It probably took me a full year to learn how to swim. I was seriously considering doing the “Iron Girl” race in Grimsby as my triathlon in 2014, just because it went along the shoreline and allegedly they would let you walk/splash through it if you were really struggling. In may of 2014 I could not cross one length of the pool (and we are talking about suburban 25 m one). But I promised I would do a triathlon. I needed to learn.
So how did I start swimming? First of all, keep in mind, before joining the pool, I knew how to slowly doggy paddle out of the harm’s way if I needed to. So if you are absolutely do not know what are you doing or have a fear of water you probably should take some proper classes at first. But if you sort of have your ducks in a row, you are OK to do what I did.
So there I was, in the summer of 2014 – at the edge of the pool, not knowing how to cross it. Sure, the 16 week training program said to develop a strong stroke and alternate between breast and freestyle. But since it had nothing to do with the doggy paddle, I decided to work on crossing the 25 m obstacle, just the way I knew how. I took a breath and jumped in the water. It probably looked like that Canadian Tire commercial about a kids bicycle race, but personally I felt like a star working my way towards the opposite wall. Hey, I was swimming.
Somehow I developed this Frankenstein style, where I have a freestyle kick and move my arms in proper breaststroke. I am sure, it is wrong and you should learn the right way from the beginning if you can, but I didn’t and it got me through 2 races – so I am sticking with it until I learn something more proper.
While I agree that you should learn the right way first call mine I still think that the search for perfection should not stop you from trying something you might like. Alex still does not have a perfect stroke, but he is doing very well in his races.
You see, the beauty of multisport is that you do you not have to be perfect in all these things. You just need to have consistency and determination. Well, and maybe, you have to be a bit better than everyone else at it.
So about consistency, I personally believe that it is the main reason I succeeded this year. It applies to things other than swimming as well, but since we are talking about this particular leg of a triathlon, I have to admit, it played a huge role.
I went to the pool every Saturday morning (7 AM seem to be the best time in our city). I jumped in the water and tried to swim as far as I could, for as many lanes as I would fit in before having to put a foot down and and catch my breath. Since I needed a reassurance that I could swim just under 400m in one shot, I would not touch the bottom every time I turned around. Afterall, there is no shallow end every 50 m in the race.
At one point I could do enough length to feel confident about the race. But I still coming to the pool. I guess that was my “endurance” component. I would do 400m, stop, then go for another as many lanes as I could fit in my half an hour slot.
In that time, I learned that it is not the end of the world if you are stuck behind a slower person (since I had no technique or speed, I spend my practices in the slow lane with kids and seniors), I learned to pass people, and learn not to freak out when someone touched my toes.
Sometimes, I would go on on a Sunday as well and work on my speed. Funny enough, the only time that worked with our schedule was at the pool that keeps water around 88°F (31°C, or a bath for some people) while it was a horrible choice for speed, I’m almost sure it prepared me for a hot day at Guelph Lake II. I would push off the wall and swim there and back as fast as I could. When I stopped, I would see my time, wait until the full minute and go again. At first I did not believe it would work, but then I realized that I went from barely making it under 3 minutes, to having about 20 seconds to spare.
But you have to have fun sometimes, so every time, mid-workout, Alex would race me. I would have to swim 50 m and he would have to do 100. We would push off the wall and see who comes back first. At one point, I was beating him by a lot, and we even considered adding a few more meters to both distances.
And finally, we all know that we, humans, do you most of the things for the show and bragging rights. So little bit of grace would not hurt anyone. That was the reasoning behind my third type of training sessions. Very rarely, not even every two weeks, I would make Alex teach me how to swim freestyle. Well, most of the times, our attempts resulted in me getting mad. However, once in awhile, I could cross the pool, looking like a crazy person but with my head under the water most of the time and hands splashing in a somewhat proper freestyle.
Well, this was my recipe for success survival