This July, I got it in my head that I wanted to add swimming to my exercise routine. For background, I hadn’t really been swimming since high school, and even then, my definition of swimming was being in a pool or body of water and not drowning. Kind of embarrassing for a girl who grew up in a beach town.
Because of some issues with my leg, running and jumping are currently not options, and I wanted some cardio. Swimming seemed like the best choice. So, I decided that by the end of the year, I would to be able to swim a mile. Today, three and a half months ahead of schedule, I did it.
The secret is in the reach.
I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I think goals are essential because:
They give you a reason to keep getting up in the morning. Think forward momentum! Sometimes, you’re having the kind of day where you’d rather stay in bed, but if you’re chasing a goal, you have something to work towards.
They’re essential for self-improvement. You want to be a more disciplined or accomplished person? Start with goals.
They show you how strong you are. When you reach them, you feel awesome. You feel like you can handle anything life throws out you (and sometimes it throws a lot – think about how people running for political office must feel when mistruths are being published about them, or when your friend or family member is sick or dying, or when you lose your job or have a fight with a friend).
How do you get there? First – saying you want to do something isn’t enough. Set a deadline. Get an action plan. And be realistic. If you’re a 38-year-old guy, you’re probably not going to make it into the NBA… especially if you haven’t played since grade school.
For the swim challenge, I decided I should practice three times per week. Thankfully, DC’s “Free Swim” program ensures that there are some stellar (did I mention FREE) aquatic centers in the city.
Then I got a coach, because as a Pilates teacher, I know that you don’t want to ingrain bad movement patterns into your muscle memory. And, I was pretty sure that my technique was fairly abysmal. Once a week, I met with the “Swim Whisperer,” an amazing swim instructor who teaches something called the Total Immersion Technique – a style that’s become a favorite of triathletes and distance swimmers. In a single session with her, my swimming improved. I’ve had six half-hour private sessions.
I worked up from one quarter to one half mile, and stayed at that distance for a while. Today, I strapped on my waterproof iPod (yep, they make ‘em!), my swim cap for long hair (they make those, too), and 36 laps later, mission accomplished!
What felt like an overwhelming day turned out to be a good one, because I accomplished something I wanted to be able to do even sooner than my own personal deadline. Plus, I officially will stop saying “I’m a bad swimmer,” because bad swimmers can’t swim a mile. Victory!