Friday, January 15, 2010

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming...

I had to start from the beginning, so the above picture is one of my "beginnings" of swimming. This was a long time ago when I was pretty young...eight years old and at the top of my age group in swimming. Yeah, that's me standing on the "top block" with that trophy that's almost as big as me. Swimming was a part of my life from the time I was five years old when I took some swim lessons at the local swim school. I loved swimming so much, I couldn't stay out of the water. I was either in the pool, near a pool, in the ocean doing some body surfing, or somehow doing something that was in some way related to water. I even wrote poetry about water, that's how much I loved it! My favorite movie when I was a kid was "The Incredible Mr. Limpet", the guy who wished he were a fish and then became one. My favorite game was being a mermaid...of course!
Never made it to the Olympics, but I had a great time trying and a whole lot of medals, ribbons, trophies and pictures to show for it. Life and circumstances took me in other directions that took me away from the ocean and access to pools in general for several years. Every opportunity I had to get into a pool or other body of water, I took with high enthusiasm. I swam in several of Alaska's lakes...NOT recommended for an extended period of time. I swam in lakes in central Washington...saved a life once because I just happened to be out on a lake in the middle of nowhere. I eventually moved to western Washington where there were more pool opportunities. However, my life was so full of other responsibilities that I didn't have an opportunity to swim or train as often as I wanted. Marriage, kids, hubby, job and other responsibilities took me away. I slowly fell out of shape, gained weight and hated the way I looked and felt.  

After several back injuries and problems with arthritis, plantar facitis and achilles tendonitis, I finally decided that I had to do SOMETHING. I had tried a gym in the past, but it didn't have a pool and it was quite spendy. I became unmotivated after hurting myself again and quit going. Last summer, I met a sweet woman about my age, who was quite fit, working out daily, teaching Zumba classes (What's that again?) and encouraged me to give a different gym a try. I tried several different places and finally settled on a gym with a pool and got a decent rate I could afford and started using some of the machines with a little instruction. She encouraged me to try Zumba, but I have not since I have too many problems with my feet. Low impact was a better option for me.

At first, I tried out some of the machines and discovered that I enjoyed the bicycling since I didn't have to walk and hurt my feet.Some of the machines were OK, but even with a little bit of a workout, I was sore for days afterward. I was horribly out of shape and was on the verge of giving up. I decided to try the pool at least before I called it quits though. That meant I was going to have to break down and buy a swim suit and goggles, so I did.

I took my fat, out of shape body and snugged it into my new suit, not daring to look in the mirror. If I had, I would've stopped and got dressed right then and there. Covering myself with my towel as much as possible, I walked out to the pool. There, I found a bunch of women who were much more overweight than me, doing some water aerobics on the side. 

You can do this, I said to myself as I disentangled the towel from my body and made a quick dash into the water. There was a lap lane open and I aimed for it. Starting off nice and easy, I started with a few breastrokes and turned on my back and kicked down to the end of the pool. Next lap, I did the whole thing in breastroke and paused at the wall. Third lap, I tried freestyle, and made it the end...just barely, huffing and puffing and trying to catch my breath. It took me half an hour to swim eight laps and I thought I was going to die! A little (very little) voice inside said, hey, this is only the first day! It'll be better tomorrow. TOMORROW? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It's gonna take days to get over today! I got out of the pool, discouraged.

The next day I returned and tried again. Ten laps that time!
Two days later, I went back again. Twelve laps!

I kept going back and increasing my laps by two each time until I reached twenty four laps. I stopped increasing my laps then and began to just stay at twenty four for awhile until I had a level of comfort at that distance. Then, I increased slowly from there, up to forty six laps. I stopped increasing and concentrated on maintaining until I reached a level of comfort there.

To mix things up a bit, I thought I would try water aerobics along with my lap swimming. I found that people could take it as easy or as hard as they wanted. There were some that were there just for the socializing and barely moved, to folk like me who wanted to really get something out of it. I became a tad bit frustrated by the barely moving folk that hindered my ability to make the class work for me, so quit going regularly. I still go on occasion just because I enjoy the exercise of it and I wouldn't do that otherwise.

Right around Thanksgiving, I became ill and stayed out of the pool for almost two weeks. When it came time for me to return, I was devastated that I couldn't do near the amount of laps as before and had dropped back to twenty four laps again. I slowly gained to thirty six laps. Then, the Christmas holidays came and I didn't go as often as I wanted. I stayed at thirty six laps, but couldn't get beyond that. I'd hit a wall!
The new year gave me some inspiration on how to fight back and I began to change my lap swim routine by "sneaking in" some breastroke laps as a resting phase between each set that I did. That little bit cranked my laps up to an amazing fifty six laps after only two weeks! Whoo hoo!

What has all this swimming done for me? I've dropped twenty pounds, have more energy, less pain and much more stamina. Yes, I still have plantar facitis and achilles tendonitis and my arthritis didn't go away. Over all, however, I feel better. My routine is almost totally swimming since that is my area of comfort. I know that I should mix it up...and I will, eventually. Until then, I will just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming... 



Tommye said...

Trish, I am so proud of you. Persistence is the key and you're obviously motivated. I found something that worked for me several years ago, but haven't worked out regularly in over a year. I'm ready to start again and you are my inspiration. Thanks.

Linda said...

I adore swimming. I always do 20 lengths after my gym workouts, to cool down. I swim whenever I can. Back in the 1950s and 60s I always swam in an open pool, unheated too. When I was 12 the school I was in began to collect money for their own pool; we were all given 2/6 (two shillings and 6 pence) and had to use it to make more money, and all money was for Operation Quickswim.
I made fudge and sold it for profit. I never got to swim in that pool. It took years and years to collect the money and I was 17 before it was built.

Trish's Soapy Blessings said...

So much for the Operation "Quick"swim, Linda. Wonderful concept though. Too bad you never got to use the pool though.

Swimming in Alaska's lakes are usually pretty quick swims before you turn a lovely shade of blue and start shivering uncontrollably.

My first swim coach, Greta Andersen (from Denmark, was in the Olympics a whole long time ago) used to swim the English Channel, the Molokai and a lot of other ocean swims. My brother used to help her train by swimming with her. They would get out of the ocean just freezing after training in the morning.