe visiting the International Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale next week may magically make me a fast swimmer? Aaaah wishful thinking! J

Czech in with me in June when I take on my first half ironman of the season at Rev3 Quassy in CT! I would love to swim around 32-33 min for the 1.2 mile swim which is almost 5 min faster than my fastest ½ iron swim of 36:41 at Timberman back in August, 2010.

Time to hit the pool! Catch you all later!  J

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