I am a Pisces. I LOVE the water! I enjoy listening to the waves crash against the surf at Virginia Beach. Watching the James River meander through the city relaxes me. Swimming in the water that I love so much....that’s a different story.
As a kid I learned how to survival swim. I could swim well enough to play in the pool and at Water Country USA without drowning, but that’s about it. Survival swimming also meant I learned how to swim with my head above the water. Survival swimming is not something you want to do during a triathlon. It is inefficient and will cause you to tire out very quickly.
Once I got it into my head that I was going to do a sprint triathlon, I knew I had to learn how to swim correctly. I became a community member at my local YMCA and began taking swimming lessons. Each lesson was a struggle. I couldn’t swim 25 meters without stopping several times. Instead of embracing the water I fought it, or in my mind it fought me. My swim instructor kept telling me how great I was doing, but I wasn’t hearing it. I left feeling defeated after every lesson, vowing not to return.
I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why learning how to swim freestyle was so difficult for me. I was a Pisces for goodness sake’s! I am supposed to take to the water like the fish that I am supposed to be! Every time I got into the water I would become tense. My breathing would speed up and my heart would race. During a training session in which I was sharing a lane with several people, I stepped into the corner of the lane and just cried since I was so overwhelmed. Fortunately for me the other swimmers were very understanding and coaxed me out of the corner.
Even though I struggled to learn how to swim freestyle and had wanted to quit more times than I could count, I knew I had to keep going. First, I was determined to do my first triathlon. Secondly, I did not want to be like so many African-Americans that could not swim. According to a 2010 survey done by USA Swimming, almost 70% of African-American children surveyed could barely or not swim at all. And I am going to assume if the children can’t swim, most likely their parents can’t either.
As stated in my first post, the swim for my triathlon was rough. I had a panic attack before I entered the pool. I didn’t even swim half of the distance. My only goal was to get to the wall by any means necessary. After that race I didn’t get back into the pool for almost 2 months.
After my 2 month hiatus, I decided to get back into the swing of things. My first time back into the pool went better than anticipated. I didn’t tense nor have an anxiety attack. I got in the pool and swam. I can’t say I was fully relaxed, but I was ok. It appeared that the break had done me some good.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving I had a major breakthrough while swimming with some of my TRIgirl teammates. A bunch of us had met at the Y to do our own swim session. Our coached session had been canceled for the holiday. While doing a drill it occurred to me why I was fighting the water and tensing up so much. I was not trusting myself! I did not trust that I could properly execute what I had learned. So as I swam I talked to myself. I kept reminding myself that I was not going to drown, that I could swim, but if there was an issue I could tread water. And if things go really bad, I could always yell for the lifeguard. That day I started to enjoy swimming.
Here it is December and I can honestly say I enjoy swimming. I look forward to my swim workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments. Sometimes I doubt my ability and have to talk my way through my workout. Other times I am frustrated because I still get easily winded when I swim and my endurance is not where I want it to be. But all in all I know I have found my inner fish. No longer do I consider myself Flipper on Crack when I swim.
I am a Pisces. I am a fish. The water is my playground.