I haven’t talked much about swimming here. That’s mostly because I swim at the Matt Dishman Community Center in a heated pool.
Don’t get me wrong, Dishman is lovely, the showers are hot, the lockers don’t smell funny, and they usually have plenty of lap swim times.
That being said, there usually isn’t a lot to say. You don’t get gorgeous nature views from the pool. I’m not posting locker room photos on Instagram. (THOUGH! I have locker room thoughts for another post…)
There are few amusing antidotes, though I suppose there was the time I showed up at the locker room at 6AM half asleep. I put all my clothes in the locker, locked it, and went for my swim. I returned, unlocked the lock, opened the locker, and ALL MY THINGS WERE GONE! Holy shit, I thought! Someone stole all my stuff! ALL my stuff! … Then I realized that didn’t make any sense. The lock was still locked. So I opened the locker next to that one, and sure enough, there were all my clothes in the unlocked locker. ?After that I added espresso beans to my morning routine before swimming.
But aside from that, I started lap swimming in January and have been building mileage since then.
I’m not actually a swimmer. I mean, I am capable of swimming. I was thankfully given swim lessons as a child. I actually really like the water, and I was on a community swim team in middle school. But if you look at the pictures from the swim team meets, I’m a literal half pool length behind the second slowest swimmer (who is also WAY off the leader). I was disqualified for incorrectly swimming breast stroke at least once. So despite my Mom’s pride in my swimming, I was never going to the Olympics (or even the state meet) on my forward crawl skills.
Plus, I haven’t done lap swimming consistently as an adult ever. So, I started swimming just a 1/2 a mile. Then 3/4 of a mile. Then a mile, and onward and upward.
Hitting two miles was HUGE. I felt insanely accomplished. I had never continuously swam that far.
But the Picnic swim is about two miles in open water. Swimming two miles in a heated indoor pool (even without using flip turns or other aids to speed me along) wasn’t exactly equivalent.
So. I decided to push my limits a bit more and aim for three miles. Three miles is 216 pool lengths in the 25 yard pool (108 out and back laps). My watch has a crack, so I can’t wear it swimming. So if I want to definitely know how far I’ve gone, I’ve got to count EVERY lap.
You’d think that wouldn’t be that hard. Just count the laps one by one, right?
Let me explain:
So, here you are, lap 1. Great. Lap 2, fine. Lap 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, still good. Lap 8, cruising now!
But then, someone joins your lane. You move over for them. You watch their stroke. Are you about to kick them? Did they just kick you? Is that a snorkel they’re using?!
Oh crap. Shoot. Was I on lap 9 (length 18)? Or lap 10? I was repeating the number, until, suddenly, I wasn’t. Oh no.
Okay, think logically, it takes you about a minute to swim one lap. Has it been two minutes? You started at 8:04, now it’s 8:15, so that’s 11 minutes. But the first two laps were a slower breaststroke… Shit. I don’t know.
Great. I have no idea. And now I have to decide if I swim an extra lap to make up for that possible missed lap. Do I care? And while I was thinking through all this, did I just lose track AGAIN?
This is what it’s like counting laps. For at least an hour of your life.
So, going into the three mile swim, I decided to try a new technique. I broke things up a bit — 2 laps of breaststroke, 4 laps crawl, 4 laps with a pull buoy, 8 laps of crawl (.5 mile down, 2.5 to go). This helped a LOT.
But still, the 8 laps got hard to keep track of after about an hour. I was tired, and I it was hard to keep focused. So, instead of counting, I decided to use the alphabet.
Lap 1 was A. Up and back I just thought of literally any word with A. Alphabet, animal, artichoke, alien, Alphie, alpine, asterisk. Lap 2 was B. And so on, and so forth.
This helped, because it was way easier to remember if I’d just spent a minute repeating a bunch of D words or a bunch of E words. And it was distracting.
It worked surprisingly well, though I’m not sure it was any less mentally challenging. All that to say. I was able to keep a steady pace, only pausing at the end of mile one and mile two, both for exactly two minutes. The only hiccup was past way through the fourth to last lap I felt sort of… funny. I paused my crawl mid pool and actually held the lap lane for a moment. The feeling passed, and I finished out the last 200yards with breast stroke, just to be safe.
Will I swim three miles again before the big day? No idea. Probably at least once more. It will be less exciting since I’ve hit that goal, but I’m still pleased to think it’s possible for me!