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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Confessions of a Former Lifeguard

As a child/teenager, I swam all the time. I was on the swim team and swam endless laps for hours and hours, practicing my meet strokes- fly and back - but also doing my share of freestyle. I worked many summers at Rockport Pool lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons, and guarded lap swimming at Rock County Pool in the winter and did my fair share of laps at both of those jobs just for fun.
So, I had it in my head that now, after almost a 20 year hiatus from swimming laps, I was going to get back into the pool and be able to kick out 400 yards of freestyle like it was nothing.
Um, yeah. ... about that.....
A- I am pushing 40. I no longer have a 16 year olds swimming ability.
B- I haven't swam laps in 20 years and I can tell
C- just because I can run 10 miles and bike for hours, that does not mean I have the breath control to tolerate tons of swimming without losing my breath.

When we started swimming laps for SWAT practice a couple weeks ago, I realized I probably had some issues with swim endurance. I decided as long as I was starting over with lap swimming and Mike was learning to swim the right way using the Total Immersion model, that I would learn to swim using the TI method too. Then a) I can help Mike with drills and b) I might pick up some skills to help me with distance swimming if we ever get to Ironman or half-iron distances where I will need the technique to conserve energy on the swim.
The TI learning curve has not been as quick as I had hoped. We have 2 pool options. We can go to the YMCA and swim in the indoor pool where it is relatively quiet but has a short pool so doing a lot of turns. OR we can go to Rockport Pool which is an outdoor Olympic size pool, but there is limited lap swim times and they integrate the lap swim with open swim most days. This week we mostly have gone to Rockport because the pool is quite long so seems to more closely simulate open water swims because there are less turns (I know, not exactly the same thing, but it is in my tiny head). Today, I went to lap swim by myself and was set to do a few more TI drills. After a couple of unsuccessful laps, I focused on other swim strokes. It was 90+ degrees F today and I think every dirtbag in town was at the pool for the simultaneous open swim. Little kids were crossing through the lanes. Gangster wannabes were cannonballing off the side. Kids splashing around was creating a lot of turbulence. It messed me up. I was trying to practice underswitch and zipper drills and I was drifting all over the place and couldn't get in a comfortable place in my head.
So I decided on a plan B for next weekend's Janesville Sprint Tri. If I am not feeling comfortable with a 400 free in open water, I will do the breaststroke - that is an easier stroke for my to control my breathing, I can sight myself forward easily, and I feel very comfortable with it. So..... today I scrapped the TI drills and swam a mile of breast stroke. my 400 split was 11 minutes which I am OK with. The whole mile too 44 minutes. I just have to survive the swim. I can make up time on the bike and I can't do much more with my run. If I can do that I should be pretty comfortably in the middle of the pack.
The Duck Toilet Triathlon is a go and I have a swim plan. Excellent. (and shame on me for not practicing sooner).
Any other thoughts out there on my game plan? Flaws in the thought process? Let me know people, that's why I confess all my sins to you...... :-)


Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Jenny, I know I am not an athlete but I can tell you what I notice as an observer/supporter.Being a better swimmer will make you a better biker and runner. The swimming helps with your flexibilty and your core strength. As Bigun's swimming has improved so has his biking and running. Sure there are a lot of factors involved, loss of weight, the constant training of all 3 disciplines, but the confidence in the swim lends itself to the other two disciplines as well. I do think that athletes who have been active in a particular sport seem to gain back their ability faster than others who have to "learn" it.You'll probably find you will move forward more quickly than Mike because your body/brain does remember the old stuff, it's just got to get "reset" for it.
It also sounds to me that Rockport is more like an open water swim! All of the bodies crossing over your path and the drifting...maybe you should keep going there? Good training for the real thing!! ;)

Athena said...

The folks on the tri boards at runnersworld and cool running told me that beginners (and even non-begginers) often find swimming using the breastroke much easier, if slower. The nice thing about the breaststroke is you can look ahead, and it saves you from straying off course.

BTW, I had to fish a drowned cottontail rabbit out of the filter basket in our pool yesterday. Not the most pleasant chore I've done lately.

GeekGirl said...

I think I already told your hubby this, but when I first started thinking about a triathlon I loved the water. Then I started learning to swim and I hated the water. I could barely make it the length of the pool. Now I finally like the water again. It gets easier, I promise!

Red said...

Hi, you just got to love the person who comes up with the names of these events c'mon the "Duck Toilet Triathlon"? hehe now that just motivates me lol.

Have fun.

J-Wim said...

It really is the Janesville YMCA Triathlon, but the swim takes place in the duck Lions Beach, which is overrun with geese and ducks and there are droopings everywhere including flaoting in the water. A truly gross swimming experience.

Bigun said...

my only caution would be that a breast stroke kick can knock a person out! If you can, when going around buoys or in the start - when you are around other swimmers - you might want to throw some free in there just to keep up with relations....

Myles said...

If your breathing isn't good then keeping your face out of the Duck toilet is advised.

My humble opinion, maybe you guys are adding to much of the drill stuff too soon...The drills give you so much to think about that it can be hard to just put one arm in front of the other and stroke down the lane...just a thought.

The smaller pool with fewer people might be the ticket for learning to get comfortable in the water again. I get frustrated with people flying all over the place and if I want OWS practice I go to open water. Don't worry about having to turn often it's not a race and no pool swim adequatly mimics an OWS.

Keep up the training!

Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Myles just blasted me!! LOL

Duane said...

Good luck on your tri, I look forward to your race report! And have fun!

Wendy said...

My experience with swimming was that first time back in the water 400 metres was good. It comes back quickly. But there's nothin' wrong with breaststroke! (There's a gal at our pool training for IMLP. She said she breaststroked through her first two years of tri.)

Margie said...

Hello and thanks for the comment. You guys have done a terrific job. keep up the good work. Pat talks highly of you both. My iphone is great!

Pat said...

Good luck on the sprint tri. Can't wait to hear your report.

Thanks for visiting my sisters blog.


Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Good luck this weekend!!!!!
Yahoo Ms Super TriAthlete!!

Athena said...

1. Somebody already has an iPhone?!?!

2. J-wim, God love you, you added me to your list of favorite ebay sellers. That was so sweet! I'm waiting for somebody to buy my gangland gut-slashing knife from Mexico (for gutting fish, of course!), but I have a feeling I'm stuck with this beauty. I have been thinking of opening a "store," but don't see how to do that profitably unless I am able to move lots of merchandise. What do you think?

J-Wim said...

Inquiring minds want to know - I just like to watch what the folks I know have for sale, just in case I get a friends and family discount or something if they are selling something good.
I don't know how the store thing works, I just sell my stuff when the mood hits me or the "need to list on eBay to raise money for sweet workout gear" pile gets so tall it threatens to topple over and take out all the furniture in its path....
Have I mentioned I really heart Ebay?? It's like the biggest garage sale on Earth!

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