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... this is a good hurt, right?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

So once upon a time, probably about 20 years ago, I discovered the fabulous wonderfulness that is competitive swimming. I had been in swim lessons since I was iddo-bitty, but the discovery of structured swim workouts and being on a team made my fishlike tendencies all the more exciting. I really got into swimming in high school, and by my jr/sr year, I was on my school team and a club team. Yeah. I swam. A lot.

But then I went to college. And I just sort of ... fell out of the habit. I tried a few times in the 10 years since high school to get back into swimming, but when you're not swimming 4 hours a day any more, you kinda sorta lose some of your technique. Add to it the fact that I was no longer doing ANY exercise, and you're left feeling like a big ol pile of spaghetti noodles in the water. I hated it. I got frustrated and upset that swimming no longer felt ... the same. Instead of feeling like I was gliding through the water, I felt like I was slapping around like a drowning kid. And I gave up.

I'm drawn to water ... I can't walk by a pool without having to resist the urge to just jump in. It could be 50 degress out (ok, maybe more like 65, I live in SoCal after all), and that pool still looks inviting. Almost like it calls my name ...

Fast forward to about a week ago and a perfectly random thing occurred to me: if walking/running/weight lifting doesn't appeal, and if the trick is supposed to be finding what you love to do, why has it still been 10 years since I've been in a pool for anything more serious than a cool splash on a hot day?

I decided to give it another try, and I have decided to stick with it. Yeah, I am going to suck at first. My technique will probably be off, and instead of doing a 30-second 50, I'll probably do a 30-second 25. If that. So I dealt with the frustration of trying on bathing suits. Ick. I dug out my old swim stuff, and discovered (with great joy) that I still had my goggles (2 pairs, even!), a never-used swim cap (latex and chlorine just do not get along ... after 10 years, a used cap would have been reduced to a weird mush of sticky, crunchy plastic ... yeah, found one of those in my old swim bag, too), my fins, my pull-buoy, and even my old drag suits (wow, that was a wake-up call ... I used to think those were BIG ...). And I took myself over to that gym I never got around to canceling because, bonus!, they have an indoor pool.

And I got in. I was surprised how much I still remembered. My technique is still there, though inelegant; I can still do the alternate breathing thing every 3 to 5 strokes; I can remember free, back, and breast stroke (but don't ask me to do fly); and my flip turns are still smooth and (relatively) quick. I didn't even bother looking at the shot clock to find out what my intervals have been reduced to; today was just about getting back in the water and surviving 30 minutes.

I. loved. it. I hadn't realized just how MUCH I missed swimming and how GOOD it feels to be in the water. I missed this so much. (I didn't miss the smelling-like-chlorine part. Ick. 2 showers later and I still smell it on my hands.)

I didn't realize until I got in the car to go home that I have sorely (ha! literally ...) neglected many many muscles on my upper arms and shoulders and forearms and back. Ouch. I hurt. How on earth did I do this for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year?!? I could barely move my arms to steer the car home.

Somebody pass the aspirin, please.

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