Like I mentioned before, a month or so back when I received my knee diagnosis, I asked my doctor if I could bike until my surgery. (I had stopped biking mostly out of frustration of the situation.) I received the ever so reassuring **shrug** and the response of “well, you probably can’t hurt it any more than it already is”. Hmm, okkkaayyyyyy...... His nurse also mentioned swimming. “Do you swim? You can pretty much always swim.” With that simple statement, I started to look into it.
Now, if water sliding would provide cardio benifits, I would be SO fit!!
I don’t swim laps. Up until a month ago, I had tried swimming laps exactly twice before…. And those times were across a normal play-pool – not exactly Michael Phelps style training. In doing so I learned:
- I’m not a fish and thus cannot breath under water
- Related to revelation #1, water in my lungs hurts a lot
- Water in my ears feels like one of those amazon worms crawling into my brain
- I can have 5% body fat and still have a muffin top while wearing triathlete spandex shorts
So, when I tried to actually learn how to swim laps a month or so ago with Laura (who is an excellent swimmer), I was essentially starting from square one. Laura offered lots of great tips like “You’d be faster if you didn’t hack and cough so much” and “keep the water on the outside of your body not in your lungs”. Just kidding, she did exactly what I wanted and provided no tips – just let me figure it out on my own. I guess I am pretty thick-headed when it comes to trying to power through things on my own via brute force.
And...well... It is actually starting to work! I've swam 1000yds a handful of times while only choking on water a few times each session. The main issue that I've been having is pacing - I simply go way too fast. Either that or I just suck / don't have the fitness I need. After I do 100 or 150 yards I am GASPING for air and need to take a few moments to catch my breath. But, as long as I catch my breath every few minutes (in spite of still being impossibly hard and even more humbling), it is coming.
I think the thing that surprised me most about swimming is indeed how humbling it is. I've always been an above average athlete and am most certainly a well below average swimmer. I've had the opportunity to be lapped by Laura more times than I would like to admit - which I have no problems admitting bothered me at first. But, I've decided that I'm going to look at it two ways: First, everyone is a beginner at everything at some point. All it takes is throwing off the training wheels and practicing more (usually after I hack up all the water I swallowed). Second, while I'll likely get better, I will probably never be "great", which is just fine. I've never wanted to be a professional swimmer (their abs? Different story) so just being mediocre is fine. Because, let's call a spade a spade, this is really a bandaid until I can do what I actually enjoy - running. Something my surgery should hopefully get me back to ASAP.