Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today's Swimming News

Today, I swam 19 laps in 40 minutes. But it was a lot more tiring. I was going to push it for 20, but changed my mind a quarter of the way on the first stretch. I used to not count at all, but set a time limit and just swam until the time limit was up or I had to go to the restroom, whichever came first. Things have changed since then.

I don't like counting laps. It's hard for me to keep track after lap five. After that, I'm wondering if it is six or seven, eight or nine. It feels like defeat to decide for the lower number, it feels like cheating to decide on the higher one. So I usually give it up right there. I only report the numbers that I know for sure.

There is a lot of counting to be done while swimming. I check my heart rate every five laps. I count how many strokes before taking a breath. How many breaths per stretch and per lap. How many strokes between color changes on the buoyes that separate the lanes. How many minutes for one stretch, how many for one lap. How many long breaths I take, how many short ones.

So, no wonder I lose track of how many laps I do.

Today, my heart rate stayed around 120--which is my target. Yesterday, I didn't push as hard and I kept it at 90. I usually breathe every two strokes, but I am pushing it to every four. Beginning every lap, I breathe every six for eighteen strokes. It takes me two and a half strokes between color changes on the buoyes. That is good to know, because length of stroke is important for good form. It takes me about two minutes to complete a lap. I usually breathe long breaths most of the time, but I am working on short breaths without turning my body as much to increase my speed. Today, my short breaths dominated the beginning of my set, while long breathes dominated the last five laps.

I am more interested in the numbers that indicate the quality of my swim instead of quantity. But now, I want to find out quantity, to see how close I can get to swimming a good quality mile.

I think my technique is good, but the other day a guy who gave up his lane to me asked me what kind of swim style I was using, because he had never seen it before. It's true, he probably hasn't and never will again. I learned it from my dad, who to this day is an excellent swimmer at 72 years old and loves to scuba dive, too (he dives with my sister in San Diego). It's a Hawaiian style of the crawl, and I nearly said so to the stranger kind enough to let me have my own lane. But instead, I told him I wasn't a great swimmer and I just swim. He didn't believe me and said that he'd been around swimmers all his life and it was just different. I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to get to swimming even though I felt obligated to be nice because he was so gracious to me.

Women who swim, on the other hand, I love to take the time to talk to. Most of them are older than me and a good number of them are much faster, too. They don't spend as much time in there as I do, but most of them had swam competively in high school and college and kept it up over their lifetimes. I saw Joline for the first time in a month. She's in her 80's and goes to the pool every day since her 40's, so when I don't see her, I wonder if she's okay. Joline was the first lady I met on my first visit to the pool, and always remembers me. It turns out she had to start using a walker and it is hard to navigate it around the ice and snow. But she told me that she noticed that I had lost a lot of weight. I told her she inspired me!

I'm thinking about taking a water aerobics class. Usually, the class is dominated by women of various ages and they are easy to get to know.

Tonight is my last yoga class. I learned enough to start using yoga to stretch at home. But the class is held in a dark small room and last time I was there, a string of miniature lights (the lights are turned off and the mini lights light up the room very dimly) had busted and there was broken glass left on the floor. Since yoga is done mostly barefoot and I have some neuropathy in my feet, I think that I really don't to keep taking the class.

Yesterday, I read about a local woman who started losing weight through Weight Watchers and is now competing in triathalons. The one in Hawk Island (my favorite park) is on June 1st. I don't think that I'd be ready by then but maybe in 2009. I'd have to start running and cycling, too.

Hmm. Some new possibilities. Some new goals. Some new prayer requests.

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