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Day 22 of 112-Xtrain-Swimming/#makingthemostofmechanics

(Posted the blog entry on Friday, 3/24-two days post day 22)

Headed to the pool this a.m. and was definitely looking forward to it.  After a tough 17 miles on Sunday, and a much better track workout yesterday a.m. versus our previous track workouts, I was looking forward to heading into the pool and kind of floating…just cruising along in the water at a comfortable speed with no wear and tear or strain and pain on my feet, ankles, quads, hamstrings, butt, or back.  An “ahhhhhh” kind of workout, if you will.

I had some extra time to get to the pool today because Christy wouldn’t be in the water until 6 a.m.  So I took my time as I meandered over on the three-block walk to the YMCA.

Super cool graffiti under a bridge just up from the YMCA. I suspect the lights aren't there to highlight the graffiti. The bridge is actually a functioning train bridge and I wonder if the lights have something to do with that, but I love that the lights seem to function more as museum lighting to showcase the beautiful art.

My Y

It was a lovely morning outside and for the first time heading to the Y, I wasn’t wearing tops and sweatshirts and coats and boots and hats and gloves, etc.  I just wore my suit and a sweatshirt and pants and flip flops.  It is so nice for runners and athletes of all kinds as the seasons change from winter to spring and we get to start to peel off our clothes.  First of all, it’s less weight to drag around, but it also takes much less time to get undressed and get to the task at hand-working out!  I caught a glance of myself in locker room mirror at the Y and I felt like I actually “looked” like a “swimmer.”  I think it was the hoodie, stripped pants, and the flip flops.  I don’t know.  This just seems to be what I think swimmers look like.  So, I took a picture.

Me as "swimmer."

So looking back on the swim, I realized I experienced three phases of speed/three realizations about speed during the course of the work out.

The first 20 minutes or so I swam without Christy because she was upstairs walking with her mom.  When Christy isn’t around, I tend to swim more because there is no one for me to be chitty chatty with.  My goal was to swim at least 600 yards before she got in the water, and it wasn’t that I was going to swim fast to get that done, I was hoping to just swim consistently.

Phase 1
I hopped in the water, pulled on my swim cap and flippers, grabbed the paddle board and started off.  Gee, I felt tired.  And I tried to compare how this week’s “tired” compared to last week’s “tired.” I think this week’s tired was more muscle fatigue tired.  Last week’s was I was just tired.  But I thought about how last week’s tired swim was the beginning of some tough training and fatigue so I decided to just keep going-to not exert myself too much and just be mindful of how my legs felt.

When I hopped in the water, the clock/timer said “37:something.”   I had since swam 50 yards and was on my way to yard 75.  I noticed the clock again.  It probably said about “39:something” and all I could think about was how Christy’s son, Alex (a 17-year-old junior at Ann Arbor Skyline High School), who qualified as a swimmer to participate in the State Championships, swam his 100-yard event qualifying time in one minute and three seconds!!!!  I’m sorry, did you say 1:03? Why yes, yes, I did.  So, he swims 100 yards in 63 seconds and you are not quite to yard 75 and it’s been almost 120 seconds??  And you’re wearing flippers?? Which leads me to Phase 2.

Phase 2
After I dropped the paddle board and was actually using my arms and swimming free style and feeling just lovely gliding along the water I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to swim fast, when it is so lovely to be gliding along?”  Thoughts and visions of world-record holder and Olympic champion Michael Phelps thrashing around in the water fill my head and it just seems, well, all too unseemly.  Why swim fast when there is something almost heavenly about coasting gently across the water? Which leads me to Phase 3.

Phase 3
AT 6:00 ON THE DOT Christy makes it down into the pool and we start out with our 100 yards of kicking with the flippers and the paddle board (By the way, I’m feeling much better at this point. Not nearly as tired.  It took me about 300 yards to get into my swim groove) and we are all chitty chatty and catching up (There’s soooo much to catch up on at this point because it’s been like 24 hours since I’ve seen her and we’ve probably only emailed each other once or twice).  Once we’re done with that we then swim 100 yards of free style with the flippers and then 100 years of breast stroke without the flippers and we do this a total of 4 times for a 1,200 yard workout.

At one point during one of the freestyle swims, something clicked in me.  My body and head started moving in concert with each other like a rudder-left/right/left/right….and I started to pick up speed and…I LOVED IT!  Who wants to swim fast?  I do!  Well, let me qualify that by saying it’s not so much that I want to swim faster, I’m just always looking to improve myself (Wow!  That’s an understatement!) and my athletic performance.  And what I really liked is that my swimming got faster, but I didn’t get more tired because I was using my body efficiently to move faster.  I wasn’t moving my arms and legs crazy fast, which usually tires me out, it was the movement of my body in concert with my head, which also made it easier to breathe.  And while there certainly wasn’t a lot of thrashing around, as it’s not a stroke for me that results in thrashing, there was definitely a smoother/faster coasting on the top of the water and it felt great!

So Wednesday’s swim day for me was quite the success.  Not only did I get in an extra 900 yards of swimming, but I also got some insight in my body mechanics and I have to say that as a swimmer, I do so much more enjoy doing more with less than doing more with more.

Carry on, friends.  Carry one.

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