Saturday, July 05, 2014
After mulling over the idea for a few months now, I've committed to incorporating triathlons into my race schedule for several reasons.
1. I think they'll be less damaging on my body.
2. Swimming will allow me to develop upper body strength.
3. Completing an IronMan before the age of 35 is a goal of mine.
The problem with this plan, however, is that I can't swim more than one length of a 25m pool without stopping.
I took swimming lessons this week (I took some back in 2012 as well, but stopped practicing shortly thereafter) and I realized that I had been trying to "sprint" when I needed to "jog." This revelation helped a great deal in removing some of the frenzy from my movements and panic from my mind. Unfortunately, my mind keeps going on and on about what an unpleasant experience swimming is for my body. (My mind also likes to throw in comments about the absolute impossibility of ever swimming 2.5 miles straight.) Though the yogi in me knows it's not a matter of IF I'll ever be able to swim without stopping but a matter of WHEN, I can't help but get frustrated with my efforts. I decided I needed to find a "spirit athlete" for swimming to help me combat my mind's desire to just give up.
I never thought of it as having a spirit athlete before, but I called Caster Semenya to mind during many of my runs when I first started and still call on various WNBA players (Seimone Augustus, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Britney Griner) during circuit training workouts. (I never found a spirit athlete for spinning, which is probably part of the reason it often still feels like torture...)
At first I thought that Lia Neal would be my swimming spirit athlete. She made waves (ha!) during the 2012 Olympics because of her race and her age. Who better than a black female swimmer, I thought? And then I learned that she attends Stanford. As difficult as my 4 years there were, I'm still a Cardinal, so I was convinced Lia was a perfect match.
While looking for videos of Lia on YouTube, I saw a clip titled "World's Worst Olympic Swimming Trial in History." Being the time waster that I am, I clicked on it. It occurred during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. All 3 swimmers in the heat were from "developing countries" (Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Tajikistan) admitted through an initiative designed to encourage their participation in the games. Two of the athletes started before the gun and were disqualified. The third athlete was Eric Moussambani.
He learned how to swim 8 months before the trial. He did it in a lake. He swam the 100m race alone and finished it in 1:52:57. That seems pretty good to me given that 25m takes me 30-40 seconds, and I have to rest for 1 minute after each length. However, this was the Olympics and the world record at the time was 48:18.
In an interview after the race, Moussambani said the last 15 meters were very difficult. It's clear that was the case, but he kept moving. He didn't stop. Eric Moussambani is my swimming spirit athlete.
I won't even get into the commentary on this clip because I'll go on forever, but you can watch it here.