Well, May is almost over, so I better catch up and report on my April challenge. My goal for April was: “Swimming – Total Immersion. Try to find a buddy. Swim more often – make this my priority.” I will give myself a B- for my April goal.
First, a bit about my history of swimming. When I was a child I was on the swim team for a period of time. I do not recall if it was one year or a few more, but it was definitely only in elementary school, and let’s just say it didn’t turn me into a star swimmer. But, I grew up around water and have always loved it. In college it was part of my overall fitness routine. I recall going to the pool a few mornings a week (I’m guessing 2-3, but this is a distant memory, and perhaps it was one year during college or all 4, memory is an odd thing). I would swim continuously for a mile, very slowly and maintaining the same, consistent, slow pace.
From 2004 to 2013 or so, I didn’t swim a lot. I started up again as I became more and more involved in triathlon. A few years ago I was swimming 5 times a week, last year’s training was down to 3 or 4, and in the off season when I am not training for anything in particular it had dropped off even more. Hence, at the time of this challenge, I had a schedule to swim twice a week, but it was often the first thing to drop and I was swimming once a week more often than not, and only for about 30 minutes.
When I really started getting into triathlon, after a couple of years I got up the nerve to join the local Masters swimming group. There are Masters groups all over the country, and they provide instruction and structured workouts for adults. Some also provide a competitive atmosphere and there are races for adults who are interested. This was great for me, and it really helped my swimming. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to join a Masters group. However, about a year ago I quit as part of a reduction in expenditures as I was planning to quit my job to pursue health coaching and mediation full time.
I had heard about a program called Total Immersion from a few different sources, (one was an interview of the founder, Terry Laughlin with Tim Ferris right before Mr. Laughlin passed away this past year), and I wanted to try it in April and potentially get a group together so that we could watch each other doing drills to give feedback on what we actually look like versus what we think we look like. In April I did purchase a program, and I asked someone to go through it together. The timing wasn’t right for us to connect, but we may form a group in the fall to go through it together. And while I certainly could have gone through it on my own, or asked others, I didn’t. But because I took active steps in the direction and think that I will revisit it when I have a little more time and when the weather turns us back inside, I’m going with a B- grade on this.
Additionally, I did up my swimming starting in the month of April. I am now swimming a pretty solid 3 times per week, which includes one swim a little longer on the weekends. I may be cheating a little bit here, because I also signed up for my third Ironman race (mid-November), so I am also happily back to following a training plan which includes 3 swims per week and makes it less negotiable.
If you are thinking about triathlon, but worried about the swim portion, I encourage you to look into Total Immersion, and/or Masters programs. Because triathlon is really driving the adult swim industry, most Masters groups focus on triathlon and often will teach you specific skills, such as sighting so that you can efficiently stay on the course for open water swims. If possible for you, finding a swim coach or triathlon coach who can work with you individually is another super step, but if not possible right now, just keep getting in the pool (or better yet, find a group that swims together at a lake or the ocean). My experience is that getting better at swimming takes time, time, and more time of just getting in the pool and moving, and exploring how to move faster through the water. I am still not fast at all, but I have seen improvements over the years that largely come from just showing up, getting in, and doing the laps, along with some drills. You can incorporate triathlon skills on your own as well. Look in any tri book, or online, for tips about race/open water swimming. If you try any of these, I would love to hear how it goes! Happy Swimming!