Thursday, February 2, 2012

Michael Phelps, I Am Not

So, in order to knock myself down a couple of pegs after accomplishing my goal of 5 pull-ups, I decided to go swimming Tuesday night after work.

I have made it known that I would one day like to compete in a triathlon.  I would like that day to be this year, but as I have also stated previously, I am not the world's best swimmer.  I have gone to the pool after work a few times and swam a few laps.  Sometimes I seem to have a good run and will complete several lengths in a row, but no more than 150 to 200 meters at a time.  It had been a little while since I had taken a trip to the pool, so I was not expecting my best performance.  However, Tuesday night went really poorly.  I could not complete more than a 100 meters before I felt as though I was gasping for air.  My left foot started to cramp up and overall I felt so uncoordinated.

I try very hard to focus on my form when I am in the pool.  Sadly, I don't really know what that form should feel like.  I see other swimmers doing something in the pool and I think to myself, "Oh!  I should try that next time."  Then I do try it and I fail completely or it just doesn't seem to work for me.  Example: I feel as though I bring my head too far out of the water when I take a breath.  So, I see someone taking a quick breath and snapping their head right back into position.  Then I try it and I find that I am taking in water on my breath or not getting enough air and I feel like I am suffocating before I can turn to take my next breath. Another Example: Sometimes my arms come down to the water all at the same time.  By that I mean my hand, forearm, elbow, and bicep all seem to strike the water simultaneously on the down stroke.  I get out of the water and see a person sort of slicing their hand into the water, followed quickly by the remainder of their arm.  So, I give it try and seems to be working well, but then I realize that I have focused so much on my arm that I have forgotten to breathe.  This is a bad idea.  I have definitely learned that breathing is the most important part of swimming, or any sport and life in general.  Note to self, "Breathing is important!"

And don't even get me started on what to do with my legs.  I have not a clue what to  do with them in the water.  Sometimes they just sort of flip at the ankle, other times they are making long, drawn out kicks through the water.  I don't know when I should be kicking which leg in conjunction with the motion of my arms.  I would love to see what other swimmers are doing, but their legs are generally submerged the whole time, and I don't think staring under the water at other swimmers is appreciated or even permitted.

When I finally called it a day and started to pack it in, I took the time to watch other swimmers in action.  Some people are so impressive with their swimming.  I was half tempted to ask a couple of them if they would consider giving me lessons, but again I am not sure how that may be perceived.

I am kind of stuck on this one.  I sure could use a lesson, but I feel a little silly being the middle-aged guy (ouch, that kinda hurt) asking for swim lessons.  But if I don't see some improvement, I am going to have trouble finishing a triathlon with a swim of any length.  It is truly a tough spot.  Does anyone have any suggestions?


  1. I'd say just suck it up and take a lesson. Or even just talk to someone who gives lessons and see what they can offer you -- you may get some free advice or tips. Also, the Summer Olympics are coming up and you'll get to see all sorts of underwater shots of the best in the world. Also, also, check out YouTube and see if there are any instructional videos or clips of Olympic swimmers to watch their technique.

  2. I never thought about watching the underwater shots at the Olympics; that is a really good idea! I was asking one of the student triathletes that comes into the storeroom and she informed me that there are adult swim lessons provided at the University. I am checking into it as we speak!

  3. Agree with Jeff on the youtube videos. Also, also, also - did you know you can wear your heartrate monitor in the pool? Just don't press any buttons under water. You can see if you're out of breath because you're working too hard, in which case you need to slow down. Swimming is so hard to get perfect technique wise, so start with one aspect of it at a time. Use a kickboard to focus on legs, use a pull buoy when you want to focus on arm work. Be patient and don't go for distance, go for time and for technique.