For years, I’ve wanted to get back into swimming. When I was managing the gym and teaching aerobics classes in the 1980s, I also instructed water aerobics classes and was a swimming teacher. I swam laps for an hour every day after aerobics classes. Back then, I loved swimming. I’m not sure what happened to make me give it up. But give it up, I did, and I have regretted it ever since.
Swimming has constantly been on my mind, over the years, as I’ve drawn up training programs for myself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to fit in a swim recovery at the end of a long week of exercise? Wouldn’t it be great to get back to swimming as well as I did in my previous life? But all I did was think about it. I didn’t do anything about it. How could I? I didn’t have the body that I had back then in my 30s. How could I show myself in public, wearing bathers? Surely all the other swimmers would stop dead and stare, when I walked out onto the pool deck in my bathers!
If anyone else had spoken to me about having these thoughts, I would have had a conversation with them about doing what you love, and living with no regrets. I would have told them not to worry about what others think, as most probably other people would take no notice at all.
After talking to a friend who swims, I was encouraged to give it a go. Off I went to the pool the next day, knowing I had to bite the bullet and do it immediately, before I talked myself out of it. I was really unsure and hestitant, so it would have been easy to find a reason to talk myself out of it.
After changing into my bathers, I felt like the girl in the song about the ‘yellow polka dot bikini’. I was terrified to leave the change rooms and show myself on the pool deck wearing my bathers. Bathers which I had purchased the previous day, and wasn’t really sure about yet.
I took a deep breath and stepped out – nobody was watching. I walked to the edge of the pool and still nobody was watching. I lowered myself into the beautiful warm water and noticed that everyone didn’t stop what they were doing, to stare at me, as I expected. In actual fact nobody seemed to care at all that I was there. Everyone was going about their business, swimming or walking or running in the water. Even those who were just relaxing on the edge of the water took absolutely no notice of me.
I’ve now been to the pool four times in the past ten days, and I’m loving discovering swimming again. I’m slower than I used to be and my technique is dreadful but I don’t care. Improvement gives me a goal to work towards.
My goal now is to swim three times each week, and by the end of the year be able to swim laps for an hour non stop. I’m also working on my stroke technique, as improvement there will make it possible to swim for long periods, without rest breaks.
I’m following a swim training program created by Speedo Australia. Initially, I have been doing their getting started program just to get familiar with being in the water, and moving through the water again.
This is what Speedo says about their 50 metre training starter program:
“As well as helping to improve stamina and muscle tone, swimming is also a great cardiovascular activity and the best choice for an all-over body workout, and vastly improved fitness, whilst virtually eliminating impact on joints and muscles. This program will help your swimming technique and physical conditioning”.
But today I began the Week 1 Swim Program. By the end of this 3 week training program, I should be able to swim non stop for 600 metres. That doesn’t sound like a huge distance, but it’s 12 laps which is quite difficult for a newbie to swimming.
Week 1 Swim Program
Warm up: Two 50m laps of slow swimming
Main set: One 50m lap with fins. The fins allow for easier movement through the wate
One 50m lap with pull buoy. The pull buoy ensures focus is on stroke technique, not allowing the elbow to drop
One 50m lap with kickboard. The kickboard forces focus to be on kicking
Warm Down: One 50m lap, slow swimming
I was happy today, that after over 20 years of no swimming, I was able to complete the above program comfortably, plus and an extra half hour of swimming laps without using aids.
There is a lesson in this of course, for anything we attempt. It does not matter how much we think we will look silly or be embarrassed, when out of our comfort zone. When it comes right down to it, nobody cares about this except you. Everyone else is going about their own business, perhaps even feeling out of their comfort zone also. Others around you are focussed on themselves and not at all concerned with what others are doing or look like.
So take my advice, if there is something you would like to try, just do it. Don’t worry about having to be perfect. Even doing whatever it is that gets you excited, in an imperfect way, is better than not doing it at all, because of silly concerns.
Do you get nervous when trying something new? How do you overcome the nervousness and get it done?