Hi everyone! Fun fact: training for a triathlon is HARD. It’s literally 3 sports all rolled into one, and if you count transitions too you’ve got even more to learn, prep for, and worry about! As a total tri newbie, I realized that it would be a good idea for me to write some posts from a newbie’s point of view on what the training process is like. I’m calling it The Tri Newbie Chronicles, and I’ll try to post them once a week until my first tri in May! Each week I’ll write about one thing I’ve learned/conqured/endured during my first tri training.
This week, I’m starting out with the scariest thing I’ve done since signing up for the Gold Nugget Tri a few weeks ago: my very first swim lessons! I’ve been a nervous mess about my minimal swimming skills since signing up for the GNT. I took swim lessons when I was a little kid and officially learned how to swim by the end of elementary school, but since passing my swim test to gain access into the deep end of the Antietam Pool (aka where all the cool kids got to swim) I’ve been mostly doggy paddling and floating around whenever I swim. Obviously I can’t do 500 yards of leisurely padding in the pool on race day, so I decided to sign up for 4 weeks of adult swim lessons at Alaska Pacific University.
Day one of swim class was on Tuesday, and I was nervous for a few days before the lesson. I feel like my overall swimming form could be defined as “controlled flailing”, and while I knew I was comfortable in the water I was also embarrassed about my total lack of knowledge about swimming. I showed up at 5:00 pm and was surprised to learn there were only two other girls in class with me! They were also signed up for the GNT and it was their first tri as well, so I immediately felt a million times better about the lesson. We had 2 instructors there for class, and I felt really comfortable knowing that they were going to be able to give me tons of feedback on my form. Here’s how the class went down:
- We had to do one lap of swimming right away so they could check out our form, AKA so they could see what they were working with. I was told that I looked like I had swam before but needed some work on my form, which was a huge relief to me.
- Our first lesson was to hold a kickboard out in front of us and work on kicking. I learned that you want to kick using your whole leg instead of just your knees – kind of like kicking a soccer ball – and that the strength is coming from your hips. I was excited to pick this up really fast and noticed a huge difference when I changed my kicking motion!
- The next step was to put my head in the water while kicking. This took some work since I apparently hold my head up a bit even when my face is in the water, so I worked on this for a while. Breathing is harder than it looks!
- At this point, my instructor told me that she was moving me a bit farther ahead than the other girls because my form was great and I was ready for it. I was in shock because I’m never at the top of my class in anything I do, so that gave me a lot of confidence to try the next step: face in the water, kicking strong, and also moving my arms with each breath I took – all with the kickboard of course. I worked on that for probably 20 minutes and it was way tougher than it sounds. I was out of breath many times, but it was so cool to realize that I was slowly getting the hang of putting everything together!
When class ended the other girls congratulated me on doing such a great job, and I was totally blown away by how well I’d done. I want to remind everyone reading this that I have spent most of my life being the least athletic person in everything I do – from the time that I played middle school field hockey and was always JV, through my high school softball days (I was at second base half the time and the bench the rest of the time), to my brief stint on my sorority’s soccer team where I sat on the sidelines for all but 1 game, and even my years as a slow runner. Even though I knew it was just me and two other newbie tri swimmers, I still was extremely proud of myself for doing so well and getting the hang of it so quickly. This may never happen again in my life so I’m going to embrace this moment and use it to motivate myself to keep training! I’m already looking forward to Thursday’s class!
So happy I decided to learn how to swim!
Overall, I highly recommend that any newbie swimmers take an adult swim class if possible. I can tell it’s going to be worth the investment because I’m going to learn how to swim with correct form and also learn how to feel comfortable in a pool. Plus it looks like I’ll be meeting some new training partners too!
Have you ever taken swim lessons as an adult? What’s the one thing you were surprised to learn you didn’t totally suck at doing?