Slowest Fish in the Pond

Despite not having my bike (our stuff is still sitting in Australian customs…) my first Aussie triathlon is just a month away, and I haven’t had a serious swim workout for 4.5 months.

I joined a masters swimming program in the city  (Aussie’s don’t say “downtown” – that’s a sepo [American] term), and had my first two swims this week.

Practice #1 was brutal and horrendous – despite the workout not being nearly as tough or as long as any of my T3 workouts in the second half of 2010, I felt like I was relearning to swim.   Mostly it’s a lack of muscle strength and endurance, due to not being in the water in an eon.  It was also the first time I’ve ever done a full workout in a 50 m pool…

I kept screwing up the drills, largely because I couldn’t understand the instructor – with water in my ears I couldn’t tell the difference between the phrase “25” and “75”, which makes a big difference in the drills.  And I was dragging by the end of the practice – my heart rate was not elevated, but my core, legs, and arms were shot.  Pretty clear what I need to do – swim more, get more core work.

Practice #2 was better – I had a better feel for the water and was able to push myself more than practice #1.  The difference between training and just surviving.  Here, no one says “practice” – I was at swim training, and one of my mates from work was at basketball training.  No practice here.  I’ll try and stick with my Aussie vocab from now on.  Regardless, once we started slightly longer distances (200, 300 meters) I began to fade again, slipping water and not being able to push through.  It’s going to come back, I just need to keep pushing.

Our team takes up two lanes of the 50m aquatic center – a fast lane and a slow lane.  I am in the slow lane.  Despite my swimming background and it being my strong suit in the sport of triathlon, I’m currently the slowest bloke in the two lanes that make up masters swimming.  And that’s exactly what’s going to propel me to push myself harder.  Or drown.

I kept thinking about the folks in my lane in the morning swims at T3 and how they’d certainly recognize my lopsided freestyle, but not the agua-slug place that I was thrashing through.  Patience grasshopper.  That, or receive CPR.

I know where I was in terms of fitness in November, and that level would put me right on the margin between the fast and slow lane.  All the more motivation to get into the fast lane and try and survive.  Or drown.

The crawl stroke was invented in Australia, after all.  It definitely feels like I’m crawling.

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