Funnily enough, swimming learning curves come in waves. Just when you think that you’ve conquered one, another, bigger one comes to challenge you. As each wave comes, you consume cerebral knowledge and convert it into instinct. And just when you’re on the very brink of frustration, you break through to a new level of understanding. That’s what I think makes this sport so cool.
As for me, I have surpassed the larval stage of swimming and am now somewhat able to hold my own. I am not, of course, as fast as the intermediates, but I can now make it across the pool in 21 seconds, so that’s better than my pathetically limping newbie start. I know that I won’t be a superstar overnight, but I just hope for the day when I will be able to swim easily with the rest of the group.
Last week, I skipped Monday practice because of my 20-miler. I actually felt okay afterward, but I didn’t want to overtrain, so I took the day off. When I went to Wednesday practice, my coach was nowhere to be found. Instead, another coach, Gary, introduced himself and said that our regular coach, Mikey, had gone on vacation, and would be gone for the week. It was early in the morning, I didn’t know this man, and I felt this inexplicable fear consume me. He didn’t know me, didn’t know my ability, and he wouldn’t know to take care of poor, little beginner me. It didn’t help that none of the other newbs showed up that morning. I wanted to scream, cry and run away, like a tantrum-ing baby. Instead, of course, when he looked me in the eye and said, “400 warm-up” I nodded, put my goggles on, and took the plunge.
I had never swum 400 yards consistently in the pool before. It felt like I was just going on and on, forever and ever, but I made it. Afterward, however, my head was consumed by a terrible headache. I rubbed my sinuses.
“You okay?” Coach Gary asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I answered. “I just have a little headache.”
“Well, it’s easy to get overheated in these pools. Take it easy for a sec,” Gary advised.
I guess there was no fooling him into thinking that I wasn’t a newb. Still, I didn’t really feel overheated. I wasn’t really sure what was going on with me. He put us through some kick drills and corrected my back and breaststroke. I bore through the headaches, which came and went, til I was out of the pool.
When I got home, I spoke to my mother on the phone, who is an avid swimmer. I told her about my headache, as it was totally random and I wasn’t sure what caused it. At first, she thought the same thing, that maybe I was overheated, but then, when I told her how many breaths I usually took to get across the pool (two), she said, “Don’t get caught in that trap of trying to breathe as little as possible. Your body needs oxygen. That’s probably why you were getting headaches.”
So, erm, lesson(!): Breathe often. O2 is good for you. Who knew?
Also, I swam with Mikey this morning (she’s back–lovelovelove) and really felt a difference in my stroke and body position. So, hmm, maybe it is good to switch things up with a different coach every once in a while. Maybe I’ll even attend one of Gary’s classes one of these days.
Last lesson: Try new things. They are also good for you. The end (for today).