Friday, September 21, 2012

Swimming When You're Not Young and Skinny

I went to the gym for the first time last night.  I don't have my goggles or my cap yet but I did get my swimsuit and I gotta say, I love this swimsuit.  It was only $30!  With free shipping!  I can't remember the last time I had a swimsuit that didn't have an underwire so that was weird but I never had clevage issues because the neck comes up pretty high, so that's good.  They have different colors so I think I'm going to get at least one more swimsuit.

The last time I remember swimming laps I was in college and I was thin.  I can't remember how old I was or what weight exactly but if I had to guess I'd say I was about 24 years old and 150 pounds.  And I could swim laps, like real laps, freestyle and everything, for as long as my little heart desired.  I guess I thought you never lose that.  I was wrong.

I'm not even halfway down the pool and I'm thinking to myself, holy cow, I can't get enough oxygen when I go to take a breath to last to the next breath.  What's the deal with this?  The second thing I think is OH MY GOD THE LIFEGUARD IS GOING TO THINK I'M DROWNING!  And the very very last thing I want is the lifeguard to look at me, I just want to be invisible in the pool.  It's the only thing that someone watches you.  No one watches the treadmill walkers or the basketball players.  I hate this about swimming at the gym.  There were no lifeguards I can remember in college.  I almost didn't want to join because of it. 

I switched to breast stroke.  And I felt like a failure.  But I breast stroked in that pool for 45 minutes and I wanted to give up after 10.  I kept trying to swim freestyle but I could only go a couple of times, not even half a lane.  I'm going to keep working on this and working on not freaking out just because there's a lifeguard.

In hindsight however, I'm kind of glad I had trouble with freestyle because my eyes are burning today from the small bits that I did try to do.  Googles are a must in the pool.

Other musts:
I need a freaking coverup.  The towels are very small and I don't like walking from the locker room around the first pool to the big pool trying to hid my waist with a tiny hand towel.

I need shower shoes.  I don't think I have to go into details but the showers stay wet all the time and it doesn't feel right to just stand in that stuff.

I need a change of clothes that aren't yoga pants. It's very hard to put on clothes when you are slightly wet and standing on a wet floor especially when you are dealing with 8% spandex..

I need a better gym bag than one those fold up totes you use for shopping.  And I need a lock so I can put my stuff in a locker.

I need shampoo and A COMB.  Duh.

I think once I get past my insecurities I'll like swimming more.  It was my first time and I was already nervous and then I felt really let down by my body.  I felt very strong after swimming, I feel like I hold in my stomach when I swim naturally so my stomach felt stronger.  I also realized they have floaty things so you can use them to practice kicking or leg things to practice arm strokes.  I frog kick when I breast stroke and I got very sore, it would have been great to use the floaty thing to do regular kicks across the pool to change it up.  I also think I'll really like water aerobics.  When we get back from vacation I'm going to figure out the schedule so I can try that out. 

Also when you are swimming you are really alone with your thoughts.  When I work out I always have music or television, sometimes both, I used to read sometimes too, and when you swim you don't get any of that.  If I'd stop counting my strokes I could really use that time to think about things, besides, you know, not looking like I'm drowning.


  1. Hi Lori, glad to hear you are back in the pool. Next time will be so much easier. I'm around 220lbs and I try and swim 2 or 3 times a week at my local pool (love the low impact exercise at this weight!), and it is such a useful time to clear your mind and have a good think. Having said that, I'm contemplating getting an underwater MP3 player or waterproof shuffle, as a fast music beat really helps spur you on. Looking forward to hearing how you get on.

  2. Do you swim freestyle? I feel like I'm doing it wrong but I had lessons in college so that can't be it, still I've been consulting google and you tube for some pointers. Aunt Flo has caught me so I'm a bit behind now. It might be after our vacation until I'm back in the pool.

  3. It sounds like you did wonderfully to last 45 minutes! And it's something you will be able to see actual improvement with satisfaction--unlike the elliptical or treadmill where the only way you know you're doing better is because the heart rate or rpm rate goes up. You're right about a decent gym bag and lock--it's so much easier to have stuff that just belongs to the bag so you don't have to repack it all the time. :-) And just think how gorgeous your arms will be by spring when the sleeves come off!

    1. Thanks Nancy. I am excited to see improvement and I agree, I think it will be more noticeable than the treadmill.

  4. Not freestyle - I've never got the breathing right so I don't feel comfortable doing lengths of freestyle (nor am I fit enough!).I do breaststroke, three lengths at a time followed by a length of back crawl (where I may or may not use my arms) as this gives my back and neck a rest from breaststroke.
    No women in my pool (non under 30 years old) swim freestyle really, partly because it is kind of antisocial in a small pool, partly because it is taxing I think. What about your pool?

    Enjoy your vacation!

    1. That's fascinating. When I was there it was mostly guys. One lady, older, who looked like she was swimming freestyle. I feel like when we toured the pool it was all older women and they were all freestyle. I'm going to pay extra attention next time. I felt like the fat outcast unable to freestyle. My usual self conscious inner speak. I need to go to your pool!

  5. Following up on this, I saw the most amazing snorkel today at the pool, used by a guy in his 50s, and it was like a front snorkel, clipped to his goggles between his eyes. Looked kind of odd, but he could do freestyle without having to come up for breaths, no neck strain etc. I did some digging and they are listed on Amazon here

    I think some pools ban snorkels (at least in the UK) but mine doesn't and I think I'm going to give this a go - clearly I will have to wait for a pool with no one in it to give it a go at first!

    1. Oh geez, I look silly enough without giving that a whirl. Let me know how it turns out. ;-) Boys, they can try anything without feeling stupid.