Last Saturday, I decided to get it over with and do my first open-water lake swim. (Previously,
I had only trained in a pool.) My expectations for the experience were pretty low. I still have
a very vivid memory of camp in fifth and sixth grade, where we were forced to swim in Hood
Canal, a body of water so cold you went instantly numb and started hyperventilating. I was
bracing myself for that level of cold, plus ooky seaweed, so I expected to not swim very well.
I arrived at the lake at 8am with my friend Shaula, and we met up with some other crazy people
who are in a local triathlon club. They proceeded to take off and leave us in their wake. Shaula
and I donned our gear and waded into the water.
At first, it was cold, but not nearly as bad as I expected. After a few minutes, it felt like a
pool, temperature-wise. The "lakeness" was also bad at first, because we had to wade out on
slippery stones, then swim through some seaweed that brushed the surface (and our bodies).
However, once we got out a little way, the seaweed descended. At that point, it was just us and
the water. The water was a bit wavy, so we'd get the occasional unexpected mouthful of water,
but conditions were okay.
And I sucked. I had used my inhaler before starting out, but once we'd swum a little
began having asthma-type breathing problems and couldn't catch my breath. A dock was nearby, so
I climbed out of the water, walked back to where we had begun, and used my inhaler again. Shaula
swam back to meet me, and we set off once more.
I never got any better. The whole time, I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I couldn't
sustain a swimming pace for very long before having to stop and dog-paddle to get enough air. It
was miserable, and I felt like I was holding up Shaula, who was very nice about it, but could
have easily swum circles around me. We ended up turning around much earlier than planned, and
swimming only a little over a quarter mile.
It was a very demoralizing experience, just when I felt I had the running and biking under
control. I question my ability to swim a half mile in a lake at all, let alone without resting.
Now I'm afraid of the swimming segment.
~ * ~
I think, though, that I chose a good time to do my first lake swim. If I had done it toward the
beginning of my training, it would have been bad enough that I would have seriously considered
At this point, with some training under my belt, I know I just need to work a lot harder to get
myself up to par. I'm glad I got it out of the way, though, because I was feeling just a little
too confident in my swimming ability. I have enough time now to redouble my efforts and try to
get in some more lake swims.
~ * ~
To punish myself for the poor swim on Saturday, I pushed myself harder than ever at the pool
yesterday. My longest between rests was three laps - yesterday I swam ten laps at a time, which
half the entire distance. I did it without much trouble, but now I know that pool swimming is
very different from lake swimming so I didn't let it get to my head. My strategy now is to do a
lot of pool swimming (more often
than I used to), until I'm simply a stronger swimmer. And hopefully, that will have a positive
impact on my lake swimming. One thing I didn't do yesterday was lessen my dependence on the wall
at the end of each lap - I still used it to grab a breath or two and push off. I really need to
I also ran 2.5 miles yesterday, which makes it my first swim/run workout. I did okay, and even
added a sprint at the end of the run (something I don't usually do).
~ * ~
Equipment-wise, I found a Speedo swimsuit at Costco for $21! It retails for $46, so it was a
good bargain. It worked well yesterday when I swam in it for the first time. I also bought some
clear glasses to wear when riding my bike in the evening. The bugs can be very thick and I have
been squinting to keep them out of my eyes.
(Check my cost page and see what I've spent so far.)