Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

April 6, 2009 at 1:42 PM (Friends, Goals, Happenings) (, )

Okay, I’ve already blogged about swimming. It’s not interesting for you anymore. I get it. Guess what?  Tough noogies.

I’m glad that my friend Christen is so eager to swim in the mornings, because if not, I don’t think I’d be able to drag myself out of bed before 7.00 to physically exert myself.  I’m too good of a person to stand someone else up though, particularly at that hour, so we’ve been pretty successful at making good on our morning plans thus far.

Today was a new accomplishment: I managed to complete a 100-IM (Individual Medley: 1 lap butterfly, 1 lap backstroke, 1 lap breaststroke, 1 lap freestyle).  Granted, the lifeguard and anyone else watching probably had a good laugh, and I am thankful that I wasn’t swimming for time, but, gee-whiz, I still did it!  What made it even more impressive for me was that 1.) it was at the end of our morning swim session, and 2.) I was not an IMer when I swam competitively.  My breaststroke and backstroke are terribly weak, and I only began to swim butterfly in the 200-medley relay in my last year of competitive swimming.  The fact that my out-of-swim-shape carcass managed to flail through a 100-IM was enough to put me in a good mood for the day.

Another success for me today was getting through a solid 25-yard butterfly before my mini-IM.  For the first time in months, that one lap of what I consider to be one of the trickier strokes actually felt good.  And I only had to breathe twice.

Swim Goals
1. Get through 50-fly.  Short-term
2. Swim more, break less.  Short-term
3. Make mini(100)-IM effortless.  Mid-term
4. Increase 50-fly to 100-fly. Mid-term
5. Survive 200-IM.  Long-term
6. Reintroduce 500-free to repertoire.  Long-term

I still have a long way to go before I ever come close to the shape I’d achieved back in the day (and since I have no interest in swimming competitively ever again, I may never get there), but I’m making progress.  Slowly.  But still making progress.  I just have to remind myself of the words of a swimmer who I consider to be quite wise:

“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming – what do we do?  We swim, swim . . . ”

Today’s Tune
“Delicate,” Damien Rice
“The Blower’s Daughter,” Damien Rice
“Cannonball,” Damien Rice
“Older Chests,” Damien Rice
“Amie,” Damien Rice
“Cheers Darlin’,” Damien Rice


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The Power of the Morning Swim

January 26, 2009 at 6:19 PM (Musings) (, , )

Last night, I was seething, to put it lightly.  I’m talking “woe to the soul who dares to stand ‘twixt me and, well, just about anything” enraged.  I won’t delve into details, because they’re irrelevant, but, have you ever thought to yourself that you’ve gotten over an incident with someone, only to realise that upon seeing that person, it takes every ounce of self-restraint in your being to keep from retching, throttling the person, or both?  It makes me think of a Julie de Lespinasse quote: “You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul.”  Granted, the quote’s a bit radical for my situation (I’d like to think, at least), but I found it in someone’s Facebook profile once and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Anyway, the person in question hadn’t done anything wrong yesterday, I suppose – or maybe so, but it’s all subjective – but being in a particular environment under just the right circumstances still cultured a knot in my stomach the size of a small grapefruit.  As I battled my fight-or-flight reflex, I remembered something someone had told me several months ago: “You never really get over someone, I’ve found.  As you push them out of your life, the effect they have on you stays with you, but gets buried with time, and you tell yourself that you’re over them.  As soon as they turn up on the radar again, though, you’re just as much of a mess as you were the last time you encountered them.  I know that I personally had some people in my life, who I wish never to see, or even hear their name, again.”  I guess I had managed to reopen my first wound.  I wasn’t so much angry with the person, but with myself for being so easily affected by someone.

I came home last night emotionally drained, and sorely tempted to have at least one more drink before going to bed.  I refrained, instead vowing to swim in the morning.  Before retiring, I asked the little wanderer if she had any interest in joining me for an 8.30 A. M. swim, and she tentatively agreed.  Although I was exhausted, I tossed and turned for what felt like an hour before finally falling asleep.

My alarm chirped at me as menacingly as usual this morning, but for once, I was determined not to opt for a snooze.  In contrast, I lept out of bed to brew a pot of coffee.  I knocked on the little wanderer’s door first, and heard nothing.  Knowing that she’d been up late working on grad school applications, I decided not to disturb her.  However, once I started the coffee, I heard an equally annoying phone alarm: this time it was the little wanderer’s.  I held my breath.  Although I was planning on swimming regardless of company, I still hoped I wouldn’t be going alone.  Calorie-burning misery loves company.

I was in luck: my suitemate emerged and welcomed the the cup of coffee that awaited her in exchange for swimming companionship.  My mood was still less than savoury, but knowing that I wouldn’t be swimming alone lifted my spirits somewhat.

I hoisted myself out of the pool an hour later feeling like a new person.  The endorphins had outdone themselves: I may as well have just scored my dream job, I was so content.  Although I still harbour some bitter feelings, those are tucked away for now, and I don’t plan on letting them get to me for as long as I can help it.  When they do take over again, though, it’s good to know that they’re somewhat water-soluble.

Today’s Tunes
“Four Minutes,” Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake
“Keeps Gettin’ Better,” Christina Aguilera
“Miss Independent,” Ne-Yo
“Dangerous,” Kardinal Offishall feat. Akon
“If I Never See Your Face Again,” Maroon 5 feat. Rihanna
“So What,” P!nk
“Gyrate,” Da Muzicianz feat. Mr. Collipark
“American Boy,” Estelle feat. Kanye West
“See You In My Nightmares,” Kanye West feat. Lil Wayne
“Viva la Vida,” Coldplay
“Womanizer,” Britney Spears
“I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz
“Love Song,” Sara Bareilles

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Good Habits Are a Beast to Revive (But Well Worth It)

January 22, 2009 at 12:51 AM (Friends, Goals, Happenings) ()

FINALLY got my sorry posterior to the pool this morning with the little wanderer, and I don’t think we could be happier.  We’d talked about swimming together this semester, and both cringed when we realised that the only recreational swim slot we had in common was from 6.00 to 9.00 A. M., but we still promised each other we’d start going (after all, I had managed to swim at 7.00 A.M. last summer, and that was when I lived almost a mile from the pool; now it’s right next door).

Take #1 was a dismal failure, taking place last week.  Early in the week we discussed swimming that week, and that was as far as we got.  Let’s hear it for drive to succeed!

Take #2 was marginally more successful: we actually made firm plans on Sunday night to wake up at 7.30 and swim at 8.00.  My roommate went out for a culture event, and I stayed up late writing in my blog (guess which one of us is the cool one . . .).  On Monday morning, I dutifully got out of bed and knocked on the little wanderer’s door to see if she was up.  I think her response was in English, but I couldn’t be sure.  Meanwhile, my damn roommate was already up and about.  She too had woken up early to go to the gym, but found that it would be opening later due to MLK Day – she had tried to go at 7.00, only to find that the doors would not open until 8.00.  I suddenly became hopeful: perhaps the pool’s morning hours had been cut for the day.  I tried calling the gym’s front desk, but only heard an automated response.  I started to feel a little guilty: as much as I wanted to get back into a healthy habit, I was still incredibly lazy when it came to physically exerting myself before noon.  My damn roommate looked through a window: “It looks like the lights are on in the pool.”  I groaned as I looked for myself.  Sure enough, the lights were on in the pool area, and the water was rippling.  As I continued to stare, two swimmers in identical suits and caps came into view, flip turned, and disappeared as quickly as they’d appeared.  Then I decided that it must have been a team practise.  I knocked on the little wanderer’s door again to inform her of the situation, and before retreating to my own bed to get another hour of sleep, I suggested that we try again later that week, to which she mumbled in agreement.  She did not wake up until 11.00 that morning.

Take #3.  Yesterday we talked about trying to swim again, and agreed to target a 7.30 wake-up accompanied by intravenous caffeine doses (okay, not really, but we did have a BIG pot of coffee ready to go for this morning), and an 8.00 A.M. swim.  I went to bed before midnight, and I assume that the little wanderer followed suit shortly thereafter.  This morning, I bolted out of bed to make coffee as my phone alarm chirped at me with despicable cheer.  Like Monday, I shuffled over to my roommate’s door and knocked.   Her alarm was blaring louder than mine.  I knocked.


“Coffee’s on!”

“Oh thank God!  Yes!”

Within five minutes, we were pouring our life source into mugs and drinking up, and we puttered around the apartment waiting for the caffeine to kick.  By 8.35, we were on our way.   I felt fine in the locker room, which came as a mild surprise to me: usually I entered a pool area with a sense of dread, a mentality that screamed “Please don’t make me short of breath!”  I needn’t have worried myself, though.  That feeling hit as I stood two feet from the water’s edge as I prepared to dive.  I dipped my big toe into the water, knowing full-well that it wouldn’t help me prepare for the icy blast that awaited me once I submerged myself, but I was shocked to discover that either my toe had nothing but dead nerves, or that the water wasn’t as chilly as I’d expected.  There was only one way to find out.  I dove in.

Swimming felt just as fantastic as it had when I’d gotten back into it last summer (view that post here), only better because I actually had goggles.  The little wanderer and I laughed as we recalled what zombies we were not two hours earlier.  Fifteen minutes later, we were kicked out: recreational swim was over until noon.  I grinned at my roommate as I said, “Best workout of my life.”  She snickered as she agreed wholeheartedly.

It was a small success, but it was still a success, nonetheless.  Who knows?  Maybe on Friday we’ll manage to swim for a half an hour.

Today’s Tunes
“A Change Is Gonna Come,” Seal
“Puttin’ On the Ritz,” TACO
“Eleanor Rigby,” The Beatles
“Gunslinger (Runnin’ Out of Time),” Over It
“Boom!” System of a Down
“Say It Right,” Nelly Furtado
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Blue Öyster Cult
“Honey Pie,” The Beatles
“Black & Gold (Remix),” Sam Sparro
“Keep On Walking,” Jem
“This Cowboy Song,” Sting
“Smoke on the Water,” Machine Head
“Anon: Korobushka,” Bond
“Too Close for Comfort,” Michael Bublé

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“I’ll Show You!” -Me, to Myself

August 1, 2008 at 3:52 AM (Goals, Musings) (, )

Once upon a time, I was a competitive swimmer.

One of the really nifty things about my high school was that every student was required to participate in three team sports during the school year.  As you may have guessed, my winter sport was swimming.  For as long as I could remember, I’d always loved being in the water at summer camp, and despite being a runt, the lifeguards were always impressed with how well I could swim.  When one guard finally wrote “Should look into joining a swim team” on my evaluation right before I started high school, my winter activity looked like a no-brainer.

A competitive swim team was a lot tougher than I’d imagined, like most activities I attempt.  I was used to flailing about as quickly as I could in order to get from one end of the pool to the other, laughing at the kid I’d just whomped in the race, and floating about, care-free for the remainder of the hour.  It didn’t occur to me that I’d have to swim drills, learn how to pace myself, and sweat for two hours a day, four days a week.

Long, mostly boring, story short, I adapted and improved tremendously throughout high school, taking about 17 seconds off my time in the 50-Freestyle since my freshman year and graduating as MVP.  Although I learned to appreciate that practise improved technique which improved time, I was almost completely oblivious to how great a work-out it was.  To put it eloquently, when I graduated from high school, I was jacked.  It did not occur to me that I would have to maintain an incredibly active and healthy lifestyle in order to stay in shape, especially since my metabolism wouldn’t stay in high gear forever.

Now I dance for about 10 hours every week, but practise isn’t nearly as rigorous as swimming was.  In addition to that, I’m probably about as voracious as I was when I was swimming competitively.  Granted, I’m still in very presentable shape, but relative to where I was in high school, I have gotten “out of” shape.  As my Latin dresses get smaller and smaller,  I have less and less with which to hide.

About two weeks ago, I decided I would take advantage of my fitness & recreation centre membership and start swimming in the mornings before work.  On Monday morning I woke up at 6.30, looked at my phone, muttered an obscenity and went back to sleep.  On Tuesday morning I woke up at 6.30, got out of bed, checked my E-mail, walked to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of milk, then went back to bed.  On Wednesday morning I woke up at 6.30, and thought about packing my bag.  I then remembered that I needed a swim cap in order to use the pool.  I muttered an obscenity again, knowing that I had several swim caps back at my parents’ house three hours away.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  When I woke up two hours later, I felt defeated.  Once again, I had decided to make a healthy lifestyle change, and had failed misreably.  Even when I swam on a team, I skipped the 7.00AM practises.  The cynic in me mocked my feeble attempts to regain my chiseled abs.  I recalled that my roomate had a swim cap sitting on her dresser.  Half-heartedly, I told myself that I’d ask her if I could borrow it in the mornings to swim.

Later that day, I casually asked my roomate if she’d mind lending me the cap, because I wanted to start swimming in the mornings.  Her face lit up as she asked, “Seriously?”

“Sure.  If I want to get serious about my dancing I’d better be in appropriate shape for it -”

“Oh my God: I wanted to start swimming in the mornings, too, and I have two swim caps!  Wanna go together?”

And just like that, I had a date for Friday morning with my roomate, the pool, and her bright pink silicone swim cap.

At 6.00 on Friday morning, my alarm started chirping at me.  I repressed the urge to mutter another obscenity, and reset the alarm for 6.30, swearing to myself that I’d drag my good-for-nothing posterior out of bed then.  After all, I couldn’t leave my dates hanging.  At 6.25, my roomate knocked on my door and peeked inside at the sorry excuse for a human being curled up in the fetal position on my bed.

“Still wanna do this?”

“Do you?”

“We should . . .”

She was right.  I’d spent a week failing at trying.  I got out of bed and started packing my bag.  By 6.50 we were on our way to the pool, and by 7.00 I was in fight-or-flight mode as I looked through the glass at the Olympic-sized swimming pool.  At 7.15, I dipped my big toe into the pool, like that would help me at all when I dove in, head-first to swim my first 100-free in years.  By 7.30, I was in ecstacy.  My lung capacity had gone to Hell in a handbasket, as had my stamina, and my eyes burned like they’d never burned before because I didn’t have goggles, but I was swimming again.  I was doing every stroke I knew, even the ones I’d hated in high school, and loving it.  I loved the feeling of cutting through the water, feeling my muscles burn in all the right places.  What was even sweeter was that I had actually made good on my plan.  It took me a week, but I did it.  And I would do it again.  Once I got my mom to mail me my goggles.

I received a package this week from home.  I’ll give you one guess as to what was inside.  I’ll also give you one guess as to what I’ll be up to tomorrow morning.

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