Today was a huge milestone – I completed my first Masters swim practice and didn’t drown! I do not consider myself a “swimmer” but I am thankful for the base I received from a few short summers of swim team. Freestyle and breaststroke were my favorites. I wasn’t particularly good at either of them but they were much better than my Back or Fly.
I looked at three swimming programs/locations in my area before settling on one. One group had three workouts to choose from (all 5:15 – 6:15am), another group had four workouts a week to choose from (two morning, two evening), and the third group had twelve workouts to choose from. After getting some much appreciated insight and advice from a friend’s husband who is an excellent swimmer and whose relay team recently won at the Music City Triathlon here in Nashville, I emailed each of the coaches to find out more about their programs. I wanted to find the right fit for a slow swimmer/triathlon newbie who would like to get in shape, lose weight, improve her skills and speed, and have fun in the process. The three programs were similar but each coach had a very different writing style. It just so happened that I chose the program with the most welcoming response – the third group. There’s a morning practice that starts at 6:45am – way better than 5:15am. I admire all of you who are naturally early risers. I was not definitely not blessed with that trait. Since I have to be at work around 6:30am, driving there on my mornings off at the same time might help my erratic sleep schedule to be more consistent. Of course I’m not able to swim on days I work but I can swim the following evening, after a nap. The coach replied to my email promptly saying that their program was a great fit. She has coached several triathletes before, a few of which won the Music City Triathlon and went on to do well in Ironman races and at nationals. While this was encouraging I shared with her that my goal was
just to complete it! She was out of town this week but tailored a workout for me based on my “fast” 200 taking a little over 4 minutes. Great, right?
I arrived at the Rec Center just in time to join. I got directions to the pool and arrived at 6:45 on the dot. I met another coach who was told to look out for me. I grabbed a pull buoy and kick board from the shelf (they even have fins for everyone!), set my water bottle under the block then jumped in. I warmed up on my own until 7, then practice officially started. I got to swim in the next lane over from the coach so I could ask questions if needed and so that she could evaluate my stroke and kick. She swam the workout with us! The pool has the capability of up to 15 lap lanes. We swam in the ones in the deep end, which meant treading water between sets. The coach assigned each of us different distances in each set for the same intervals. And I had a slow friend! I don’t remember the workout exactly but I think this is pretty close to what I did:
Warm Up 100m x2
Pull 125m x6 on 3:20
Swim 75m + stroke 25m x5 on 2:30
Swim 50m x6 on 1:20
Kick 50m x7 with 5-7 seconds rest
Cool down 50m
That’s 2,150 meters, or 1.34 miles, in an hour and 10 minutes. I know that isn’t much compared to what everyone else was doing but that’s the furthest I’ve swum in one workout since 2001. It felt great. I paced myself but by the end I ready to be done. The toughest part – reading the pacing clock. For one, my goggles kept fogging up. And secondly, I’ve never used a pace clock before. I usually look at my watch. The interval time is from the start of each set. For example, if it takes me 3:00 to pull 75m then I have 20 seconds rest before starting the next one. The guy in the lane next to me started counting down “10… 5… Go” for everyone. Thank you, Mr. Fast Swimmer college student! The girl I shared a lane with didn’t like to wear goggles so she kicked the entire workout. I wish my legs were that awesome! She put on fins half way through. It was a tad discouraging that her kick with fins was faster than my regular freestyle. No, I’m not competitive at all. Oh well. I joined this group to improve, not to compare. It’s going to be a slow journey but we all have to start somewhere, right? All in all it was a great workout. I’m looking forward to going back!
So I took a leap and tried something new. How about you? What new challenges have you taken on lately?