So we’ve established in previous posts my affinity for Master’s workouts. Tonight was a prime example of my ongoing struggle. It was my first time at this particular group’s coached session. First time. Everybody is so friendly when you’re grown up – swimming in a group of adults is so pleasant compared to those swim team days.
Anyway, so there we are, warming up. The coach is nice, my lane partner is nice… I don’t understand a thing on the workout sheet. Ascend, descend, stand on your head… whatever. That’s okay. My swimming guru friend gave me some profound advice on what to do when I don’t understand things; ask somebody. This was a strangely foreign concept until he pointed it out to me…
Armed with my questions, I plunged into the pool, feeling like I could probably do this. I can do this, I encouraged myself.
Well… I wasn’t even finished with the 6 laps of kicking for a warm up when they started the real workout. How embarrassing was that… to watch everybody start without me. So I did the last lap of the first set with them, but then I was a bit overwhelmed and I absolutely started the wrong drill at the wrong time… while everybody else was behind me watching. Gah! I was almost in tears, and it wasn’t even four laps into the night!
I didn’t give up, though, much as I was feeling like death. Finally, I got on the same page as everybody else. It was such a struggle to wrestle those feelings of insufficiency and awkward shyness and just befuddlement. Why are all of these people so much faster? Why? Why am I so slow? I was about at pace with the two gentlemen in their late 50s, early 60s in the lane next to me.
… Am I too fat? But it’s going to be cold in that water! I need my body fat! What do I do?
This line of self doubt and questioning was awful, needless to say. It was hard enough to push myself to be fast without those voices in my head. I calmly had to think them away by focusing on swimming, and telling myself that I would somehow find someone to judge me on the topics of my current self loathing. Form, breathing, speed, rotation… familiar words, concepts. Straighter recovery, spearing my arm forward and believing it will bring me ahead… beautiful.
I was slowing down, though. I am exhausted. I do have a head cold. These things are my condition and play a part in this moment. I cannot blindly set them aside. It’s okay. Sometimes, you can’t do things, Bethany. Do what you can.
So I did. I didn’t make out too, too bad. I was frustrated and tired by the time we got to the last direction on the sheet of paper.
“Time Trial: Swim four laps, doing a flip in the middle of every lap, with or without fins.”
I didn’t have fins, and I wasn’t about to borrow some to fit my sasquatch feet… and I wasn’t sure I understood the instruction. The coach explained it… and it was just what it sounded like. When you get to the middle of the pool, flip and keep going. Tricky! I liked this challenge. For some reason, I totally knew I could handle that just fine. I was excited!
I watched the first heat of swimmers struggle their way through the thing, slowing down substantially throughout it. When it was my turn, I banged out those laps in 1 minute 35 seconds, comparable to my normal speed and faster than some of the faster swimmers… and without fins! Finally! Something I could do! Something I wasn’t bad at! Something – dare I say it – I enjoyed!
I left feeling like maybe, just maybe… this wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I can’t go fast, but I make a good dancing monkey! And that made me infinitely satisfied.