I have been in the water several times this week. On Tuesday I went to the Aquatic Center after work to swim because I had not been in the water in a few days. I had already worked with Sam in the studio that morning but I just needed to swim. On Thursday I went to Oak Mountain and met John Hanna for an open water swim. More about that below. This morning I did speed work with Sam. Lots of 50 yard sprints, trying not to take a vacation at the wall but I need to keep working on that. Tomorrow I will do some distance work.
Yesterday I went back to Oak Mountain, where Buster Britton was held, to do an open water swim with John. As I have thought about open water swims since Buster Britton I have basically felt like I was going to throw up. I knew I could do it since I had last summer but the swim in June threw me off. Sam and I have talked about doing some open water work around Tuscaloosa but the time and place have not worked out so far. I also felt like I needed to go back to the same place and prove to myself that I could swim in that lake.
John asked me what scared me about the open water. Lots of things. The water is deep, I can’t touch the bottom, I can’t see the bottom. In a race I worry about getting kicked in the face or winding up way off course since I can’t always swim in a straight line. Many of my fears go back to childhood and swimming in Lake Huron, or trying to swim in Lake Huron and keep up with my cousins. I know I have written about my mother’s fear of water that she instilled in all of us. It still creeps in, especially in open water where there are no lane lines or walls nearby.
We went into the water. My first attempt to swim out to where John was failed. I didn’t make it. So we did a few things to help me get more comfortable in the water – bobbing under water and talking about breathing (because I really do forget to breathe sometimes). I made it out and back several times over the next 30 or 40 minutes, all freestyle. By the time we finished I felt much more comfortable about being in the open water though I know I still have work to do.
Per my last post, some of this has to do with being patient with myself and giving myself time to learn how to swim in the open water. I have to learn how to spot and how to get back on course if I get off. I also need to make sure I get in the water and that I spend some time getting comfortable and relaxed before I swim. But I also just need to face my fears and know that I will be ok in the open water. I am a better swimmer now than I was even a year ago, though I still have work to do on stroke and technique. I can always backstroke for a while if I have to and I can tread water and not sink.
My next open water swim in a triathlon is July 21. I’m know that I will be fine.
Despite my hesitation in the open water because it’s deep, I now prefer swimming in the pools that are deeper. Last week I managed to get to the 50 meter pool one day when it was set up for long course. I like the change and the challenge of swimming in that pool, especially when it is set up for long course. I can’t remember now how much I did but I do remember that I had a great workout. I have also been swimming more at the Aquatic Center 25 yard pool which is deeper. I am not sure that I can explain why I prefer these pools now.
What I am working on
I’m still working on stroke and I imagine that I will be for some time. There is always something to tweak. It’s much better than it was but I still drop my arm too soon when I am breathing and I don’t always rotate right to breathe. I’m getting it though and will just keep working.
I also need to work on turns in the pool or, not taking a vacation at the wall as Sam likes to remind me. I finally understood how to turn faster with fins on this morning though I didn’t quite make it every time. It’s another thing I’ll keep working on. I still have not gotten back to working on flip turns since my surgery.
Endurance. In August I am scheduled to do my first International distance tri with a 1500 swim. I’ve been working on building up my endurance for that but I need to concentrate on that the next few weeks.
Not getting overwhelmed by everything. As Dave Scott said when he answered my question about Luray, I need to remember to “do what I can do in the moment” and then move on.
I know that I have made so much progress and that I have a great deal to look forward to. I’m excited about the goals I have set and I really do look forward to the work that it will take to achieve them. I’ll keep on working and let you know how it all goes.