[I came, I swam, I conquered – for the non-Latin speakers i.e. everyone]
I could never not swim, I went to lessons when I was young and got all the badges but I was never very good and I hated putting my face in the water. (I still do, I can shower and wash my hair and not a drop will touch my face) so when there was no longer any drive to improve my swimming other than to be able to splash about on a Saturday afternoon at Fareham leisure centre with my friends then I just didn’t bother.
When I got older the only reason to swim was either when I was on holiday (and then just floating up and down was required) and the 2 times I have been pregnant where I forced myself to go because everyone told me what good exercise it was etc and when you are pregnant you’ll do anything to make sure your baby is ok although quite how or why swimming was going to do this I am still not sure.
So I avoided it. Then my sisters started swimming together on Sunday mornings and going for lovely breakfasts without me, then they went on a swim trek holiday together and secretly I felt a bit jealous but not enough to actually go swimming and then we decided to do this Triathlon. So here I am effectively a non-swimmer, about to sign up to swim 2.5k in open water. Apparently you can do breaststroke…..! But if I am going to do it I want to freestyle, which is what the serious people do.
This is where adult swim lessons have come in. We, all three, have signed up, the sisters to “improve their techniques” (bastards) and me to learn to put my face in the water and to do something other than breaststroke.
It was fairly terrifying to start, there are 8 of us of varying abilities (a couple of non-swimmers like me, some middle people and a couple of super fast people) and one teacher, we generally get a lane each (which is absolute bliss, I hate lane etiquette, it makes me so anxious) and it is in a pool that belongs to a local private school so quiet and lovely and clean.
The teacher had me swim freestyle for a length while she watched me (I didn’t make it a whole length) and then we did some beginner drills to practice kicking, arms and breathing with various floats. I discovered I can breathe much better on one side than the other (is this true of everyone??) and that I have been panic swimming up to now i.e. swimming as fast as I can while holding my breath until I can’t hold it any longer then swallowing loads of water. Once I had a pull buoy between my legs and could just focus on my arms I realised that it was ok to swim slowly and breathe whenever I wanted to. Obvious right? Apparently not for me. By the end of the session I could swim a length of freestyle and not collapse at the end of it.
By the end of session 2 I could swim 2 lengths, my technique is still terrible but I feel like I have made a massive breakthrough. I am actually looking forward to swimming! We worked out that by the time of the Swimathon in April, if my improvement continues exponentially (!), I might actually be able to make it the 50 lengths I have signed up to do….Its a start.