The Great Pool Panic

This post, although edited, originally appeared on Instagram where I started this blog.

what to wear for your first triathlon

Ah, swimming. Or should I say ‘ARGH! Swimming!’  If you go too far wrong, you can drown or get eaten by a shark – so it’s pretty important that a triathlete gets this bit right.  I am confident that I could breast stroke just about any distance, but I would be too slow (I know this because I timed myself, in a desperate bid to convince the planet that I could be the first triathlete to complete all swim sections doing breast stroke)

I don’t need to be the fastest triathlete – let’s face it, at this point I’m focusing on just crossing the finish line.  But if I go too slow in a long race, I might not make the cut-off to start the bike ride, leading to disqualification.  So I have to learn freestyle.

The first morning of going to the pool instead of the gym I felt quite nervous.  I’d had it confirmed by Shane that I looked ‘like a knob’ in my swimmers, cap and goggles – so walking into the pool area as the new girl was quite daunting.  I hopped into the first empty lane I spotted, hoping that there is no unwritten rule about newbies only being allowed to use particular lanes or anything.  I wondered whether my beloved elliptical trainer was missing me as much as I missed it and did a couple of lengths of breast stroke to warm up. It was easy.  So I went for it – freestyle!

I pushed off from the wall, imagining myself to be a cross between a beautiful mermaid and Liesel Jones at the Olympics.  And suddenly I lost all of my breath for no reason.  And the panic rose within me like a ball of fire.  And I thought I would die.

I couldn’t work out what was wrong – breast stroke was fine, but no matter how many times I tried freestyle, I couldn’t even go half a length without floundering about like an electrocuted starfish and feeling like those evil things from Harry Potter were sucking the breath out of me.  I managed 45 minutes of breast stroke interspersed with 4 failed attempts at freestyle, and toddled off home.

The Great Pool Panic of October 6th was my first reality check that in fact I am not a qualified triathlete.  Google had lied to me.  I can’t just imagine that I know how to swim and then magically do it.  As with any new thing, there is a logical process of learning, with steps that will ensure some success.  I had to go home and Google the steps (that magical search engine; it builds me up, breaks me down, then rescues me) so that I could implement a proper training program that meant changing my diary notes from ‘don’t forget swimming tomoz’ to more technical instructions such as ‘sink 5 times, practice strong exhalation, kick length x 2, don’t panic’.

The only direction from here is improvement, so let’s see how it goes!  Please leave a comment below if you liked this post!

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