I started swimming long course on Monday nights last week. It was time for me to expand my endurance capabilities and to get more of a feel for what it was going to be like once I hit the open water. Last week, I was amazed at how different it felt, how the water felt more dense, and I felt overwhelmed and small looking down at the bottom of the deepest part of the pool. It took a while to get my breath adjusted to going further without that little split second of stealing extra breath at the end of a lap (I don’t do flip turns yet). By the end of the first session, I was exhausted, but I felt accomplished.
Last night, I amazingly took to the distance like it was no big deal. I no longer felt overwhelmed looking way down at the bottom of the pool. My body seemed to take it all in stride (or stroke?).
We focused mainly on “staying long.” Mikey said that we still weren’t fully using our length and strength. We did some drills holding the kickboard, a few building pull drills, but mostly worked on lengthening and taking as few strokes as possible to get across the pool. Of course, no drillset is complete without a few sprints, so Mikey made us do a 50m.
I hate sprints. I hate struggling through the water, out of breath, and feeling like I’m fighting myself. My first 50m time was just over 58 seconds. We followed that up with 100m easy, and then we sprinted again. My time was 1:01. Bummer. After that, we did a 100m kick, then she told me to rest for a second.
“I want you to break 58 seconds,” she told me.
Great. I had this feeling like I was going to let her down.
After about 30 seconds, she asked, “Are you ready?”
“Sure,” I said.
“That’s not the answer I want to hear,” Mikey said.
“Yayy, I’m ready,” I replied, weakly.
I pushed off and began the struggle, remembering to follow through and force my arms backward, feeling the pressure and the weight of the water. I reached forward, feeling my back muscles and lats stretch out with every stroke. I tore air from above the surface of the water for a split moment before I plunged myself back into the oxygen-less abyss. Still, I felt slow, sluggish. There is no way that I beat 58 seconds, I thought to myself.
“Fifty-four seconds!” Mikey beamed at me.
Given that your 50m time is about 8 seconds slower than your 50 yd time, that means I even beat my 50 yd time! Yeah, sure, the elite swimmers are usually sub-40 on these 50m times, but, still, for a relatively new swimmer, not bad!
1) It really pays off when you focus more attention on your stroke and less on the speed of your arms.
2) Keep doing things that intimidate you in your training. They will pay off!