Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Met The Devil...

Just a little tidbit of information for you, the devil is not a man, it is a woman, and her real first name is Margaret. This past Saturday I traded what I was comfortable doing, riding my bike, and got out of my comfort zone and went to my first swim lesson. I don't know how many times I thought about calling her the night before, making a right turn instead of a left on the way there, anything to get out of it.

But I made it to the Y and make my way, slowly I might add, to the inside pool thinking there would be some type of human shark lurking in the water waiting for me. I was running a little early so it gave me a chance to catch up with what was going on at the bulletin board on the wall to get my mind off of what I had gotten myself into. A couple of minutes later, the devil walked up and introduced herself. She seemed nice but I knew by the width of her shoulders, that extra glass of wine last night might jave been the worst ddecision of my entire life!

We made our way in the pool and she asked me how far I thought I could swim before my form started to break down. If I was honest, I would have said my form starts breaking down as I enter the pool at the steps. But trying to keep any sense of pride I might have had, the words "2 laps" trickled from my lips. Well, looking back, I should have said 25 yards cause she then says, "Well then, let me see you do 4 laps."

Huh? Did I sstutter or did I not pronounce my "2" correctly? Is she kidding? Well, it's not funny.

I was thinking to myself I gave up riding my bike, my one true love besides my wife and family, to drown myself in the overly-chlorinated, indoor YMCA pool!?!?!? But I figured she knew what she was doing and I started my 200 yard trip through hell. Now it had been about a week since I had been in the pool so I was a little rusty. I was hitting aerobic threshold/oxygen deprevation about lap 3. She would lay on the botttom of the pool and watch we go over her. At some point I remember sitting at the other end of the pool just looking at her trying to find any of the oxygen that was NOT present in my lungs at that point. When I was done, I knew I would be alright if I didn't have to speak. She went on about my lack of form, body position, head position, etc., etc. I was able to respond to her with head knods and that was about it while I wiped drool from my lips and snot from my nose.

And to keep it in perspective, we were only about 10 minutes into an hour long lesson and I was a little worried about what was in store. I felt like the new Marine that was being broken down.

So at this point, she knew what she was working with... not much. She did have some encouraging words saying that I was one of the very few new swimmers she had come across that actually had some sort of a catch. I didn't really know what that meant but I thanked her anyway with my head knod. But body position was the main thing we would work on.

For the next 30 minutes we worked on head and body position. My head was too far up so we did some drills to work on getting it further down in the water. This would in turn raise my butt closer to the surface of the water. She also said the Billabong knee length swimsuit was going to have to go. It created too much drag and was messing up my form. She said once I did that, my butt would be at the surfaace where it needed to be and I would look like a seal gracefully slip sliding through the water effortlessly like a ballet in tights. Well, she didn't say that but that is what I am shooting for.

After that I felt like I was home free. We were doing drills and everything was hunky dory. Oxygen was a pplenty. Now it was time to work on my kick. And to do that, she needed to find out how strong my legs were. Well, from previous experience, I knew this was not going to be good. And then she said... "you are not going to like me after this one." Great! The devil is back. She had just been taunting me the last 30 minutes.

She got out of the pool and went and got a kickboard and gave it to me. She asked me to get to the other side as fast as I could. I did and made it in 23 seconds. She thought that was awesome. She said I had one of the strongest kicks she had seen from a new swimmer. That made me feel pretty good cause I was beat! But now she wanted to work on getting my kick faster, with shorter stokes and better technique. She had me do 6 lengths. Each length I had 35 seconds to get to the other side, rest and start again.

Well, I may have done the first one in 23 seconds, but that is because I didn't know I was going to have to do more! The first 5 lengths, I got to rest anywhere between 3 -7 seconds. The last length, I made it to the other side in 40 seconds. I was DYING! She said that if I was kicking right, that my legs would be in serious pain around my hips. Well, for the next 3 days, I was constantly reminded that I was kicking correctly cause it took them that long for the pain to go away! I hurt in places I didn't know I had. Now I know what it would feel like if someone stood behind me and stabbed me repeatedly with steak knives in my hips.

All in all though, this was an incredible experience. Margaret is an incredible instructor and doesn't mess around and I like that. She is also not the devil and definatley knoews her stuff. This was not a simple learn to swim lesson. It was more like a Learn To Win at Swimming lesson. Every now aand then, we have to get out of our comfort zone and try and learn something new. I seriously suck at swimming but it has always been something I have wanted to learn how to do. So why not do it? I hate regret.

A little bit of swimmer trivia: Did you know that Olympic swimmer Michael Phlps wears a size 23 shoe? Tell me that doesn't help his kick!!!!