Swimming Again…After a 20-Year Hiatus

This morning, I ran into one of my former coworkers at the pool. He asked me what was new.

“Oh, just getting back into swimming,” I replied, like it’s possible to “get back into” something you haven’t done since you were a Tadpole or Seahorse or whatever the swim-class code name is for kids who’ll be entering second grade in the fall.

This cat is getting back into swimming, too!

This cat is getting back into swimming, too!

Yes, it has been almost 20 years since I learned to swim. Unfortunately, the only thing that stuck with me was the ability to not-drown in water that’s deeper than I am tall.

And, even more unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until I attempted to take an intermediate swimming class in college—intermediate because the beginners class was for people who were “afraid of the water.” I wasn’t afraid of the water. I could not-drown, dammit!

“Give me your best freestyle,” the instructor said on the first day. My classmates dove in, front-crawling like bosses. I doggie-paddled.

“You need to put your face in the water,” she told me. I complied, inhaling every time I turned my head and exhaling…never. I made it halfway across the pool before I had to stop to tread water and let out all the air I’d taken in.

The instructor pulled me aside as I was leaving. “Perhaps you should be in the beginners class,” she said. Embarrassed, I shuffled back to my dorm room. I was relieved to receive an email a few days later saying that, due to scheduling conflicts, the class had been canceled.

Because of this experience, I was afraid to even try to relearn to swim for years. At our company pool, I’d be the one weirdo aqua-jogging, and I was cool with that.

But a few weeks ago, thanks to some overeager training, my IT band was giving me grief. And swimming is the only cardio activity that doesn’t aggravate that kind of injury.

I went to the pool with Paul, planning on kickboarding the morning away, my head safely above the water. He was borrowing my goggles—yes, the ones I used during the Swim Class Incident—and once he took them off to do some kickboarding himself, I put them on.

I practiced breathing out into the water while using the kickboard, like a Tadpole or Seahorse might do. It felt awfully awkward at first—and sounded louder with my head submerged than I expected—but I pressed on. By the end of the session, it was all coming back to me.

The next time I went, I decided to try a lap of breaststroke. I’d been watching Paul do it, and it seemed the most familiar. Success! I swam down and back with only minor sputtering.

I’ve been going regularly for a few weeks now, and I’ve worked up to going down and back twice before having to take a break. And today, I did that eight times, for a total of 16 down-and-backs (laps?), for a total of 1600 meters (right? It’s an Olympic-sized pool), which is about a mile. Breaks and all, I’ll take it.

Being a newbie is kind of fun. But that’s a topic for another post.


About Meghan Loftus

This entry was posted in Not About Running. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s