this could be a problem

Someday, I would like to do a triathlon.  Before that I’ll probably need to learn to swim.

Two months ago I transferred my gym membership to the Y because they have a pool that’s more convenient than Oz.  Yesterday I actually went and used said pool.  My friend Shelbs (real name Shelby) knows how to swim so I made her meet me there and tell me what to do.

Let me preface with the fact that it’s been approximately 14 years since I got in a pool for the single purpose of swimming.  Yes, I’ve been in a pool since then.  My main reason for being in a suit and near a pool now is that the sun reflects off the water and gives a more even tan than it would if you were to just lay out in the backyard with no pool.

Shelbs and I jumped into the lap pool and stood there for about 10 minutes while I tried to get my cap on.  Thank you, Hopp family genetics, for blessing me with this ginormous cranium.  Shelbs told me that back when she was a youth pastor they stuffed an entire junior higher into a swim cap… her point being that the caps stretch and it shouldn’t be too hard for me to get mine on.  Shelbs had to hold it in place for me while I pulled and yanked until at least my hair was covered.  Whatever, eventually I got there.  Swim caps are the worst.  Mine pulls back on my forehead so bad that I look like I’m in a constant state of surprise since my eyebrows are raised so high.


Goggles (yes, I just tried to spell that “google”) were next and I don’t have as much of a problem with them.  I appreciate the general concept of the goggle, and it’s not quite the rocket science project placing them on your head that a swim cap is.

Cap and goggles in place, that’s when the swimming started.  Here’s the thing:  There is a lot of technique involved in swimming, and I possess NONE of it.  When in a pool… I can successfully not-drown while making my way from wall to wall, but that’s a lot different than actually swimming.

Shelbs tricked me a few times saying “GO!” so I’d take off and she’d just sit there underwater and watch me “swim.”  Shelbs is a good teacher.  She very nicely only pointed out only a couple things that needed correcting, and offered suggestions on how to fix it.  She told me that my legs are too far underwater and that I’m wasting too much time and energy trying to keep my head up so it looks like a dog carrying a stick back to land after fetching it from the river.  She said I need to put my chin down, which will make my legs go up, and then look more like a board floating instead of a dog fetching.  “If you put your chin down too far, and you end up swimming to the bottom of the pool, you’ve done something wrong.”  Ok, got it.

Next we grabbed a couple kick boards just to practice keeping our legs up.  Notice I say “our” but really just me, Shelbs is a good swimmer.  Funnily enough I had no problem with this exercise, could keep my legs up just fine, and would go forever and ever because my legs aren’t really a problem.  Thank you, Running, for that.  The problem, friends, are my short 7-year-old arms with tiny paddles for hands.  I need to start hanging out with my friend Tony Horton and get some upper body strength back.  Or, you know, just swim more.

After a few “laps” in the pool, Shelbs and I just stood there in the shallow end talking about boys and work until we started shivering, swam another lap, and called it good.  All in all, we did about half of the warm-up the Y had suggested on a white board for its patrons.  Success.

Fun Fact:  Removing a swim cap is not nearly as difficult as getting it on was.  Do not pull from the top.  Peel back from the front.  Hair will stay attached to head.