May 19, 2008

Let Go

My new pool membership kicked in today so I decided to take advantage of it. The adult lap swim hours are 7-10 a.m. so I waited until 9 to hopefully swim with a more leisurely crowd. I located the pool, got ready and was in the water at 9:30. My timing was perfect. There were only four other swimmers so we each had our own lane, and two of them were older women who were floating on their backs for very slow laps. Of course, the guy in the lane next to me looked like he had been there since 7 and seemed tireless, but you figure there has to be at least one of these people every time you go.

If I had to choose just one word to describe my experience today, it would be "disaster." I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was as though everything I had learned previously just slipped out of my mind and my form was truly abominable. It was very inefficient and therefore, exhausting. I ended up having to stop after every length to catch my breath. I think the lifeguard was appalled and thought she might actually have to dive in to rescue me in the four-foot waters. I struggled and struggled and made it about 14 laps and was thinking of throwing in the towel, but there were 10 minutes remaining in the session and I had been aiming for 18 laps so I decided to suck it up and try some more.

It was at this point that I let go of my expectations, my concerns over "doing it right," my thoughts about what the other swimmers or lifeguard must be thinking (which, by the way, I'm sure were hilarious thoughts) and just swam. I'm not going to say that I miraculously was able to do it well, but it was remarkably easier and I finally felt comfortable. In my final two laps, I think I discovered why breathing has been so hard for me and adjusted my form to be able to do it much more comfortably. I hit my 18th lap and very happily got out of the pool.

They say Olympic athletes use positive visualization to help achieve their goals. I try to visualize myself actually swimming, and making it several laps before I have to stop and rest. But for some reason, this just doesn't work for me. Instead, I overthink it and before I know it, I can barely stay afloat and I'm desperately reaching for the edge of the pool for a break. I'm hoping it will be like learning a foreign language, where you wake up one morning and realize you dreamed in that language and finally speak it fluently. I'm hoping that one day soon, something will just click for me and I'll realize I'm finally swimming. Until then, I will go every day I possibly can and keep trying. After all, someone has to keep that lifeguard entertained.

Sport - Swimming
Distance - 18 laps (.25 miles)
Time - 30:00

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