Sink or Swim

Posted on April 6, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For as long as I can remember, I have been able to swim. I have no memory of not being near water, having grown up on a lake in Michigan and spending long summer days on or in the water until my lips turned blue and my fingers shriveled into prunes.

Even as an adult, I get to water as often as I can. I dive and snorkel and sail and most of the time would really rather be under water than just about anywhere else.  It’s so much more peaceful.

So you’d think that I would look forward to the swim leg of the sprint tri I’m doing in June, especially since it’s in open water.

Not so.

Even though I learned how to swim at practically the same time I learned how to walk, apparently I didn’t learn right.  Correct form?  What’s that? I simply jumped in the water and off I went.

The closest thing to training I ever had was at age 12 in Girl Scout camp.  Not freestyle, but sidestroke. Even now, the counselor’s words help keep my rhythm:   Pick an apple, put it in the basket.  Pick an apple, put it in the basket.  If I could make a pie for every bushel of apples I’ve picked I could have opened my own bakery by now.

Freestyle, however, the stroke most conducive to tri competition, is the worm in my apple.  I have watched countless swimmers glide gracefully through the water and have wondered how they can make it look so easy.  When I try, I’m worn out before I finish a couple of laps.  I feel like a wounded duck flailing around in the pool.

After two sprint triathlons and I won’t say how many years, it finally occurred to me that maybe I should take a lesson.  I did recently figure out, after all, that it’s probably a good thing to ask for help when you need it.

So a few days ago, I took my first swim lesson.  I spent most of the hour kicking myself.  Why on earth hadn’t I done this before?  In just one hour my stroke improved so tremendously that I was actually gliding through the water like a swan. And you know what? It was easy.

I came away from my lesson with a laundry list of things I was doing wrong.  More important, I now know how to correct them.  I can’t wait to get back in the water.  I think I’ll be swimming once again until my lips turn blue and my fingers shrivel into plums.

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