Nemo and Dory. {Just keep swimming…}

IMG_1435Nemo and especially Dory,  have become new role models for me.

I feel like I’m a lot like Dory.  Optimistic, helpful, and while she suffers from short-term memory loss; I’m simply easily distracted.

Nemo and dory.jpg

But the real reason I love this pair?

I’m learning how to swim. Learning how to be in public in a swimsuit, learning a new skill, learning to love it.

Learning a ton of new stuff.

I knew how to dog paddle and tread water.  I could swim to save my life. I can do a handstand and somersault in shallow water to show off for my nephews. That’s it.

But using swimming for exercise?  Uh… No.

I took lessons for a full year a few years back.  At the very beginning of this health journey I wanted to do a Ironman.  And then I realized — you have to be able to swim. And if I really wanted to do a triathlon, I better figure out the water part.

So I buckled down and got some ‘adult learner’ swim lesson with a very patient swim coach named Troy.  He worked hard to help me get over my fears and teach me the basics.  I’m asthmatic and claustrophobic.  Putting my face in the water and then trying to breathe — well…  It took some work.  A lot of work.  A lot of blowing bubbles and coating me off the side of the pool.  Secretly, my commitment to working with Troy was also my commitment to getting over my anxiety at being in public in a bathing suit. It was the first step to trying to get ready for a triathlon — which I wanted to do from the very beginning of my health journey.  But it was ALWAYS the swimming that stopped me.

So I found a coach to give up on the lame excuses and see if I could make it happen…  Troy was working into a whole lot of baggage some of which he didn’t even know about.  And he never batted an eye.   Just helped me learn and get comfortable with the water.

He had to stop coaching me when he went to PT school. I was mostly focused on ultra’s, so it was easy to abandon swimming.  The whole exercise/cardio/water-in-the-face/breathing thing was something I just couldn’t seem, to figure out on my own.   Resigned to the fact that triathlons were just not going to be my sport – I bailed out of the pool.

I can now — two years later — appreciate how well Troy set me up for the time when I would want to actively re-engage in learning on my own. (Thank you Troy.)

I want some cross-training in my world.  I really do want to do a triathlon. It was TIME to add something else in the activity mix.  I got back in the pool in March mostly because of an injured Achilles.  It swiftly became a ‘get to’ not a ‘have to’  And the ‘get to’ led to a HUGE attitude shift.  Instead of ‘pools are where injured runners skulk and recover’ to ‘can I get better, figure out the breathing and use swimming like I use running?’

Yes I can.

I’m loving being in the ‘newbie’ stage of a new sport.

I’ve learned a few things in the past few weeks that might be helpful for other newbies:

  • Chlorine makes everything smell. All the time. No escape. I’m about ready to shave my head.
  • When elastic gives out in your bathing suit…  It goes instantly. Poof.  I had a near miss with a boob almost flopping out of an armhole mid-stroke.
  • Goggles are blinders. They fog, they slip… Spit, baby shampoo — I can’t seem to battle the fog no matter the suggested hack.
  • A cold, damp swimsuit early in the morning is evil.
  • Swim caps don’t do a damn thing except rip hair out.
  • When someone in your lane accidentally physically connects with you during lap swim — even lightly – you instantly know you are being attacked by a shark.

I can swim a mile. 🙂  And deeply enjoy it.  I have to stop at the end of the pool on most lengths, but it’s getting better weekly.  I’m getting stronger.

I’m driven to get more competent with this skill. By the end of summer I want to be able to swim a meditative, mile, non-stop.

Thank goodness for patient friends who send you videos, teach you terminology, give you on-the-deck, goofy/funny, dry-land re-enactments of what you should be doing in the water.  Grateful for the friends who spend time in the water with me and are understanding of my new desire to learn this skill.

What new skill are you learning?!  Please share. 🙂  I want to hear the good, the bad, the funny. 🙂