The Zen of swimming

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

If I were to imagine an ideal scenario for swimming laps, it would look a lot like living in the house above and just walking outside to go get my laps in. I would love to have a lane to myself in a quiet place with gorgeous surroundings. Alas, for now I must join the huddled masses sharing lanes and being pushed about by other people’s wakes, gulping chlorinated water from time to time.

Even with a crowded pool I’m remembering how good it feels to swim. When I was younger and swimming on a Summer team it was always about length and time. I swam a 50-free in about :28 – :30 sec at my best. No record breaking time by any means but not bad for a Summer swimmer.

Now that I’m not looking at swimming competitively I can focus on just relaxing and enjoying the swim. It’s nice to just turn your brain off a bit and get into the rhythm of it. When I first got going I found myself wanting to push myself to go fast but then I just relaxed and focused on breathing. When I was younger yoga wasn’t anywhere near as mainstream as it is now so I didn’t have it as a frame of reference at the time, but swimming reminds me a lot of doing yoga. In many ways it’s even easier to turn your brain off because you can’t see or hear a whole lot. You’re also forced to get your breathing under control.

This week I was able to complete the first week of training of 700 yards per swim pretty easily. I have a feeling it will get a bit harder from here on out but I do find it is easier when you just take it slow. You still feel amazing when you’re done without pushing it.



flip turn

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

One thing I need to practice more today is my flip turn. It’s something I never learned to do properly myself even though I taught a lot of kids how to do them when I coached swim team back in the day.

This is one of those things that can feel a little ridiculous as an adult to practice in a pool full of people but that I know will help me conserve a lot more energy as I work up to a mile. There are lots of great videos on YouTube that show you how. The one above is one I found on The Swim Channel page through There are also a number of other great tips there like how to get your breathing down for freestyle. That’s something I’m struggling with a little bit getting started but overall I’m not doing too bad for being at such high altitude here in Boulder.

building endurance

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been getting a lot of tips here and there on how to start building up endurance for longer swims. Probably the best resource I’ve found is a 0-1650 program from Ruth Kazez that’s similar to the Couch-to-5K running program. She also has a number of good links to helping learn how to conserve energy, how to do flip turns and other swim exercises.

WEEK one (Three Days):
4 x 100 yards (or meters)…rest for 12 breaths between 100s
4 x 50 yards…rest for 8 breaths between 50s
4 x 25 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 25s 

total: 700 yards

(Your pool is 50 meters? Just add 2 50s instead of the 25s)

WEEK two:
200 yards…rest for 12 breaths
4 x 100 yards…rest for 10 breaths 
between 100s
4 x 50 yards…rest for 6 breaths 
between 50s
4 x 25 yards…rest for 4 breaths 
between 25s
total: 900 yards

WEEK three:
400 yards…rest for 12 breaths
200 yards…rest for 10 breaths
4 x 100 yards…rest for 8 breaths
between 100s
4 x 50 yards…rest for 4 breaths 
between 50s
total: 1200 yards

WEEK four:
600 yards…rest for 10 breaths
300 yards…rest for 8 breaths
4 x 100 yards…rest for 6 breaths between 100s
4 x 50 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 50s
total: 1500 yards

WEEK five:
1000 yards…rest for 8 breaths
4 x 100 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 100s
4 x 50 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 50s
total: 1600 yards

WEEK six (days 1 and 2):
1200 yards…rest for 6 breaths
3 x 100 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 100s
3 x 50 yards…rest for 4 breaths between 50s

(day 3) 
1650 yards straight (equals 1500 meters) 
total: 1650 yards!

today will be my first day in the pool! it’s supposed to get up in the 90s this afternoon, so it’s a good day to start!

swimming a mile

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

I equate Summer with swimming. I grew up in the pool at my grandparents house and then went on to lifeguard and coach swim team in the Summers when I was in high school & college back Home in SC. It was about the only way you could escape the heat.

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent much time at a pool. I was living in cities and it was pretty expensive and inconvenient to find a good place to swim. I’ve also never really liked the smell of indoor pools all that much. Luckily in Boulder, there are lots of great options for outdoor swimming in the Summer and one is only a mere 4 blocks from my house. I just got back from buying a 10-pass card for the Spruce pool. You can also just pay $6 entry for single passes.

Although swimming is nothing new for me to learn I never really learned to do distance swimming growing up. I mainly did 50 freestyle & butterfly. This Summer I want to build up to swimming a mile. I don’t have any illusions I could get up to swimming a mile in one week, this week will get me started.

Who knows, maybe I’ll go on from there to swim even longer distances. The English Channel swim is only a mere 21 miles.

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