I hit the pool at my local Rec Centre this morning to do laps for the first time in my entire life.
The running injury is still healing and it’s a good, low impact sport. I was ready to kick it. Despite never doing formal laps in a huge pool, I was a pretty good swimmer as a kid…
Turns out kidhood was a long time ago. I should’ve done more research.
If I had done more research I would have known that if you’re unsure of your speed, it’s okay—and encouraged—to pick the empty lane and see how you go. Instead, I picked the busier Medium lane.
An elderly man in the water nodded forward and said “you can go first, you’re faster than me.” I laughed, told him I hadn’t been swimming in a long time, and kicked off without a thought.
If I had done more research I would have likely avoided the small emotional crash that was waiting for me at the end of my own foolishness. I would have found out that starting out swimming is HARD.
After awkwardly struggling for a few laps and trying to figure out the pattern the swimmers were moving in (I should have researched this too, sigh), I returned to the starting wall to see two lifeguards.
It was like a movie, when someone returns home to find two cops in their kitchen and you know they’re busted. The pool cops kindly directed me to the “Slow” lane, which was empty, while seniors glided with clean backstrokes in the background.
Then one of the pool cops told me to stick to the left-hand side… by the wall.
She totally thought I was going to drown. That’s how bad my form was.
Only slightly embarrassed, I headed to the Slow Lane and finished up the rest of my 30 minute swim, trying to correct a form I hadn’t used since kiddie swimming lessons with research I didn’t have. Trying to breath through the motions of the front stroke. Trying not to let the old feeling of gym class humiliation settle in and ruin the experience.
Even as I’m writing this, I realize how crazy it was to dive in without further reading. The assumption that I could just bust out an amazing front stroke on-demand with little experience and no practice is crazy.
As my friend Baz put it, “No one (who is sane) who hasn’t run in ten years is going to join a half marathon with no training or work up.”
If it was arrogance, my ego has been properly deflated. If it was stupidity… lesson learned.
Only thing to do now is Google and get back into the pool.