Day 89: Swimming is Hard

I’ve started swimming lately. My first attempt was 22 days ago on July 6. Since then I’ve swam a total of 7 times.

The first time I swam, I only made it 500 meters in 30 minutes. The second time, I doubled up and swam a full kilometer in about 45 minutes. In some of my more recent attempts I’ve made it as far as a mile (1650 meters) but it’s taken me a little over an hour to go that far.

My latest swim was yesterday. It was 45 minutes long and I made it 1350 meters.

If you know anything about swimming you know that I am slow. Like, seriously S.L.O.W.

The challenge is that for the life of me I can’t go farther than 50 meters freestyle without stopping to catch my breath. That leads me to use either backstroke or breaststroke as a recovery stroke: 25 meters freestyle, 25 meters breast/backstroke, 25 meters freestyle, 25 meters breast/backstroke. If I take it really slow (and we’re talking slow for me, so this is glacial pace) I can make it 200 meters by alternating between freestyle and breast/backstroke every 25 meters. I did do one 100 meter freestyle set early on yesterday and during the last 25 meters wondered if this was how it was all going to end.

I cannot overemphasize how pitiful all of this is. My 8 year old would crush me in a 100 meter freestyle race, finish a full lap ahead, and then wonder if he needed to jump back in to haul my flailing ass out of the water.

Let me illustrate how pitiful this is. Yesterday, I was just about done. I had swam about 1200 meters and I could tell my son’s swim class was wrapping up. That was my queue to wrap up my swim session as well. Right then, another fellow jumped into the lane next to me. The fellow looked to be in pretty decent shape but he was at least 10 years my senior, several inches shorter, and outweighed me by a good 20 pounds. He dropped in the pool and proceeded to crank out lap after lap after lap of back-to-back freestyle. 5-6 minutes later, when I crawled out of the pool, he hadn’t stopped yet and had probably covered well over 500 meters non-stop freestyle at a pace considerably faster than my 25 meter pace.

What’s My Point

I don’t know. I’m not sure I have one.

I think what I’m trying to get at is that doing new things is hard and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. The first time I swam it took me 30 minutes to go 500 meters and I was done. Yesterday I swam 1350 meters in 45 minutes and would have kept going another 15 minutes (and reached 1650 meters) if my son’s swim class hadn’t ended.

Even though I’ve playfully compared myself to that other fellow in this post, in reality, I’m not comparing myself to him; at least, I’m not judging my performance in comparison to him.

I know that I’m giving it all I’ve got. I know that I’m getting better and stronger and growing more comfortable in the water. That’s what matters, not how I do relative to some other dude that for all I know is a former competitive swimmer who spends several hours in the pool every week.

Swimming is hard and it’s kicking my ass pretty thoroughly, but I’m sticking with it, slowly getting better, and that’s pretty rewarding.

Featured image by Richard R. Schünemann on Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Day 89: Swimming is Hard”

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I do need to look up some coaching, even if it’s just some online guidance on how to approach swimming. Went again today and managed to get in a number of 100 meter freestyle sequences, which I was pretty happy about. I think just having someone (virtually) talk me through my breathing and exertion levels would be really helpful.

    • Total Immersion looks awesome. Checked out a video or two today. Going to learn more about it this weekend and try it out.

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