For the past few weeks I have resumed my participation in a local Masters' swim class. The class meets twice a week from 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM and to say it takes a great deal of will power to get there on time is putting it mildly. Since I made the decision to try out the FIRST training program which incorporates a good bit of cross training each week, the need to take part in a non-running activity like this is important. I love to swim but as I have said on at least one occasion recently, it is tough getting back in shape. This morning's workout heightened my awareness of this fact and gave me a chance to consider what it is takes to be a well-conditioned swimmer,
I now just suck it up and dive in the still, uninviting waters of the new local YMCA pool. No more 90 degree water in this pool; the temperature is kept at a constant 82. Sounds warm if you are talking air temperature, but not water. The shock of the cold lasts all of 5 seconds and then all is evened out. The warm up period is no problem; just getting the heart pumping and muscles loosened. "Oh, heart, you are in for it today." The kick board exercises are always tough for me. I bob down the lane like a listing, slowly sinking boat. I look to my left and right and curse my fellow class members as they swiftly pass me. Well, I guess "curse" is a strong term. i do like my class mates. The wake from one young man almost capsizes me as I grope for the wall. OK, just two laps to go. The instructor agrees to let me put on fins to finish the kicking exercise. I still am baffled why I can't seem to get in the groove.
Swimming is a blast. I love it; but today was TOUGH. I have always considered myself a good athlete but as I struggled to finish the exercises I was fully aware I was not the only one out there completing those laps. And I am definitely not the fastest. So, what is they have that I don't? In order for one body to move through the water at a greater speed than another, it takes technique and strength; neither of which I have now, both of which I hope to have someday.
That pool has become in my eyes a great equalizer. A place that sorts out the unfit and leaves only those who determine to REALLY get in shape. There are many moments like today when I HATED it and vowed never to return again. But, as I sit here now, I long for it again. I know the next time will be a little better and the time after that even better. There is no substitute for swimming those laps; no way to build stamina in the dry. A few days reprieve are at hand, but time to hit it again will be here soon.