This week I (finally) tried out U.S. Masters Swimming with the O*H*I*O club in Lakewood. I had been wanting to try for a while but never have. The week of New Years I was going to but classes were canceled due to weather.
Wednesday evening I showed up at Lakewood High school, where they practice, a little early. Once I found the pool, I found Bob, the coach. I introduced myself and he asked me a few questions about my swimming experience. Around 30 people showed up for practice that night which I’m told is a lot. He assigned me to a lane (one of the slower ones!) which I shared with three other people—one of which I knew through work. The biggest challenge was figuring out some of the terminology they use. I picked up swimming on my own in college—never been on a team where I would have learned all that. Thankfully everyone was pretty friendly and helped me out. For the most part, I was able to keep up with the others in my lane, although I wasn’t always doing the right thing at the right time. Circle swimming in a lane with four people is challenging if you aren’t all at the same pace. I didn’t get any individualized instruction that night due to the size of the group. After we finished, the coach came up to me and explained that it’s normally not that crowded and to keep coming! So I did.
Thursday I showed up and the group was about half the size, partially due to the fact that Thursday practices are at 8:30 p.m. Jim coaches on Thursdays so I had a similar conversation with him as I did with the Bob the previous night. He asked if I minded him giving me advice on my technique, to which I replied “of course not, that’s why I’m here!” I only had to share a lane with one other person that night so we split it, side by side. This made it easier to concentrate on my form rather than just trying to not run into someone. After I swam for a bit, Jim started to give me some advice. Apparently I’m doing a bunch wrong (although he put it nicely). My arms don’t extend as far as they should, I don’t swim completely upright (flat) and I turn my body too much when I breath. All things that can be fixed with practice—possibly months just to fix the arm thing. He had me use a pull buoy for pretty much the rest of the practice to keep my legs up and concentrate on my arms. I was able to make some progress, although with years of swimming the wrong way, it felt odd and slow. At some point, I used my legs again for a kick set with 12, 50 yard intervals. Due to me being slow, I only had a few seconds rest in-between (if any). My legs hurt after. Jim said my body was dragging through the water rather than gliding on top, which would explain why I was so much slower. There was also a point where I was swimming back stroke and hit my head on the wall. I know to turn when I see the flags, but for some reason, I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t. The coach saw that and told me to just swim freestyle for the rest of the set.
I do plan to go back. Hopefully this coming week. Although as I’m writing, I’m drinking ginger green tea because my throat is getting a little scratchy. I ran outside today and had also planed to also bike on my trainer, but just wasn’t up to it. I’m either getting sick or had a little too much fun last night.