LGN 126: Swimming 3

I just finished Swimming II tonight.

I may be a grown ass man but I’m still disappointed that there wasn’t a certificate. With the little cartoon fish on it. Also, the MyZone MZ-3 doesn’t work in the water, which is a bummer because I got worked tonight.

On to swimming III. Narrowly. 

Prerequisite: Swimming II or skill proficiency to swim unassisted on front and back at least three body lengths using arms and legs, and to submerge face in water for at least three seconds. Class emphasizes increasing endurance and independent swimming skills. Skills include rotary breathing, entering deep water safely, treading water 15 seconds; and swimming front crawl and elementary backstroke 15 yds., and back crawl five yds. without assistance or support.

That doesn’t sound too bad.

Tonight, someone asked what swimming III would be like so the instructor, who tends to roll with things, decided to give us a taste. Seems like a taste of the end of swimming III. He even whipped out a swim brick to play with. Oy gevalt. Lots of laps of things. And laps for me are a struggle. It means running out of breath, form failing, and getting exhausted. Trying not to rest before the end but forgetting how to breathe as soon as I consciously think about any other aspect of movement. Have to breathe frequently and cleanly enough to replenish. 

I’ve been told that muscular people have to work harder, especially for certain strokes. Getting better, though. Everything’s getting better. I’m just impatient. Where are my webbed digits and gills, damn it?

SAID, as Justin would say. Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. I’m not as aerobically fit as I want to be but I also regularly do strength and conditioning. Getting in the pool and trying to kick from one end to the other — 25 yards — is humbling.

When I first started this progression, I didn’t realize that swimming would be so technical. I watch a lot of YouTube videos and there’s a lot to it. I didn’t realize that all the practice I’m supposed to be doing is about building muscle memory and coordination. I also didn’t realize how different swimming endurance is from other activities.

The second Summer I interned at Apple in the Bay Area, I decided to not rent a car. I rode my bike everywhere around the valley. I rode to work and from work, usually getting home well after midnight. On the weekends I would ride from Cupertino into San Jose and explore the trails that went from San Jose and into the sticks towards the Coyote Creek trail. The longest ride was about 40 miles and then I rode back to a friend’s party and then home so that was a 50 mile day. I thought that made me fit. Then I went on a hike up in the Santa Cruz mountains with a group of friends and struggled. Different activity.

After college I moved out there to work for Apple and was introduced to Andy, who introduced to me to Bay Area mountain biking, backpacking and camping, and San Francisco residential street parking. It’s rugged, y’all. We rode twice a week on average and I never got noticeably more fit. I struggled on the same hills the same way and got wicked leg cramps on the regular. Charcoal Rd. out of Stevens Canyon destroyed me every time. A good day was a no-cramp but slow, hard grind up the steep switchbacks endemic to the area trails. The only time I saw a significant boost in mountain biking performance is when I played on a recreational coed soccer team for a season. In hindsight, it was basically HIIT. Sprint, rest. Long sprint, rest. Sprint, rest. For 75 minutes, or whatever. Our team never had enough people so we would typically play nine or eight vs eleven, and we usually had no subs. (The first game ended early when I got a calf cramp but by the end of the season I had wheels, son.)

All that to say, I guess HIIT would probably help, but I can’t think of a land-based exercise/activity that has the same demands as swimming, or attempting to swim. Maybe I can get something worked into the program at UA.

Swimming III is twice a week. I’m about to get my ass kicked. I’m looking forward to the benefits of building in-water endurance, though. That’s going to be amazing. And the deep end. Take me to the deep.

Usually, after class I stick around and practice a bit. And, of course, before I hit the jacuzzi and when no one was there to see, I legit swam and breathed (only on the right side, though) about 20 yards. The quiet victories.

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