Back in the pool again. Isn't there a song about that?
I was up really early this morning listening to a 4 bark dog. Over and over. Not close and not loud; it was maybe over on the reservation. But constant. barkbarkbarkbark. pause. then again. pause. You get the idea. Plus I'd got a really solid sleep the night before so I knew last night was likely to be restless.
There was even someone to chat with on Facebook - my buddy Nancy in Argentina, getting ready to help a biology class with their English. And a couple other people getting a start on their day.
It's a keen lot at this pool, people lining up before the door is unlocked. Not that many in the pool though, I got a lane to myself. The swim is coming back together nicely. I cruised through a 20 minute (to the second) K. Then some kick, pull, fist, work on technique, and backstroke to finish.
Swimming is such a mental game. So subtle. Back in the late 80's or so I was a pretty regular swimmer. I got down to where I could reliably swim a 17 minute K, and was beginning to work on aiming at 16 minutes. About then I was often swimming with a really pregnant woman. She was really good, and it was fun to try to keep up. I see now that I was getting by on pure strength, and very little technique.
Then I didn't swim for years and years. I started again maybe 2004 or so, and holy crap. You see, I remembered swimming a 20 minute K and not even getting my heart rate into the aerobic zone. I thought it would be easy. It took YEARS!! I'll never forget the first swim. It was at Inglewood, which is sort of a weird pool. It was less than 50 m and I knew I was going to have a problem. I think I swam 100 m that day. It took a long time before I could even swim 1 K all at once, and much longer to do it in 20 minutes. The first time I nearly burst a lung doing it. The second time, 2 days later, was nearly 30 seconds faster, and I was on top of my breathing. It felt amazing to reach that goal.
Today I was pretty sure I'd make that target, though my left shoulder has some weird pains. I think my cold office is part of the problem. Plus lots of work, plus time pressure, plus office stuff. Even so, the swimming relaxes it. During my run up to IM my yoga classes were kind of strange in that almost everything I was doing with my left arm hurt, including many of the breathing exercises, yet swimming didn't hurt and in fact felt good. (My yoga teacher thinks I'm a bit odd, and she is but one of many.)
Today I wasn't pushing hard, nor was I lollygagging around, just having a nice swim, trying to work on technique. That elbows up thing, and all. Body position. Making friends with the water again, that's so important, the water feel. (Julie is laughing! But she believes now.) Most people flop that arm out in front of them, grab a handful of air and water, and try to pull it to their hip. That doesn't work so well. Bubbles everywhere. What you want to do is get that hand in the water like a knife, leaving no bubbles at all. Then (remembering that game you played as a kid making airplane wings with your hand outside the car) your hand and forearm angle down into the water, with your elbow still up near the surface. The trick to this is to rotate your arm so your elbow joint points as upward as possible. During a lunch break at the camp, Julie, Sarah (not Sara) and me were playing with this. We got some odd looks. Then once your hand and arm are vertical in the water you leave it there. I say again, it does not move. For a third time, and what I tell you three times is true, your hand and arm do not move relative to the water. Using that hand and arm as an anchor, you slide your body past it as if it was on rollers, and you'd grabbed part of the roller support rack. The water doesn't let you do this unless you make friends with it. There, that is the major secret of swimming fast and efficiently. Make friends with the water.
Going for a swim first thing is a great way to wake up. Pity the pool isn't open 24 hours. There are times I'd be there at 3 am, swimming lap after lap. It's been a couple weeks since I started getting more regular here, aiming for 2x a week. At first it was pretty rocky, but progress has been swift. I'm remembering the swim camp nearly a year ago now, and how that felt. I'd like to get there again. Soon. Well, soonish.