“There’s nothing natural about the way you swim.”
With those words of wisdom, Double D finished his first 90-minute lesson with me in the swimming pool. And that assessment didn’t exactly mean I was ready to challenge Michael Phelps anytime soon.
I have never been a strong swimmer. I mean, I can stay afloat and have even navigated out of a couple of of riptides, but in signing up for the Nation’s Triathlon in September, my first three-part race, I knew swimming would easily be my weakest link.
Double D, who’s a friggin’ dolphin in the water, is a former water polo player and my swimming teammate in June’s Charlottesville Tri (team name: Tripartisan Support). He offered to help me learn some swimming techniques and has been trying to get me in the water for awhile.
My breathing was inconsistent. The 25-meter lanes seemed endless. My “splashy” strokes made me look like a dying walrus out there. Double D instructed me patiently, though, giving me several different exercises to try, such as freestyle, backstroke, frog-leg kicks, and some weird eel-like move that made me swallow half the pool.
All around me, swimmers glided through the water effortlessly. I’m sure I sounded like a whiner as I complained to Double D about a variety of things: when to breathe, how to move my arms, my inability to keep a straight axis, blah blah blah shut up. Even when I did swim somewhat correctly, going two laps — 50 meters — was so difficult my form would break and I’d struggle.
If there’s one positive, though, it’s that I’ve realized how much work I need early. So I’ll be hitting the pool at least once a week as I balance running and strength training. I will soon have to map out a training plan that also incorporates cycling — not just for the Nation’s Tri but for my leg of the team tri in two months.
I hope I don’t drown by then.