Swimming regularly was my New Years resolution this year. I started with one swim practice a week. After a month, I found myself wanting to go more than once. Then I met Gregor and Bob — a couple of elder swammers — at my local pool. They invited me to swim with them on Tues/Thurs and all of the sudden I was swimming twice a week. Having a concrete place and time to show up really helped me properly manage my time and allowed me to dedicate 3 hours a week to blowing off steam.
It seemed that every time we swam we met someone else that we invited to join us. Chris from ECU and Swim Sam became regulars. I began to reach out to some of my old teammates like Paul, Diana, and Dan. Not everyone can make it every time but there are always a handful ready to help you get a nice little 3,000 SCM swim practice in.
Once summer came around we got out of the pool and headed into the Chesapeake Bay. The largest estuary in America is an epic open water destination. The 23 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel makes for a perfect landmark for sighting. “To the bridge and back” is our S.O.P. though we never do it straight. Sometimes we take turns picking sets so we mix it up and get in a variety of normal things you’d do in a pool. Not having to deal with flip turns is pretty awesome, though.
Final Kick, a local triathlon club, swims a bit further down the beach on Monday nights during the summer so we started joining them. Which in turn led to meeting more people that join us on some of our swims in the Bay. Over the last 8 months I’ve made several new friends, lost weight, reduced stress, and fallen in love with swimming all over again.
I think many swammers have a weird disdain towards swimming after their career finally comes to an end. Some never touch the water ever again. I certainly can relate — it took me a long time to get back in the water even though I freaking love swimming. Part of it, in my opinion, is knowing that you’ll never be able to achieve those times ever again. Heck, you won’t even be close. And even though you may not be swimming in meets competitively you are still having to look at the pace clock while you get 3,000 meters in. Time doesn’t lie, even in practice. Swimming in open water, though, changed all that for me. It’s not about time and it’s not about turns. It’s about exercising, hanging out with your friends, and being part of nature.
The Virginia Beach Lifeguard Association (VBLA) puts on an annual Ocean Swim Series every summer. June is host to the Jack King 1 Mile Ocean Swim, July is a 3K, and August a 5K. This is where the competitive nature in each of us shines through. Every race is different due to weather, wind, and current conditions. Time doesn’t matter — it’s all about racing and accomplishment.
For those of you that haven’t been swimming, I’d like to suggest that you try adding just one swim practice a week into your schedule. Make it a concrete day and time. Talk to the other people swimming — reach out and make a friend. And, most importantly, find some open water. Open water is a entirely different beast and it is oh so awesome.
If you don’t believe me, ask Rebecca Soni.