Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My little (HUGE) breakthrough in the pool!

Where to start! Not too long ago (well almost a week ago now) I had finished the best swim of my life! YES  - THE BEST SWIM OF MY LIFE! If you know me or have followed my blog, you know that I didn’t grow up as a swimmer, and swimming most certainly doesn’t come easy to me.  I joke with my parents all the time that I wish they made me swim when I was little. (as in join a swim team) It would just make my life that much easier now.  Instead I was bouncing an orange ball around any chance I could, which I can’t really complain about as that is really what opened up the door for me and gave me the opportunity to come the U.S. … Still doesn't stop me from wishing I swam a little when I was younger. Girl can dream, right? 

I am certainly athletic, and usually pick up on things fairly quickly, but swimming although I could always swim, is a different game. A whoooooooooooole different game – and not a ball game! I would find myself frustrated at times because things just weren’t happening fast enough. I have really been wanting to graduate from my “turtle” like speed and take my swimming to the next level for what feels like an eternity!  

As someone a bit competitive (shocking to all of you I am sure), swimming has just always been about beating that clock. It’s been about being faster than the day, the week, or the month before. I mean – if I swim every day, I should see progress, right? Preferably a continuous forward progress rather than the backwards one.  That’s how my brain works. But I would struggle, I would swim, and swim, and swim, and fight with the silly little clock day in and day out.  Some days I would win and some days I would lose. I would fight the water, and get so mad at myself for not being faster.  I would make improvements, only to go right back to where I came from few days or weeks later AND that to me was beyond frustrating. I admit, there were days when there were tears involved, but even though I really wanted to just quit swimming at times, deep down I really never did and I certainly won’t.   I just wanted to quit being so damn slow, and get faster. Is that too much to ask for?  Just graduate from that turtle stage already!

It was apparent to me that this whole swimming fast deal wasn’t going to happen on its own, and so my coach Jorge, found just what I needed in the super swim coach Karen, who somehow made swimming FUN for me. I have been working with Karen since the end of last summer, and she has slowly but surely transformed me into much more of a swimmer that I ever could have become on my own. It does however take work, and a bit of sacrifice (sleep). To put things into perspective - there are days when I drive a total of almost 110 miles to go swim with Karen and still be at work by 9am - do you think I want to swim fast?

Aaaaah - Happy Jana

 Waving for the camera

 Fins make everything better 

Am I as fast as I want to be? No!
Will I be? Absolutely!
Do I still care about the clock? Yes, I do! But it’s not the same. I am learning to accept things better.  
Most importantly, I have a new found level of confidence with which I approach all my swim workouts. I will soon be as fast as this little creature ;)

Sailfish also knows as the fastest fish in the world capable of moving as fast as 68mph! Yes - PLEASE!

Sure – there are still the times when Karen throws out an interval, and my brain goes into immediate panic mode as in – really? Are you sure you are not mistaking me for someone else? But instead of my brain quietly whispering “You can’t do this”, it’s now saying “Go for it and see what happens”.  That particular attitude shift for me is HUGE! It’s really what is allowing me to swim better than ever right now, and as much as I would like to say it happened overnight, it didn’t. It took months – not 1, not 2, not 3, but many more than that. Karen has made me do things, I never thought I would be capable of doing. I swam with people that were and still are all way faster than me, and there were and still are times I am the slowest person in the pool. That for someone as competitive as me isn’t exactly all that comfortable. But you know what, I did it, I got over myself, I made new friends, and it didn’t kill me, it really only made me stronger. Swimmers really don't bite ;). I wouldn’t lie if I didn’t say, I peak over to the next lane and try to keep up (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I am able to use the inability to keep up as fuel instead of a reason for frustration) and THAT is another HUGE success! 

I am very proud to say I can successfully make it at least 25 yards swimming butterfly and that ladies and gentleman is not an easy feat. (For me that is) Yeah I know – who cares, right? You don’t swim butterfly in a triathlon, but that’s a whole separate conversation and a can of worms I don’t want to open up right now. The point here is that I learned something I never thought I could! And that is priceless to me! It more mentally rather than physically opened up a whole new world to me!  

 May not be perfect but it's so fun!

But I am getting a bit carried away, and I need to get back to THE breakthrough of a swim workout. I had a great little warm up and one part of the workout as to swim 3 x 500s to swim on a certain interval. That interval was very tight! Actually I only swam faster than the said interval ONCE before, and that was on an all out 500. Seeing that before, would make me cringe and think crazy thoughts, but this time around, I just went for it. Aaaah – LOVE the attitude change! ;) (Thank you Karen - I still don't know how you did it, but you did) Somehow I just knew before I even swam that I will make it. I didn’t care if it was by 1 second, I was going to make it.  To my absolute surprise, I swam the 1st 500 10 seconds faster than my goal time. I then swam the 2nd 500 another 5 seconds faster than the 1st one, and I felt so good that the 3rd 500 was even faster than the 2nd one. You get the point – In the end, I just essentially set 3 new PB’s in a row without even going all out and by quite a bit of a margin. I was on top of the water moving very fast for me, and I felt it. I felt soooooo good, and I felt indestructible. I was fishing that day was race day because I was unstoppable! I have never been so happy about my swimming ever. I have been swimming well lately, but I wasn’t expecting this to happen! I will honestly never forget that day – NEVER!  I felt like this guy:

 His butterfly is just as good as mine, and his mindset is exactly where mine is at all the time - mmmm food! 

Yum! Can I go eat yet? 

With my first 70.3 of the season in Quassy coming up in little less than a week, this day couldn’t have really come in a better time. My swimming confidence is at an all-time high, and I am very excited to jump in that lake and see where I am at. Regardless of what happens at Quassy however, I know I am swimming better than ever, my biking is super solid and my running is better than it has ever been! It’s only June, but I am very confident in my fitness level. I am all in for Quassy and I can’t wait to go for it. 5 days and counting! 


  1. Wow, congrats!!! Can't wait until this happens with my running sprint intervals :D But as with everything - the hard work and dedication pays off!!!

    1. Just keep at it and it will happen :)

  2. Swimming is strange, isn't it? I too wish my parents made me swim when I was a kid, my life would be much easier now:)

    I am very inconsistent in a pool. One day I can hit my paces no problem, the next day I am way off. It is very frustrating. But I am always so happy when I hit my paces or have a little breakthrough.

    Congrats and good luck in Quassy!