Some time after I joined WITC, it occured to me that this was actually a triathlon club. Under the circumstances, it only seemed appropriate that I give one of these other sports a try. In the bleak, cold, dark winter, swimming in an indoor pool did have some appeal. So in late January this year, I returned to a sport I abandoned in 1985.
At six years old, I decided swim team was not for me. But with a half marathon under my belt and an enthusiastic group of active friends around me, I thought maybe it was time to give it another try. After all, the idea of the triathlon peaked my interest. Could I do it? Did I want to? If I didn’t enjoy swimming, the answer would be easy.
I had to track down the right gear (a proper swimsuit for starters) and re-learn the etiquette of a lap pool. I also had to convince myself it was worth the effort. After all, part of the appeal of running is the ease with which it can be done. If you have the shoes, you can start your workout from the moment you walk out your door. Starting my swim required a bus, a tram, a costume change, a shower and a fee. Without the lure of the triathlon, I probably never would have given it a try.
I’ll admit, swimming itself was not terribly exciting for me at first, but I left the pool feeling invigorated. It was such a different feeling from finishing a run. The body was tired but the mind alert, and this is true every time I swim. In fact, I always have trouble winding down for bed after our Thursday night swim trainings that end at 10 pm.
A few weeks after I began swimming, Ken organized a weekly coach-led training, at which point I realized I had a lot to learn. I think Tomek, our coach, had something else in mind when he signed up to train an international group of triathlon hopefuls. For most of us, he had to break down our stroke and rebuild it again. I’m not sure if it was harder or easier with those who didn’t have a stroke in the first place.
Being re-taught how to swim freestyle is a humbling experience. I felt a bit like the clumsy kid in swim team again, which can be disconcerting at 33. However, my improvements in endurance and style are concrete and tangible in just a few months. What a simple pleasure that is, and one I don’t often experience in other aspects of my life. Last week, I made my first attempt at swimming non-stop the 750 meter distance we will face in Susz, and I completed it well within the allowed time period. That felt great!
I still need to work on my style, and I hope to improve my time. But we have a triathlon in six weeks. Now it’s time to buy a bike….
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