Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.

Warrior Training, Phase 1: A Swimming Story


I again reiterate that Southern California is not always sunny and warm, and last night was an example of JUST how frigid it could get. The Northerly winds swooshed by at speeds around 20 mph, making the 45 degree temps seem much, much lower.

“Dear God,” I thought. “How in the heck am I going to remove my clothes and get into the water in this weather?”

Luckily, my amazing Masters coach, and friend gave me an old swim parka that morning to use to thwart the winter brutality. Its hard shell and warm fleece lining kept out the majority of the cutting wind chill.

When I showed up at the pool, it was only a small group of us, huddled against the wind, most people in sweats, hopping up and down to keep warm. I wondered if the rest of the group had wussed out, sitting at home sipping hot cocoa while writing out their laundry list of excuses. My assumptions were proven wrong in moments, when more teammates began to trickle in to the facility. Pretty soon, we had (almost) a regular turnout of folks. I was impressed.

I mentally tried to prepare for the chill of the wind on my body. I removed the parka first. The air felt like an ice bath, insanely freezing at first, but then my body acclimated to the temp, and it wasn’t so bad. I quickly stripped off my sweats and sandals, and scurried toward the water.

While the Culver City Plunge is “heated,” it is known to be the coldest heated pool in the L.A. area. Really, it’s more like lukewarm. Still, it was better than the outside air temps last night. I plunged in and did a 200m warm-up, then Coach Jason had us get started on the drills (my fave :P).

The drill set looked like this:

2×100 50 Shark fin drill, 50 swim (shark fin is a high-elbow drill, and we all hate it)
2x 100 50 one arm drill, 50 swim
2x 100 50 catch up drill, 50 swim (catch up is just a delayed stroke drill–where you spend a moment suspended in “superman” position before pulling)
200 50 shark fin, 50 one arm, 50 catch up, 50 swim

And then the main set looked like this:
4×100 build (each 100 faster than the last, 20 second rest in between)
2×200 50 easy, 100 all out, 50 easy (20 second rest in-between)
400 build

100 warm down

Total meters with warm-up/down = 2300 (that’s almost 1.5 miles of swimming–yayy)

I always take an insanely long time to warm up. In fact, I didn’t start to really get into a “groove” until midway through the main set. The first couple of sprints were tough. I think I’m starting to figure out that I’ll probably be a back of the pack racer and position myself to pass people on the home stretch. Where a lot of people start to tire, I’m just getting started. I think that’ll be a great asset, especially in an Ironman. Overall, it was a great swim, and I felt like I finished strong.

Getting out was the hardest part of the workout, as our bodies had adjusted to the water temp, and the air felt even more icy cold. I shivered as I struggled to grab my towel, throw on the parka, and my sandals, and head toward the locker room. Eeeks!

Becoming an Ironwoman is a whole new level of hardcore. In order to do well, we must complete the designated workouts, regardless of weather. We run in the rain, swim in the cold, and bike in the dark if we have to. It’s about being a warrior, no excuses. Wimping out is not an option.

I think last night proved that I could rise to the challenge. I’m ready for the next one. Bring it!

Lessons Learned:

1) It’s not cold once you start swimming.

2) Get a parka. Seriously, you’ll thank me.

3) Working out in less than ideal conditions can help to prepare you for anything and helps toughen your resolve. Train your brain as well as your body!


Note: Hey all! I’m trying to raise $1000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society before January 15th! Please help support blood cancer research and treatment by heading over to my donation page ( and giving what you can (even $5 or $10 helps–and it’s much more fulfilling than a fancy latte or a pizza), or by sharing my blog or fundraising page with others. Thanks and Happy Holidays!



Author: Solange Deschatres

Innovative multi-marketing strategist and writer with a futuristic eyeball (and one normal one for writing, reading, design and such). Strong background in mobile, interactive and social marketing. Runner, writer, and art, music, tech and equine enthusiast. Owner of the most amazing Beagle you'll ever meet.

3 thoughts on “Warrior Training, Phase 1: A Swimming Story

  1. Congrats to you IRON WOMAN! For the record, in all my years of swimming and coaching, I have found that regardless of age, cognition, physical ability, the hardest part is always getting in the pool. The second hardest part-getting out of the pool! Keep up the great work!

  2. Wow. Outdoor swimming in December. Around here in balmy Indiana (mid-40s), all of the outdoor pools are closed and have been for months. And they won’t reopen until May.Good luck with the swim–the triathlon leg the keeps from entering a race. But I suppose if a person learn to ride a bike at age 31, a person can learn to swim properly at age 54.

    • Are you kidding me? You can absolutely learn to swim properly at age 54! Find yourself a good coach and you’ll be finding your “fins” in no time. Bonus with swimming: It’s a great no-impact workout when you have other injuries, and it also strengthens every part of your body. There’s no hiding your weaknesses in the water! P.S. I still stink at riding a bike, but every day I get a little bit better.:)

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