Thursday, April 23, 2009

What took me so long... do a lunchtime swimming workout? It felt *fantastic*!

I've always loved swimming. I remember taking swimming lessons when I was four or five years old and loving it! We had a park pool that was open only during the summertime when I was growing up, and I remember pressing my face to the bars in the late spring and watching it fill, anticipating when I could go. And when it finally opened, woo hoo! I would go for swimming lessons in the morning, then spend entire afternoons at the pool.

When I was a teenager, I moved in with my mom and step-dad. We had a pool in the condo complex, but no lifeguard, so I didn't feel comfortable swimming there alone. But we did live near an excellent beach for swimming, and I'd be out there paddling around while my friends basked in the sun (booooooring!). We didn't have a community or school pool, so no swimming as a sport. Bummer.

When college rolled around, I kind of lost interest in swimming. Oh, I still liked it for recreation, but I just wasn't interested in exercise in general, so I never thought to figure out a way to make swimming happen regularly. (Perhaps it was my thing about locker rooms. Which was why I didn't really take to gym workouts back then, either. That, and too much jumping up and down in aerobics classes. This was before they started making heavy duty sports bras for the bountiful ta-tas.) I did a little aqua aerobics after I graduated and got a job, but then I got married and moved to yet another beach town with no obvious place to swim. (Ocean waters are much colder and more hazardous here. I didn't know about Master's swimming or know that we did have a pool in town with lap swimming during the summer months.)

Anyhow, fast forward to the present. I finally thought to myself, "Okay, I can get in a lunchtime workout at the gym, and I've gotten over my mild locker room phobia. Surely there must be a place around here to go swimming!" I researched online, and I found a community pool that's only 6 miles from work. For a long time, it seemed too far to go for a lunch workout, but now that I'm training for the triathlon, I knew I needed to get off my duff and just try it.

So today was the big day: I drove to the pool. The locker room was pretty much empty, except for a few swimmers who'd finished their Master's workout. I suited up and hopped in the water. It was wooooooonderful! It hardly felt like working out! I swam for a half hour, lost count of the laps. I'm guesstimating at least 20 lengths (I was swimming a length in 1-1.5 minutes), so even now I'd be able to do the swim portion of my sprint tri in less than a half hour. I alternated between freestyle and "recovery" strokes, like breaststroke and side stroke, with a few elementary back stroke lengths thrown in for fun. Strength and distance on the freestyle will come, I figure. I'll also need to find an opportunity for doing some open water swimming this summer.

I found, though, that I am no longer a human flotation device. I used to be able to lay completely horizontally on the top of the pool and totally relax, hands behind my head, like I was laying in a hammock. Now my legs sink right to the bottom. I know it's a good thing--more muscle--but I did have a little twinge of nostalgia for floaty-me.

I could have swam for the rest of the day, but I had to get back to work. I know it probably won't be this quiet during the summertime, but it was just heavenly. (And I got a whole lane all to myself!) On the way back, I was pondering it all. I know I get busy with work, but I've made time in the past for shopping during lunch (recreational and necessity), and library runs, and eating out. (And, after I started exercising but before I joined the gym, lunchtime walks.) What on earth took me so long to go swimming?


Anonymous said...

Yahoo! Good job on the swim!

When I did my tri in 2006, my hubby was most worried with the swim part - I am not a good swimmer by any means!

I practiced in a pool, but he kept telling me "you can't touch your foot down in a lake!"

You should have seen his look of relief when I got out of the water!! It was priceless!

Pubsgal said...

Wow, Biz! I didn't know you did a triathlon! I'll have to email you offline to find out more. The swim part is what's worrying mine, too. I think he's relieved that it's a lake swim and not an ocean swim. :-)

Anonymous said...

Pubsgal! I think you put the final cog in my decision to join the gym! Since going to my P.T. the past 3 weeks I have looked longingly at the pool (empty) as I go in.

My whole history of swimming is much like yours, including the locker room phobia. That was followed closely by the 'I don't want anyone to see my fat body phobia' followed by the current, 'I don't want anyone to see my wrinkled body' phobia! But your description of how lovely the water was, and what an effortless workout it was, have hooked me!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh I love swimming too. Swimming allow me to keep fit and healthy!

Crabby McSlacker said...

That's so wonderful that you've rediscovered a form of exercise you love! Makes it so much easier to get in a workout when it's a joy and not a chore.

Shannon (The Daily Balance) said...

nice job on the swim!! ;)

Juice said...

Yay for finding something that you love!!!! Way to go!

Christie O. said...


i started to get nervous and scared with all this "stroke" talk. is it bad that i know one form and it pretty much is something like putting my arms out one by one and propelling myself, with some kicking involved?

i'm in trouble aren't i?

(ps. good job on the swim!)

Pubsgal said...

Christie O.: No way! You're going to do great. I've just been reading too much. ;-) And I took a lot of swim lessons as a kid.

From what I've read, your "recovery stroke" is supposed to be what you do when you get tired of freestyle and need an easier stroke to catch your breath and take a rest, while still moving forward. (In other words, I switch it up a lot because I'm out of shape. ;-)

Quick reference of swim strokes:
freestyle: the one you're talking about.
breast stroke: the one that makes you look like a frog.
elementary back stroke: the one that makes you look like a frog swimming on its back.
side stroke: this one is a little trickier to describe. You're on your side, of course. The bottom arm reaches forward, like you're picking an apple, then you pass it to the upper arm, which pushes back from you, like you're dropping the apple in a bucket by your feet. The legs move in a frog-like manner: the knees tuck up when you're reaching, then kick out in a V when you're "passing the apple," then scissor together when you're "dropping the apple."

SeaBreeze said...

I'm glad you thoroughly enjoyed your swimming workout. Its a great way to diversify the impact that you're giving to your joints. Are you going to try to fit them in more often?