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Swimming For Your Life

When I was about 4 or 5 there was a commercial running on television. I remember it as a commercial for the Olympics which would have made it the 1972 Olympics. (When I realized today which Olympics it was it shook me up a little. Putting our memories in a larger context can be strange.) This commercial featured slow motion footage of a swimmer doing the butterfly. I couldn't find the commercial online anywhere and knowing how popular Mark Spitz was at the time it could have been a commercial for anything featuring him.

Anyway, what I'm leading up to is this was the year I was going to get to take swimming lessons at the YMCA. I remember watching those commercials intently. I took in every detail and memorized the movement. When I finally got into the pool with my class and new swimming teacher, I announced to the teacher that I could swim. The teacher asked me to demonstrate so I made a valiant attempt at the butterfly. If anyone has ever done the butterfly they know it is a rather brutal swim stroke that taxes most everyone let alone a 4-year-old kid who can't actually swim. So I sunk.

I remember being under the water, still trying to butterfly, thinking, "hmm, this isn't going the way I thought it would." The teacher pulled me up, placed me with the rest of the class and proceeded with the lesson. I didn't say anything about what I had just done or cry or even be afraid. Actually I wasn't afraid at all. Even after that. It seems odd. We'll not explore it...

I ended up being a very good swimmer and have spent most of my life in the pool. I grew up with pools in the backyard and even swam on a swim team in high school.

I haven't swum in a few years. You don't really want to prance around in a bathing suit when you are overweight and since I don't have a pool anymore I have to swim in *gasp* public pools.

Now I have lousy knees. I am fairly young but with "really bad" arthritis, no cartilage and a torn meniscus, I'm finding my workout routine very painful. My doctor said I should swim. I wonder why that never occurred to me! So I joined a health club that has a nice pool (as well as swimming coaches).

It was important to me that I get a really good workout so I researched swimming workouts and swimming drills. I found a core workout from a tri-athlete that looked pretty good. I knew the tri-athlete was likely at a different fitness level than me (said tongue-in-cheek!) but I figured I could get through it if I went much slower and took breaks. Also I figured that even if I didn't finish it I would still get a great workout which was the goal. So I wrote out this workout (in giant letters so I could read it without my glasses) and slipped it into a plastic sandwich bag (so it could get wet) and trooped over to the pool early this morning.

As soon as I set off I felt it. By the time I was halfway across the pool I thought I might be having an asthma attack and then realized I was just breathless because I was exerted already! I powered through and on the return lap I realized I wasn't even going to finish the warm up. I was just repeating history 40 years later! Actually that first swimming lesson was pretty indicative of how I would run the rest of my life. I'm just not afraid to try and I'm often in over my head (figuratively and literally).

Some things never change. But I do believe that when you work out, go big and fail big. No one is looking.



I like to imagine that I'm an aerodynamically symphony of movement when I'm in the pool. I'm sure there is video and personal testimony to contradict this belief.

She's a beauty.