swimming (or, trying not to drown myself)

This morning, I went lap swimming for the first time in six years. I tried to go on Tuesday, but the lifeguard was late, and I had to get to work. I was too tired/busy to go on Wednesday, and I knew that if I didn’t go today, it would be that much harder to get up and out of the apartment tomorrow morning.

When I arrived, lap swimming had been open for nearly 20 minutes already, and all but the one lane with the stairs were full. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing flip turns on my first day back, so I didn’t mind not having the wall on that end of the pool. I deposited my stuff on a bench near the stairs, and boldly stepped into the water, which was cool but not as frigid as I feared.

I dunked myself to wet down my hair, and then pulled on my goggles, making sure that I emptied as much water from them as I could. Then, I launched myself in to a freestyle stroke.

And floundered.

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike, but apparently, you can forget how to breathe when swimming. I could feel my lungs constricting as I panicked, and I quickly put my feet down and held my head above the water.

Thinking it was just a fluke, I tried again, with similar results. Resolved to do at least a lap before giving up entirely, I set off again with a modified breast stroke that left my mouth above the water so I could breathe normally.

It took me a lap and a half before I was willing to try freestyle again. Maybe it was because I’d gotten more comfortable with being in the water and my lizard brain calmed down, but I was much more successful after that point. I did a few more laps, pausing to catch my breath at the end of each length.

It’s a start. When I was at my peak swimming, I could freestyle a mile, pausing only infrequently. I know it will take me some time to get back to that condition, but I’m excited to do it. Swimming is by far my favorite athletic activity, but because I’ve been uncomfortable displaying my body in a swim suit, I’ve let myself make excuses.

No more excuses. I’m ready to get back in the pool.

2 thoughts on “swimming (or, trying not to drown myself)”

  1. I’ve never been a strong swimmer. But when I went swimming recently (for the first time in many years, and in a very calm pool) I had the same panicky-gasping-for-breath experience. Kind of glad to hear that I’m not the only one that happens to. And glad to hear that I might be able to work past it! Good luck with your next swim!!!

  2. I swam recreational-ly/competitively as a kid and loved it, even though I was always at the back of the pack in races and ribbons. Something about hearing the water splash all around your head, the rhythm of the strokes, and not sweating were oddly magical. I’d love to get back into the pool too. Thanks for the inspiration!

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