Learning to love the pool
Like many triathletes (or aspiring ones), I have a love-hate relationship with the pool. Most of the hate stems from the fact that it is the weakest out of my three areas and it currently takes the most time out of my day when you factor in getting to the pool.
That aside, I’m realizing that I have a chance to take advantage of the swim. I’ve been swimming since a very young age and developed a pretty good stroke at a young age with the help of a cousin who was on the junior olympic swimming team and went on to swim at a D1 college. Additionally, growing up in Southern California, I’m very comfortable in the ocean and have familiarity with open water swimming.
I realized that my biggest weakness in the pool is simply my current level of fitness and that if I could simply improve my endurance in the pool, I’d have no problem posting a good time in the swim.
I’ve started to hit the pool pretty hard over the last week and I’m realizing that swim training is a beautiful thing. You still get your heart pumping, there’s no impact on your legs, and your upper body gets to experience what your legs have been feeling on all those runs and rides. Additionally, because swimming is basically a zero impact activity, it’s not difficult to swim on back-to-back days if you need to do that in order for your schedule to work.
I know that many people new to the sport of triathlon start their swim training much later than their running and cycling. Don’t! I did the same thing last time and this was a huge mistake. I was already at the point where I could cycle 40-50 miles at a decent pace and run 10+ by the time I hit the pool and I was so discouraged by being out of breath after only a few laps that I avoided going back and made up reasons to skip my swims.
It sounds simplistic, but this sport truly is about performance in three different areas, and you need to progress along each of these areas alongside each other gradually. The one thing you will discover is that all of these sports are complementary and by working in each individual area, you will see quicker improvements in all the areas than if you were to simply pick one of the three to focus on.
So here’s to hitting the pool every other morning. On the bright side, at least you don’t smell like sweat when you’re finished (of course, you might want to stock up on some hair conditioner).