Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Swim

Last night was the first night I woke up thinking about the race. OK to be exact, I woke up thinking about the swim. I don't fear the swim, I can do the swim, I just don't like the swim. I am a runner first! I enjoy running down all those triathletes with calf markings of less than 45 (particularly those in their 20s and 30s). I typically finish the run in the top 5% overall and I have made great strides on the bike, mostly likely top 20%. But back to the "swim".

My college roommate Chris O'Connell was a swimmer and held many school records up until a couple of years ago. So for a record to hold for 20 years he either was a good swimmer or the Fairfield Univ swim program sucked! I never did make it to one of his swim meets but then again I am not sure he ever made it to one of my soccer games. But he did see me swim once and said "when you swim you beat up the water". He was correct, it was bad. I can honestly say given the choice of running 15 miles or swimming 500 yards, no contest, give me my running shoes every time.

This brings me to 2005, approximately 18 years after my first triathlon where I introduced the side stroke and backstroke to triathlons. It was the last soccer game of the spring for the Over 30 league and I announced that I would not be back for the fall was time to learn how to swim and give triathlons a chance. I will go back to playing soccer someday, I'm sure there must be one person out there who would come watch me play.

The local Y was offering a "swim class for triathletes". Perfect...except that I am the only person who shows up and the "instructor" just writes workouts on the board. I did learn that I could disprove the laws of physics when I kicked and actually moved backwards but nothing more. Three weeks was all I could handle.

Fast forward a month to my kid's swim practice where I learned about a masters program, with a coach on deck at least once a week. I show up to practice in my baggy swim shorts (not quite ready for the speedo, actually never ready for the speedo, definitely more comfortable in the jammers) and swim a couple of laps for Coach Mike. Everybody should be as lucky to have Mike as their first swim coach. After 50 yards and completely out of breath, Mike stops me. Pretty sure he picked up on 14 things I was doing wrong but decided to concentrate on 2. He first asked me if I was holding my breath under water. What kind of question was that...of course I hold my you want me to drown? He then asked me if I held my breath when I ran. Not really needing to hear my answer he explained the whole exhaling while under water thing. Good to know. Next he introduced me to the "catch up" drill, letting me know that no Olympic records have ever been set using my windmill style approach.

For the past 5 years I have never swam less than 3 times a week. I went from swimming 2600 yards for my first hour swim to 3800 yards the last time. Put a pull buoy between my legs and I could go farther. My legs just sink...I love my wetsuit! I have gone from 2:10s on 100 to 1:40s on 100. Hopefully my typical top 35% swim will improve to top 30%.

So as Trent mentioned in his earlier posting about how I might be a little sensitive when talking about the "craziness" of the swim start, he is probably correct. So for all those people who decide to swim over me, under me or through me...remember one thing...I will run you down.

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