Last night at swim practice I was singled out by the instructor. I’m in a beginner class; a class which requires you to just sort of make it from one end of the pool to the other, 25 meters. No technique necessary, and sure, you can be gasping for air when you reach the other side.
I signed up for the class knowing I was a little ahead of the game simply because I can swim, but I reasoned that it’s been a decade (at least) since I swam laps, and about two decades since I swam competitively (dear God, am I really that old?), why not start at the beginning and make the effort to do it right and be efficient as possible in the water.
Lat night we were practicing kicking and side-stroke drills -- we haven’t made it to freestyle yet. While all of these drills are new to me and often uncomfortable, there are certain aspects of swimming that do come naturally to me -- like the part where you breath out through your nose underwater. During one such drill, when I reached the other side I felt someone touch my swim-capped head. Startled, I looked up to see the instructor.
“Do you mind demonstrating that drill for the class? I’m going to ask everyone to get out of the pool so that they watch you do it right.”
Uh. OK. I was immediately struck by the fear that I would experience performance anxiety -- what if I totally blow it while everyone's watching -- but put it out of my mind.
I mean really, what could I say?
The instructor announced my demonstration, and I felt like I was back in grade school. I felt even more like I was in grade school after class in the locker room when the other women joked around about me making them look bad and not needing to be in the beginner class. Whatever it's no big deal. But, without fail, my internal dialogue sounded a little more like, I’m the best swimmer, nah nah nah nah nah. Again. Grade school.
God, that was annoying.
Seriously, though. I’m going to be 29 in a few weeks, and I’ll take the little praise, the inconsequential moments of being “the best” because, let’s face it, those moments are few and far between. In that group of men and women adult athletes - most of whom are marathoners training for their first triathlons - I will never be the fastest runner. And let's face it, I will also never be the hotshot cyclist. But there’s a chance I could be the strongest swimmer. Or, at the very least, just a strong swimmer.
I also realized last night that I really like swimming -- really like in a way that could eventually become love. Yes, I know that this may very well be the after glow of playing teacher’s pet for a brief moment. Regardless, I have high hopes. Swimming and me, though, we’re just getting reacquainted. I mean, when you’re nine, you don’t know what you love. At least, I didn’t. And, while I tend to get ahead of myself when it comes to matters of the athletic heart, I’m going to try to take it slow with swimming. However, it occurs to me, now three years sick with running love, if this romance between me and swimming works out, triathlons are the obvious outlet for the threesome. I guess me and my bike are going to have to learn to get along.