I had my first adult stroke improvement class last week. It started at 5:00 a.m. - yes, that's right - 5 in the morning!!! What was I thinking?? I've never been an early morning exerciser! But, when I signed the kids up for before-school swimming classes, I felt a surprising draw to get back into the pool.
I used to pride myself on my swimming abilities. As kids we'd swim across Surveyor Lake in the summers, racing to see who could get to the other side first. Even though my Dad would never let us go without rowing alongside, we never needed rescuing. And when a picturesque spot like Kootenay or Surveyor Lake wasn't on the horizon, we would hit good ole Sikome (did they even test for E-coli then?). It seemed like my summers were spent more in the water than on land.
I even liked swimming lessons. Part of what I liked was the competitiveness. I loved it when I could beat the boys in my class - forcing myself to go faster and faster, to skip breathing if I had to. When it came to the level where you had to swim in your clothes - I was a pro. There were no sexy UPF50+ rash shirts then - let's just say that most farmers had a better tan line than I did!
Then as I got older, I had less time for swimming. I still managed to beat Paul at two sprint triathlons when we lived in Houston. He had his excuses, and I didn't beat him by much, but it felt great. Granted, in one race I only beat him by a minute. He still claims to this day that the one minute difference was the time that it took him to close his mouth when the girl next to him stripped down naked in the bike transition area! Still, swimming was one sport I could always beat Paul.
Back to my 5 a.m. swim class. I dragged myself out of bed and to the school pool. I had on my sleek black Nike swim "togs", goggles, and ridiculous headache inducing swim cap. Not exactly a Pamela Anderson Baywatch moment but what can you do? There was only one other swimmer in the pool with me - a former life guard who swims laps every day. I felt somewhat intimidated, having not really swam laps for more than 10 years, but I decided that I was there for me, and so I'd "give it a go." (Although I must admit that the only butterflies I had going for me were in my stomach and not of the swimming style variety!)
Briody (our 20 something coach) told me to swim 6 lengths of freestyle (front crawl) to warm up. So, I took a breath and started. I made it 2 lengths, then had to stop. "O.K.," she said, "try to only stop for 10 seconds after every 2 laps."
That didn't happen. I stopped at each end to gasp. "O.K., try to only stop for 10 seconds between laps". By this time I was seriously feeling like I had swallowed half the pool. Not a pleasant feeling when you know 400 kids with snotty noses and falling off bandaids had been in the pool the day before! Ten second breaks I thought - are you kidding me? Luckily by this time a few more people had come and she didn't seem to notice as much when my "one Mississippi's" turned into "thirty Mississippi's"! After my "warm-up" she must have decided to take some pity on me because I got to do back crawl and also work using the kick board. At least on those laps I didn't have to have my face in the water and I could actually breathe.
But, then it was back to front crawl. With some guy now sharing a lane with me, my "I am woman" competitive streak starting coming back, and I would not let myself give up. So, after 50 minutes of pain, my face was beat red but it was over. Only 9 more weeks to go... yikes!
After I drug myself out of the pool, all I could think was, "Thank God I didn't sign up for the Bribie Island Triathlon this weekend!" Even though the lifeguards here are not unattractive, it would have been embarrassing to be rescued.
So, I've committed to hauling myself to the pool every Friday morning. I figure I can only go up from here. And in a country with sharks in the water - I don't want to be the slowest!