Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I've been thinking about my swimming lately. My swimming ... that's a pretty funny story. So, I grew up in the water. I was a fish. I spent all day, every day, in the summer at the pool. Starting at like age 6, I swam all day all summer. I was a lifeguard by age 14 and continued to lifeguard and teach lessons until 19. I was on the swim team and dive team when I was younger. I have always been a strong swimmer; BUT, what I have learned is that being a strong swimmer does not mean you are a fast swimmer.

I didn't swim for many many years. Then, a running injury put me back in the pool and I couldn't swim 4 laps without feeling like I was going to have a cardiac arrest! I was like WTF? I can run a marathon but I can't swim? Like anything, it just took some time. Before long, I was cranking out 2000m at a time. Little did I know, I still wasn't "training." A friend of mine convinced me to toss my hat into the triathlon ring. So, I added swimming and biking to my regular schedule. The moment of truth came at my first tri. I thought I was a fast swimmer. Funny. Really funny. I came out of the water so far back it wasn't funny. That was the moment of truth when I realized I sucked!!!!

The next season, I was talked into swimming at the lake with a group of triathletes. I was so nervous and had no idea what to expect. But hey, it's me ... so there I went. I was the last one out to the point and the last one back to the dock. This would be my place for quite a long time ... last. I kept swimming. Triathlons starts never got any easier. The anxiety I had at the start of every race drained my energy. I hated it. It was constant battle through the swim to keep positive thoughts ... to keep telling myself just get out of the water and go. Just get out of the water. Keep moving forward and get out of the water.

In 2007, I decided to train with the Masters group in Portland. Best decision I have ever made. I had a blast. I swam more yardage than ever and started to actually get faster! I had confidence! Wow! I was training for my second half IM and really getting after it. I wanted some revenge after my first half IM. Anyway, I kept building endurance and getting faster, but I was still the last one to the point and the last one to the dock on our open water swims. My new nickname was Nemo. Yes, Nemo.

I'm not sure what happened, but one day I put it in my mind that I was going to stay with the pack no matter what it took. I swam hard, got in a rhythm, and kept going. All of a sudden I feel someone grab my ankle. Huh? I stopped and turned around and Erin was like dude! WTF? I hit the point in the front for the first time ever. I was stoked! Then, we headed back and again, I was the first one back to the dock. Erin was just looking at me and finally was like ... "what the hell did you put in your Wheaties this morning?" Ha. The ironic part, it never happened again. Ever. I went into my half with a lot of confidence and ended up swimming slower than my first by a whole minute. Ugh.

That put me into a mind set that I couldn't swim. I started saying "I can't" and "I will never" and etc etc. That has stuck with me for two years. One of my best friends said to me this year, "Stop saying I can't!" He was kind of angry when he said it, okay REALLY angry, but I got it. It hasn't come easily but I did have two good swims this season ... Rhode Island 70.3 and the Colby Sprint Tri.

I started analyzing my swim training and making changes. I deciced that I'm not stepping to the line of my first IM without some confidence. and the training to back it up.

There will be no Nemo next season!


Elisa said...

Most important lesson learned from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming." Your ability to keep pressing on, conditioning and bettering yourself is inspirational. :)

Ange said...

oh I didn't know you were struggling so much with your swimming...in your head. :( I'll meet you for a swim some time and maybe I can give you a few tips? I agree, swimming with a group can help you a Lot!! I'd also love to hear what kind of workouts you do...you're so strong you CAN do this. I agree with your friend. No cAn'ts allowed. :)