Yesterday I hopped in the pool for a workout. It felt so good to be moving through the water. Swimming has always felt so powerful for me, unlike running, which I usually feel like a lumbering oaf. I think I've improved in running, but swimming is still where I feel at home.
My workout consisted of 1.5 kilometres, which makes me laugh because my warm-ups used to be about that long when I was competing in swimming. It felt good with a lot of kick and some "pull," which in swimming lingo means arms only swimming. I borrowed a kick board from the lifeguard and the majority of my workout became kicking. I don't know why, but kicking has always been my strong suit and I've always enjoyed it the most. maybe it's because I can hear my feet and feel how fast I'm going all at once? Either way, it's funny to see how one can fall back into old habits. I'll have to make an effort next time to focus on full stroke swimming and more pull because that is what will get me through the triathlon. My legs will need to be good to go for the bike and the run.
The one thing that did change was how often I breathed. When I used to compete, it was really easy for me to breathe every second stroke which is not conducive to going fast. This is probably why I was a sprinter because I could just keep my head down and breathe when I got to the wall. When I raced the fifty metres, I tried to breathe as little as possible and often got to the wall only breathing maybe three times. My every second stroke breathing habit was probably one of my biggest faults and coaches of all varieties tried to change it. I continued to be a one sided breather, but eventually managed to breathe every four strokes for the most part.
Since getting back into the water, it's been really easy to slip back into my over breathing. However, yesterday I forgot my cap and every time I turned my head to breathe, water sloshed into my ear. This was a very uncomfortable sensation and it forced me to breathe every four strokes instead of every two. Wy didn't we try this before? :) When I start training for the triathlon at a more competitive level, I'm going to leave my cap at home in order to force myself to have a more effective breathing pattern. That way, when I get my butt on that 2016 Paralympic team, I will have disposed of one of my bad habits that could potentially have made me less competitive.
Speaking of the Paralympics: have you been watching? I have to admit, I'm pretty riveted. I have little moments where I wish so badly I was there. This morning I looked up the heats for the women's S11-the classification I used to swim in-qualifying times and was shocked to see that I wouldn't have had to swim a personal best time to qualify. The slowest woman swims about a 1 minute .28 second 100 metre freestyle and I used to swim faster than that in practice. Of course the current world record holder from Italy goes a 1.08 with a few mila seconds added on to that, so I may have been out of the medal race, but I could have qualified. Also, who knows how much I could have improved. Maybe I would have been closer to that gold medal position. That said, hindsight's 20/20 and I hated the 100 free anyway. Plus, I retired for a reason. No point in thinking what could have been. I have new and exciting things to focus on...right?
I've talked to a few other retired athletes that I know and they are having a hard time too. Apparently, even one athlete who retired in 2004 is finding these Games particularly difficult. I think it's because London is doing such a great job with the Games. The atmosphere is just fantastic. For me, being so close makes it harder too.
Regardless of whether I could have qualified or not, I retired and that is that. I have four years to get ready for 2016 and these Games is great fuel for that fire.