At one point in my life, I decided to do a Triathlon.
I was a good runner and could survive on the bike for that time, so I just had to apply my fitness to get through the water.
As a lifeguard throughout High School, I knew “how” to swim and was comfortable in the water, but I knew I could use some training for the race, so I signed up for a local master swim club to own the 1.2-mile swim.
I donned my Speedo and brand-new goggles, confidently strolled into my first practice and was instructed to get into one of six lanes based on my ability.
Everyone in Lane 1 was lean and over 6-foot tall. I couldn’t hop in with the best on Day 1, but I envisioned how I would humbly start in the middle with the common folk, and the coach would promptly send me up as she recognized my athleticism.
I felt confident leading off the lane with the older and more portly group, but I immediately got my ass kicked. I swam about two lengths before getting lapped and downgraded to lane 6.
And even among the slowest group, I was struggling to survive.
I persisted in Lane 6, believing that I would get better. But after weeks of struggle, the coach gently told me that I didn’t know how to swim and was only fighting the water.
From that point, I went back to square one, and rather than swimming laps, I practiced floating. And I sucked at that too.
However, I steadily improved and became one with the water.
With special drills, I learned about balance and rotation and how to unhook the anchor I was pulling through the pool.
I was still in lane 6 when I returned to practice, but now enjoying my workouts.
The Value of Swimming
More than enjoying my workouts, I especially loved the feeling after a one-hour swim.
The experience was meditative. The combination of cold water, steady and consistent breathing, and an hour to think were invigorating.
Plus, my body felt good. After learning to glide through the water, I could appreciate the aerobic work that wasn’t as jarring on the joints as pounding the pavement on the run or grinding out hours on the bike.
In short, if you’re an athlete who loves to grind, take a brief hiatus and learn to swim. You may find a workout you love and can push yourself, or for me, I no longer aspire for lane one and use it as an active recovery tool.
Swim Like A. Fish
If you’re wondering where to start, look no further than our swim partner Abbie Fish (you can check out their new Dryland Training program on the Crossover Symmetry Training Zone.)
They have put together a fantastic toolbox of training tools for everyone, from elite swimmers to meatheads who want to become proficient at something new.
If your story is like mine, you should be interested in their Swim Course for CrossFit. Even if you don’t do CrossFit, it will help any newbie swimmer get more comfortable in the pool.
Or, roll your eyes about my swimming struggle, keep kicking butt in those top lanes and check out tools designed for elite swimmers.