On Swimming and Sadness

One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, talks about writing to get to truth. I sometimes wonder if you can write to create the truth you want to have. It’s sometimes easier to share the sunshine and the triumphs than the hard stuff.

The sunshine is that I went to the Cardinal Masters Swimming program this past Saturday. I’m not even sure what prompted this move anymore, except that I seem to be surrounded by swim enthusiasts. Awesome Girl is constantly filling my head with swim workout information. Running While Mommy’s Nicole went from non-swimmer to half ironwoman last summer. But more than anything, the combination of Coach Cowboy sending interesting swim workouts and Teacher Runner being able to show me how to do them has made for some pretty good fun in the pool. Being sidelined from running has made me re-evaluate my goals for this year and Trying Different Stuff has skyrocketed to the top of the list (more on this later). A Masters Swimming group certainly fits under Trying Different Stuff.

When I received the standard email from the swim coach [We’ll teach anyone in the Wesleyan community how to swim!!] instead of deleting it, I emailed back and asked if they could help someone who knows how to swim learn to swim better. He said sure, but why not try the masters group. A few emails later and I had plans for Saturday morning at 6:45am.

I am willing to undertake these adventures alone, but I far prefer having company so I started recruitment efforts. I got one solid commitment from Ms. Fixit, a friend I really like but don’t see much. We ran a half marathon together a couple of years ago and she’s a great swimmer. We met the coach in the gym lobby and headed down to the pool:


First impressions? The pool is really deep! And humungous! And beautiful! And deep, did I mention that? Yes, I have taught at this college for almost 13 years and never once been to the pool. The coach was nice and asked about our swim history. I said mine was very short: I took swimming lessons in elementary school and learned how to swim. That’s the end of the story. Ok, I’ve also been swimming a few times when managing a running injury, but that is truly the end of the story.

While we were getting oriented, Mr. Snarky Girl showed up! Snarky Girl really does not like to swim and she’s sent him in her place before, but it was still a great surprise. So, Ms. Fixit, Mr. Snarky Girl and I formed our own little newbie group. Thank goodness, because then the coach handed out a paper with the workout on it:


Not only is it unlikely I can do that, I can’t even read that. I did figure out how to stick the paper to the side of the pool, a really cool trick all the real swimmers seemed to know. The coach must have thought I was a total goofball as I asked over and over again, wait, how many times back and forth is that? Or, wait, you mean we are kicking without a kickboard? Won’t we sink? But, with a good deal of patience and a lot of guidance, we got through it. What did I actually do?

450 freestyle
50 kick

2×50 25 easy/25fast
2×100 mostly freestyle but throw in breaststroke or backstroke occasionally
3×150 with pull buoy, 1 and 3 faster

150 build
50 easy
100 fast
50 easy
75 just survive at this point
50 easy
25 sprint
50 easy

8×25 odds kick, evens swim

100 cool down

total: 2100

How was it? Pretty fun actually. I’m going back on Tuesday and I’m going to try hard to drag Teacher Runner with me.


The sad part? I’m still not running. It’s been two months now. I wonder if I will even remember how to run. I wonder if it will feel like starting from zero, despite my best efforts to stay in shape in other ways. I wonder if a year from now I’ll be a great swimmer, but still not running. Going to the masters group was fun, but it felt like one more piece of acknowledgement that this injury is taking a long time. I’ve been a little more active the past few days and probably as a result, I’m getting those twinge-y feelings in my hip again. It’s hard to stay upbeat. In other news, Awesome Girl did a charity bike ride in honor of a sub 30 member who is fighting cancer and Newbie Runner’s mother-in-law passed away Saturday morning. It was a weekend of carrying on with a bit of a heavy heart.



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3 Responses to On Swimming and Sadness

  1. I love this post.

    I wish I could find the motivation to get back to the pool regularly. I am guessing it will happen once I am registered for the first sprint.

    You are already a great swimmer and getting better with every visit to the pool. Master’s will be good for you.

    I do think you will be running sooner than year and think it may even be sooner than you think. I am so happy to have this front row seat to all your accomplishments. Every day I get to talk to you is a gift.

    I will say a pray for Newbie Runner’s MIL and her family.

  2. Go Prof. BadA$$ !!

    Swimming helps with running. And is the best when running is off for a bit.
    Carry a ziploc baggie with you in your pool bag. And some of that mounting putty if you want to stick to the side of the pool. Most coaches here bring a whiteboard to write workouts, but when I carry my own I put it in a ziploc baggie and put it under my water bottle.

  3. I’m so glad this post showed up on bloglovin’, finally!

    I’m impressed that you’re getting into swimming. It scares the shit out of me, but it will make you SO strong and help you come back to running in great shape. I giggled at the “sticking the paper to the poolside” thing. I had no idea that was a thing! Keep swimming; you’ll be back to running before you know it! In the grand scheme of things – running as a lifetime sport – 2 months is nothing!

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