the triathlon pages

BAD MATH ~ The first swim

    I am the most nervous about the swimming portion of the triathlon. On a bike, you can coast if you get tired; and you can walk instead of run if you have to. But in the middle of a pool, you have to at least keep yourself afloat, not to mention getting to the other side.

    Like most kids, summer always brought swimming lessons for me, so I know how to swim. I was even certified as a lifeguard once (when I was a camp counselor). All the same, I don't swim very much, because it's so tiring. My asthma plays a part in this, I think, because swimming requires very regulated breathing that is different than how I usually breathe when exercising. I also find myself very tempted to hold my breath when swimming because I simply don't float well. Having air in my lungs keeps me afloat, but is (obviously) not a good way to exercise.

    With all these concerns in my mind, I arrived at the pool armed with my new goggles and ear plugs. Since I have a very specific goal (.75K), I asked the lifeguard how long the pool was, so I could figure out how many laps I'd need. "75 feet," the lifeguard replied. I then tried to perform the following calculation, relatively quickly, without scrunching up my face:

    .75K = .47 miles = 2461 feet.
    2461 feet / 75 feet = 32.8 lengths of the pool.

    Rather tricky numbers to juggle without even a pen. I ended up making a mistake somewhere, and concluding that I only needed to swim 14 lengths. (I didn't realize my error until I got home.)

    The swimming was not too bad, although I rested between most laps. I stuck to the crawl stroke because it's my fastest. When I finished swimming 14 lengths, in about 15-20 minutes, I thought that it wasn't so bad. I could practice, and be able to complete it without resting by August. Later, after I realized my calculation error, my confidence level sank. This part of the triathlon will take a lot of work, and I'm less sure I can do it.

    Equipment-wise, I was pleased to find that I had, for the first time in my life, gotten good goggles. I marveled at the visibility they afforded, and the seal that successfully kept water from my eyes. When shopping for the goggles, I chose the most expensive pair ($15.00) because they had the US Aquatic Team seal. Good choice. However, I realized that I need more things: a swim cap and nose plug. Not having them is affecting how I raise my head to breathe, and making me slower, I think. I have to raise my head on the side, then turn it so I'm facing front, before I put it back in the water. Otherwise, I get water in my nose, and my hair sticks to my face.


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