Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Physics of Water Displacement, or Why I Now Love Swimming

In my last post, I wrote about 2012 being my Year of Trying New Things ; one New Thing I have a love/hate relationship with is swimming. Yep. Since before Christmas, I've been dragging myself out of bed and off to the pool at our local YMCA for what my friend Fast Jessica has dubbed "Master's Swim." Mondays and Wednesdays, I'm in the pool for 5:30 am.

A couple of things here: 1) I hate getting up early, especially during the Winter when my bed is warm, and the pool is...not; 2) Ugly one piece swim suit + pasty Winter skin + jiggly body parts; 3) As a Sagittarius (fire sign), I'm instinctively cautious around water. I like water, but I don't like water, you know? 4) New commitments are scary.

So I'm getting ready to head to the pool the other morning, and I'm really just not feeling it. I'm in the middle of testing students at work (read: 12 hour days), and I've been battling a persistent cold for over a week; both of these factors make ignoring the 5 am alarm pretty tempting. Not. Even. Motivated. One. Bit. UGH.

But I've made a commitment to myself and the other Master Swimmers (bt dubs, "master" just means "adult"- I am quite clearly a novice) to be there. Accountability, right? I follow as much of the posted workout as time allows, swapping things like 4 X 100 breast stroke for kicking, breathing, and pulling drills. Mojo still under the blankets, I go anyway.

I make my way from the locker area to the showers to the pool, grabbing a kick board and pull buoy on my way to my lane, when I notice something new by my fellow swimmers' lanes: swim fins. See #4 on that list above. I try to ignore them, but Captain Andy explains the sizing system and the benefits of incorporating them, and points to the sets he thinks will be my size. Um, thanks? 

I grab the fins, and set them at the pool's edge with my other equipment. I get in the pool and get through the warm up and the first drill of the workout. The second drill involves the fins. Up until this point, I was hardly what you could call "engaged" with this workout. I was putting in the time, padding my workout log, helping heat the pool with my body warmth. Also, I was nervous.

Swim fins? I still have to talk myself through breathing while swimming, and these guys want me to try fins? In my head, I likened "me + fins" to "new driver + Porsche 911": we aren't ready for each other yet. If my palms were sweaty from the anxiety, I'm thankful no one else was the wiser. I put on the fins, and make a remark about how goofy they look. Deep breath in, and...I. Am. Flying.

Really and truly, all of a sudden I was Dara Torres . I stopped at the end of my lane and said, "WOW!" Out loud, even, because there was that much of a difference. Swim fins = Porsche 911. Giant smile. Before I have to leave, I finished what I could of the workout in a totally different state of mind than when I started. All of the anxiety about trying something new was gone. Thank you, Swim Fins! I love swimming!

And isn't that how life is sometimes? Even though we may say we're committed to trying new things- even verbalizing our intentions- we sometimes struggle with follow through. Even when we are presented with an unexpected tool to help us move forward, we still resist. That day at the pool, the swim fins were my helping hands (or feet?) in sticking it out ; my resistance was literally erased by embracing something new rather than pushing it aside and saying, "I'm not ready."

New Year + Trying New Things = New Outlook. New blog post to follow soon.  In the meantime, I'll see you at the pool.

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