I didn’t practice the first week. Yes, I did the gorilla walk on land and I thought a lot about swimming. But, the body needs to practice to imprint the behavior. Watching my Total Immersion Videos and thinking about swimming was not going to do a lot for my swim stroke. I did have a wonderful run mid-week where I tried to keep a zen attitude and to learn forward and let gravity do the work for me. My easy run pace was much faster than normal on this run, and I felt really thrilled!
We stood on the pool deck and did some gorilla walk practice. Looking at ourselves in the window “mirror” we practiced our front quadrant walk. I admit that my time here was spent thinking “my hips look fat” and trying to remind myself that this didn’t much matter while practicing swimming. I was grateful when we stopped having to look at ourselves in the mirror and even more grateful when Shane fixed my arm while doing the walk. After practicing this a few times, he had us grab flippers and hop into the lap pool for some practice.
We donned our flippers and eased into this pool. At 80 degrees, it is really quite appropriate for swimming. I sat there watching people happily hop in, one after another. Finally, I dipped my body in as my teeth chattered. I was happy to see one or two other women easing themselves in and struggling to stay warm, but I couldn’t help thinking that if I could embrace being chilled I’d enjoy swimming a lot more!
We practiced the Superman glide position and moved into our Skate position. This felt pretty good for me, and Shane reminded us that his goal was to put himself out of a job as quickly as possible. I had to really push back against my mind when I found it saying “sure this feels fine, but wait until you really have to swim.” I enjoyed being in a large group, able to practice and mess up without someone really looking only at me.
We entered the 89 degree warm pool and I was blissfully happy and warm for about 10 minutes! Later, I decided that this pool should be 98 degrees for my total comfort. Shane had us really focus on our recovery arm. He talked a lot about the importance of the recovery arm. Read Shane’s blog to learn more about this important part of swimming. Later, as the class went on, we started working on relaxing our arm and shoulder and “painting” in both directions. I found this enjoyable, though I was much more tense than I should have been. As the evening went on and I got colder I began to covet the wetsuit that one of my classmates had on. As we added layers to what we were doing, I felt like it was more and more challenging to do what Shane asked. However, we practiced in groups of 3-5 and he was able to give us some feedback and body correction. One thing that always astounds me is when I feel like I’m doing what he asks, and my body is SO out of position! I’m both grateful for the correction, and bummed that I need so much of it.
If I said I felt optimistic about this after class #2, I’d be lying. This week I felt defeated. It feels like learning a foreign language that I am not terribly interested in learning. However, I’ve talked with SO many adults who are terrible swimmers, or people that never learned to swim as children who have grown to love swimming as adults. I also realize the need to have a cross training option for dealing with injury and adding variety to my training.
I’ve learned that I need to try hard to push back against my mind that is always looping “you can’t swim” and “you are the worst swimmer in this class.” It is challenging to turn off those negative thoughts. I need to remind myself that just 11 years ago, I was afraid to get onto a bike and 8 years ago when training for my first half marathon, I stomped home from many a run.
I’m glad to have the opportunity to take this class, and trying to look forward to class #3.