For the love of swimming

I knew going into triathlon that, of the three sports, the swim would be my weakest link. And I knew, after training in 2009 for my first Ironman, that I’d have some ground to make up on the bike and run because I wasn’t about to get out of the water first unless the race directors gave me a thirty-minute head start.

Granted, I didn’t spend that much time focusing on my swim last year. I swam in training to survive the 2.4 miles. I focused more on swimming when getting bashed in the ribs than swimming fast. But I did learn a few things from just the few triathlons I have done thus far – to find feet, to find rhythm, and to put yer head down and go.

This year, I decided to focus more on my swim, and by that I meant: Get in the pool at least twice a week. Don’t be a Nancy. But then I started thinking to myself, maybe twice a week isn’t enough. I want to be faster, stronger, better this year. One component of that is to be a faster, stronger, better swimmer. I know (from experience) that the only way to get faster at swimming is to swim more (than once in a blue moon). I know that I can survive the 2.4miles, so why not try to get fast at it (or fast, in a relative sense of the word)?

So, along with the drama from my mamma (bear) and her perils of swimming as of late, I’ve decided to set a few performance goals for myself. Since my outcome goal is to improve my overall long course performance so I can gain an edge on the age group girlies, I’m going to have to do a few specific things in order for that to happen. Thus, my specific performance goals for this season are as follows:

  1. Swim a 100yd in 1:20
  2. Swim a 500yd in under 7:15
  3. Swim 1.2mi in a half around 30minutes

Since there aren’t many times that I’ll get a chance to swim 1.2miles this season, it is going to be hard to chip away at a time, but I’m shooting for around 30minutes. My best is 33:31, so I think knocking off three and a half minutes won’t be too impossible, considering my training history for swimming. However, I have a feeling it is going to be tough to do.

So, today was one-step-closer to reaching my goals, but the ladder is still very long and very tall. I did a decent set around 4500yds, spent over an hour and a half in the brominated waters, and didn’t feel discouraged once. I jumped in around 6:40am to the only empty lane and got to work, occasionally taking sips off my bottle of EFS (definitely one of those people that has to drink something non-chlorinated during swim workouts).

1000yd warmup– with 200yd rotations of free, kick, and pull
free on the 1:00, with descending 1-5 and 6-10 (5 and 10 being the fastest, 1 and 6 being recovery)
5x100yd free on the 1:45
5x100yd free on the 1:45
1000yd cooldown and technique drills

After a while, I was one of two people left in the pool. It felt good to have got so much in without feeling bored or tired, but toward the end of the cooldown my calf hinted at a cramp. Good thing it was time to get outta the pool and get to my real job!

I think, for my entire life, I have always had a good time swimming, I just … forgot how to have fun. Swimming became a chore last year, the least favorite of the three sports for me. I dreaded going, I’d call workouts before I got to 2000yds, and I was just plain sissy. I don’t know why, but somehow I now feel stronger and faster in the water. Maybe its my flashy new swimsuits? Less stress at work? More comfort in knowing that I can accomplish big things? Even if I’m not faster/more comfortable, I feel like I am, and maybe that’s why I am enjoying it more. I know that swimming doesn’t have to be a chore, it doesn’t have to be something that I “have” to do, and I am starting to enjoy it. Finally!

OH! And I almost forgot: I wanted to add some tips I learned way-back-in-the-day when I swam in middle school and things I’ve picked up over the last year.

  • Take a shower with your suit on!
    • Not because you should be embarrassed to be naked, but because it is good for the life of the suit. You want to get the bromine out of the suit as much as you can so that the suit doesn’t dry-rot in your locker. It happens. Just delay it!
  • Lather up!
    • Luckily, I’m not blonde, so I never had to deal with green-hair. But, I used to get terribly bad split ends and dry, crackly hair from swimming every day. I think back then, I just went through a bottle of conditioner a week or something ridiculous (or maybe I used those hair conditioning treatments that smell like perm? I don’t remember).
    • Now, I have Tri-Swim, and it is awesome. My comb actually runs through my hair after a shower, even if I don’t use the conditioner, and my skin isn’t flaky and dry. And I smell like I am in the tropics. It’s so nice (and it’s so almost gone).

  • Spin your suit!
    • If your pool has a spinner, use it! It’s much better for your suit than wringing it out (which, for what its worth, you should not do!! Just like you shouldn’t wring out your hair!)
    • The spinner in our pool is called a SuitMate, and it is routine for me to shower, spin, and then get dressed.
  • Hang dry the suit by both ends or lay it flat!
    • I might be paranoid because my last suit stretched apart incredibly prematurely. Either that, or the mixture of bromine in the pool is off. Whatever the case, I learned that my suit can become too big for me, especially in the straps. I only have a locker, though, and I’m not about to leave my suit out for someone else to snag.
    • My trick? I hang my suit by the straps, as well as the crotch. That way, the weight of the damp suit (it shouldn’t be dripping wet because of the SuitMate) isn’t pulling on just the thin spaghetti straps, and I don’t have to worry about the suit showing my non-existant cleavage during a future swim. Another trick is to put a bar across the inside of the locker and drape the suit over it, but I haven’t got around to getting a bar yet!

I also want to say, I loooove Splish suits. My Trakkers suits are the first I’ve had of Splish, and they are not quite like the Speedos I’ve used in the past. They are snug but not restricting, and they are super comfy. I don’t feel like I have to pick a wedgie all the time, or pull the suit up on my chest, or adjust a dang thing. They just fit, and fit right. The fabric is different than a Speedo (my Splish suit seems more wicking/water resistant than any Speedo I’ve had), and its double-lined around the entire suit. Plus, the company designs suits for whatever the customer wants. If I wanted to make a suit that said “I am a badass”- they would print it for me with cool lettering and any strange icon I want. Amanda Lovato has some kookie ones with unicorns and rainbows, and I’m tempted to shop around for some brightly colored and outrageous ones next time I need a new one. So, extra cudos to Splish for designing such a great suit!

4 thoughts on “For the love of swimming

  1. I feel like I’m in that funk that you were in last year. I’ve been avoiding swimming all year really only going once in a while. The thing is, I need to get my act together to survive my HIM in September. I really don’t want to be the last on out of the water. I’m slow and awkward. More swimming should help that! Thanks for being that extra bit of motivation!

  2. Great post, and one hell of a swim workout. Congrats.

    I was all jacked up about the prospects of getting a Trakkers team Splish suit, until I realized that for guys the suit was an overgrown banana hammock. Glad your’s is rockin!


  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one that showers in my suit after a pool swim.

    Definitely keep your blog updated with progress towards reaching those goals! I’ve been working on getting my act together in the swim this year and am slowly making some progress.

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