Well, the answer to that is probably no, because if I were the world’s worst swimmer I would likely not have survived Saturday’s misadventure in the pool. But I’m certainly not destined for a distance swimming career.
To back up, swimming has been a lifelong obstacle for me. My parents had the well-intentioned idea to sign me up for swimming lessons when I was a small child. Rather than making me a more confident little swimmer, I was forced off a diving board and acquired a lifelong fear of jumping into a pool and being underwater. Further complicating this issue, my high school had the (again) well-intentioned idea of requiring all students to pass a swim test before graduation. Year after year, I was forced into the pool in an attempt to pass that damn test. Ultimately I did of course, but it did nothing to assuage my negative feelings about being in the water. While all my high school friends were on the swim team, the idea of even jumping off the blocks made me quiver in fear.
Fast forward to present day. Here in Tucson I have access to a great, outdoor swimming facility at the U of A… and I have politely ignored it for years. Last summer I decided to face my fears and signed up for some private swim lessons I bought with a Groupon. The results were a surprise to me. It turns out I’m actually not a bad swimmer… when I’m doing it right. My backstroke was so strong that my coach asked me if I had ever been on a swim team before. But the backstroke is easy. On my back, there’s about zero chance of sinking and drowning. Any stroke where I need to put my face in the water is a different story. Yep, I have issues.
After lessons last year, I was still too timid to actually try swimming as a workout. This year, though, I’d like to try again. I know my weaknesses, and I know now that becoming a good swimmer for me mostly means getting out of my own head. On Saturday I did a practice swim as a fitness test and I was able to do 500 meters, alternating between front crawl/freestyle and backstroke, but there was a lot of gasping between breaths and the final laps were definitely not speedy or quality. So, I’m going to try this learn to swim program from About.com with the goal of swimming 3x/week for 6 weeks and building to where I can (hopefully) do a quality 500 meter swim workout. Face in the water and all. Workout #1 today was quite manageable, and I even did a couple of strong laps before my body hit panic mode and I wanted to breathe on every single stroke again. What can I say, it’s a work in progress. If this goes well, expect to hear more about my summer swim challenge!