This is a huge milestone for me. I started swimming lessons seven weeks ago because I didn’t know a damn thing, except that somehow I wanted to finish a triathlon.
I also started reading Total Immersion and I got tons of amazing tips from there, which I have been implementing over time. So I set out today with a goal of swimming 400m without stopping, which is the distance for the swimming portion of the Toronto Island Give-It-A-Tri. This is the race I was thinking of entering this August, but didn’t put on my list because I just wasn’t sure if I could get the swimming down.
I got to the pool early and was one of the first ones in the water. I swam 400m and felt great, so I kept going. There weren’t many other people there so I didn’t have any space issues. When I got to the end of the pool, I’d touch the wall and immediately swim back.
At 500m I looked up at the clock – 21 mins had passed. It literally felt like no more than 10 mins. So I kept swimming. I wasn’t pushing myself for speed, I just tried to concentrate on keeping perfect form. I also closed my eyes and practiced swimming in a straight line without visual aid. I found keeping my eyes closed to be highly soothing. I could concentrate on the movement of my body and get used to the feeling of the water flowing off of me in one direction – so that if I ever created any resistance with my form I would immediately feel it and self-correct.
At 600m the pool started to get more crowded and I was passing people. This was an additional challenge. For the most part I could keep my eyes closed and sense by the waves in the water whether there was someone directly in front of me. At that point I’d open my eyes and swim past them. The Total Immersion tip of keeping your arms in front of you for as long as possible (making your body longer) also helped in preventing me from swimming into people.
At 800m I noticed that my right hand was starting to cramp up. Not my arm, but my hand. From holding a cupped position. So I tried to relax my hand and I swam with stretched out fingers for a couple of meters.
When I hit the 1k mark I looked up at the clock again – 41 minutes. I didn’t feel tired and I wanted to keep going, but I decided it was best to give my hand a rest and come back another day.
Next time I’m planning to focus on relaxing my hands a lot more and getting in some more distance. Once I can swim for an hour without stopping, I will start counting my strokes and work on bringing down my stroke count. I’ll also continue to develop my form and start working on speed.
I’m seriously thinking about adding a triathlon to my race schedule this summer. But I don’t want to do the beginner tri anymore. I want to train for the full. It will be my first one, but most of my training will be with swimming. I already run insane distances and I’m not worried about biking. I don’t need to meet a time goal, I just want to do my best and see what happens. I can already run strong, and if I can swim strong I think I can finish really well.
I also heard there’s a barefoot runner who is doing the triathlon in Cobourg this year, so I may join him there. I have family in Cobourg so in that case they would probably come out to see me, which would be fun.