I like to see myself as a healthy person. During my injury, I have been on my windtrainer for about 100 miles/week and I make it to yoga 3 or 4 times a week. When I am not injured, I am running – a lot and well. I feel strong. I feel fit. But when I get into the water, I am quickly humbled.
I am not a good swimmer and I am finding that frustrating. Years ago, before kids, I was in the water five times a week – slow but able to swim 1600 metres without stopping and strong enough to swim over 5 miles a week. During that time, I taught myself how to breathe bilaterally; during the 20-odd years away from the water, I managed to forget everything that I learned.
So here I am, 55 years old, trying to relearn old tricks. For the most part, I think my strokes are good, but I am slow. With practice, I have figured out bilateral breathing again by slowing down my stroke and focusing on the count: 1, 2, 3 (breathe), 1, 2, 3 (breathe) and so on. Now the crawl is a little easier, and I might even be a smidge faster, but I still feel completely out of shape when I swim from one end of the pool to the next.
I’m trying to stay positive, though. I’m swimming again, and I have swum more in the past 6 months than in the past 20 years. That’s progress. Also, I am intentionally keeping my distance at the low-end for now (500 to 750 metres) while I focus on breathing and skill, and I am getting it – more progress. I still have goals in sight; by the end of the month, I hope to be able to swim 1000 metres and, if things go better, swim more than 100 metres without feeling like my lungs are going to explode.
For me, swimming is hard. But other things have been tough too: running after an break (like pregnancy or an injury), cycling in cleats for the first time, getting into a crow position in yoga. Swimming is just one more challenge to add to my list of things to accomplish; I have done it before and I will do it again. It may take me a while to get to where I want to be, but I will get there.