Masters swim update No. 5: It’s OK to be a beginner

This day was a success. I swim 1800 meters (farthest swim yet) and even did my first workout.

I felt steady and smooth, even with a few normal swimming challenges. My night was simple: Reach, pull. Reach, pull. Reach, pull.

Nothing phased me.

Another swimmer’s wake sending water up my nose? Reach, pull.

A swimmer kicking me in the ribs, causing me to snort water up my nose? Reach, pull.

Choking on some water from my own stroke? Reach, pull.

“Ew, there’s a bandaid down there.” Reach, pull.

“My shoulders are burning.” Reach, pull.

This is a far cry from when I started in late June. I swam 800 meters, and not once did I swim a full 50 meters.

My workout tonight:

300 warmup
300 pull
6×100 meters
4×50 meters hard
100 kick
300 swim

Two things to note:

It’s OK to be a beginner. I overheard two women, at least one a triathlete (she had faded sharpie numbers on her calves), talking about the people in the slow lane at the beginning of the session. I swim in the slow lane.

One said something to the other like, “stay out of the slow lane. They don’t even do the workouts in that lane.”

The clearly experienced triathlete: “Then why bother?”

Maybe I misheard or misinterpreted what they said and meant. Maybe I didn’t.

Why bother? Really?

I bother to learn to swim properly at age 28 because I want to become a triathlete, like you. Because I have dreams of Mile Reilly yelling, “Lindsay…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

I bother because I have to start somewhere, and the means at the beginning.

I bother to come to masters swim because the coaches have been incredibly helpful. Without their encouragement, I couldn’t have gone from zero to 1,800 meters in five swims. I can’t do this alone.

I bother because I have courage. Because I’m not going to tell myself I can’t do something because right now I don’t know how.

I don’t say this to shame these women, but to remind us all, gently, it’s OK to be a beginner.

And a note about locker rooms:

There are few things I dislike more than walking into a damp, smelly public room and seeing a naked stranger.

Truth be told, I’m glad these women (all shapes and sizes!) change in the locker room because that’s a very normal thing to do. It doesn’t matter if it makes me or anyone else uncomfortable. I actually feel the same about breastfeeding in public. You do you, no shame (but I am averting my eyes, O Lord.)

But it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it makes me. It just doesn’t matter. I look at the tile floor, grab my gear, change in the stall and get out of there.

Discomfort won’t kill us.


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