Over the Dr. King holiday weekend, I took my son, J, swimming all three days of the long weekend. Up to recently, these swimming trips are mostly for my son's sake. He needs to exercise but does not share my love of running. Or even walking. He had a few years of swimming lessons and practice so he is good at it. If I have the choice, I would not accompany him into the pool. I can barely swim and quickly run out of breath so I can only swim a short distance. A very short distance. But if I do not swim with J, he most likely will not like the experience as much. Beside, even though I am a lousy swimmer compared to J, since we only do open swim in shallow water, should some freak accident happens, I can be of immediate help since I am already in the pool. Ideally, J's cousins should swim with him. They need the exercise, too, either to build strength or to lose weight. Unfortunately, they usually have excuses not to go and are thus unreliable partners. Oh well, father-and-son team it is then!
The first time I got into the open pool at the Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center, or Flushing pool for short, I thought to myself, "There is no way I can swim the entire pool length!" Luckily, the depth is only 3'7", so any time I felt tired I would just stand up. If I get splashed in the face or take a gulp of water, I would stand up and the discomfort would be over. I recorded the distance for my my swimming exercises as 200 meters or thereabout, based on the length of the pool (25 meters) and the number of times I "swim" from one end to the other. In reality, I always interrupt the trip across the pool, because of tiredness, water splash, water-swallowing, or one of many other factors. I definitely walked half of the time.
As a lousy swimmer, I always worry that if I do not move my arms fast I would sink quickly. Somehow this past Saturday, perhaps thanks to the serotonin or adrenaline generated from my morning 16-km (10-mile) run, I was able to experiment with swimming slowly and calmly. I was able to control my breathing and a few time almost made it across the entire 25 meters. On Sunday, even though the pool needed maintenance so we only had half an hour to swim, it was not as crowded so I had more chances to slowly swim across the entire pool length. I still felt tired afterward, but I was able to ignore interferences like water splashes from nearby swimmers. Monday I did even better, completely and calmly covered the entire 25 meters. I even soldiered on after taking a gulp of water.
Whenever I read beginner runners' declarations that they will some day run distance of x kilometers, I smile quietly. Been there, done that. I still want to do an ultra-marathon some day, something like a 60k, but that would be about it for me, as far as running. I will still try to aim for shorter finish time, like less than 2 hours for a half-marathon or sub-4 for a marathon. But how about something slightly different? Like a triathlon!
I got the idea from a co-worker I've been exchanging workout stories. He is a good swimmer and cycles often, but needs much work with running. I am a lousy swimmer, probably not that bad with cycling, and pretty confident about running. Just like a few years ago I did not think I had what it takes to run a half-marathon, never mind a full marathon, who knows how far I can swim a year or two from now? Like running events, not every triathlon involves the distance of the Ironman. There are sprint triathlons that involve short distances in swimming, cycling, and running. On TriFind.com, I even saw one that measure the effort in set amount of time, like 10 minutes of swimming, 30 minutes of cycling, and 60 minutes of running. I am sure I am far from being qualified for the swimming requirements, but I plan to work on it. Definitely not 2012, not 2013 either, but who know, 2014?! Check back in 2 years!