Saturday, April 17, 2010

Swimming a Mile

As I mentioned, this semester I took a swim class at the gym at school. This Thursday was the last time our class met, and we swam a mile for time. They had been warning us that this was coming for awhile, and helping us to build up our times.

Here is a picture of me with the instructors of swim class, Colby and Sarah Beth. This was taken after I swam the mile that I describe in this post.
PS Can you believe I am posting a picture of me in a swimsuit online? Because I can't.

In case you're not familiar, to swim a mile you should go 1650 yards. This is 33 laps, or "down and backs" -- 66 lengths of the pool. Now that I am in shape, endurance/stamina really is not my problem. I probably could swim 5 miles if I were really pressed to, in fact -- but I would be hard pressed to do it quickly. Thus, I was excited about the opportunity to do this race for time. It will be another way for me to document how I will improve at getting in shape over time (given that this is the first time I have ever swum this distance for time).

Sadly/fortunately, the ranks of our class really thinned out over the course of the semester. In fact, there were so few people on the last day that each of us got our own half a lane. I was on the outside half lane, so I didn't have a great view of everything that was going on.

Here's the rundown of the folks who were in the class: there were five swimmers. I will describe them in the order we were placed in the lanes. The cast of characters were:
  • Moi.
  • Hairy - Really nice guy who swam next to me. He swam in the faster half of the slow lane back when a bunch of people came. Named Hairy because he has been growing out his beard all semester. Doesn't he know that will slow him down by causing drag in?! (Joke)
  • New Guy - He came only for the last part of class. He is quiet and faster than I am. Pretty buff guy, but I know nothing about his personality.
  • The Situation - This guy is a complete moron just like that loser from the Jersey Shore. He is ripped, but I think his mouth/attitude/ego are even bigger than his muscles (which, admittedly are large). He talks a HUGE game about how fast he is but will often choke with muscle cramps and stop swimming. He has a huge crush on our instructor but will not admit it. I. CANNOT. STAND. THIS. GUY!!!
  • Igor - This is the dude's real name. Not too sure what to say about him other than I think he is the kind of guy who is good at things, but tries to get away with doing the minimum. He is kind of whiny when they make us do hard things in class.
The swim instructors told us to arrive early and get warmed up. I made sure to get a 200 in before class so that I was ready to go. I also stretched, which I had been sloppy about doing all semester.

When they told us to go, Hairy and I swam at the same pace for the first several laps. My flip turns are good, so I was able to keep up with him and pass him slightly on each turn. He would then swim faster than me and catch up by the end of the lane. We were even for probably the first 200-300 yards (out of 1650). Although my view was limited, I could see that New Guy and the Situation took off really fast and passed us early on. I was trying to be aggressive with my time, yes, but I also wanted to make sure I could go the whole time at a decent pace. I thought for sure the Situation would go fast but then flame out and that I would pass him at some point.

As time progressed, I could see that New Guy had lapped me twice. I also began to pull away from Hairy. My goal was to lap him. As someone who has been lapped her ENTIRE swimming career, I did want to know what that felt like to be able to lap someone else. (In case you're curious it feels great.) In fact, I ended up lapping him four times. I think what happened is that he would stop at the end of the lane to catch his breath, and the little breaks got longer and longer each lap whereas I just powered through (again, I am built for endurance but not really for speed). I could not see what the Situation was doing and -- because Igor arrived 8 minutes after the rest of us had already been going -- I had no idea Igor was even in the picture.

Around lap 10 I lost count of how many laps I had done. However, I was able to see that the New Guy lapped me twice. Because I had lost track of the number of laps I had done (and as a result, how many I had left to go), I did not know when to really give it my final push. Ideally, I would have loved to pick up the pace with about 5 laps remaining. However, I had no idea when that actually was in my part of the race. Our instructors had told us they thought it would take us between 30 and 40 minutes to finish. I calculated that if I did 1:00 laps, it would take me 33 minutes so I did not start to wonder how close to the end I was until the clock turned to 33:00. After that, though, I kept an eye for New Guy to be stopped and resting at the end of the lane. I knew that when I saw it, that was my cue to really pick up the pace and make a strong dash for the finish since I would have only two laps remaining.

When I saw he had stopped, I began to push really hard toward the finish line. I gave it what I had. When I pulled up to the finish line, I heard that someone finished in 38:41 and someone finished in 38:44. I thought the Situation beat me by 3 seconds and I was SO ANGRY at myself. When I asked "Did he really just beat me by 3 seconds?", my instructor said, "No! You beat him!" Man, did that feel great!! My final time was 38:41. This equates to 50s that were done around a 1:10 pace. So nice to beat him, even though I tried not to be a sore winner.

I was pleased with my time (although I didn't really know what to expect), and was certainly happy that I had beaten the Situation. However, I was slightly annoyed at myself because I had some gas left in the tank and I wish I would have been able to turn up the effort a few laps earlier. Oh well, next time I will keep better track.

This semester in swim class, I had three main goals.
  1. I wanted to improve my stroke. I think I can consider this a success. My freestyle is probably a bit better. They taught me to correctly do the backstroke, which I think is now much better than when I started. I can kind of do the fly, which is more than I can say at the beginning of the class. I still suck at (and despise) the breaststroke though. Overall, though, I say this goal was met.
  2. I wanted to get faster. I do not have any data to confirm that this goal was met, but I do think it was. Plenty of room for improvement on this goal though.
  3. I wanted to be able to get out of the pool on the blocks. Even in high school, I used to have to use the ladder to get out of the pool. I wanted to not have to rely on this anymore. I can now easily get out of the pool on the blocks. This feels great to have accomplished. GUN SHOW BABY!!
Overall I would give myself a B+ or A- for my effort in this class. All of my absences were "excused" (not that they took attendance, but I didn't go if I was legitimately sick, out of town for business, etc. and always went when I could). I could have improved my attitude toward the relays, but overall I really did give my best in 95% of all cases, trying to do what they asked even when I was too slow or unable to.

I hear they are offering this class again in the summer. I am excited to take it. I would love to be able to swim the mile in 35 minutes next time. Thanks Sarah Beth and Colby for a great class, and thank you Situation for allowing me to feel the thrill of victory!!! Better luck next time.

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