I was emailed recently by someone on a fitness discussion board about to get started swimming for fitness.
It brought me up a little short, because in terms of my goals, I am the newest of newbies. But in terms of this person's goals, okay, totally not. She wanted to know how to get started swimming. I've got the getting started part down pat, boy howdy let me tell you what!
I mentioned how I had gotten started lap swimming, commenting that at the time I only had 20 minutes to work out. I was a lunch break swimmer with very long hair. I had to get to the pool, get into my suit, swim, shower, dry my hair and get dressed again then get back to the office inside of an hour. So, really only got about twenty minutes of a swim -- thirty if it was warm enough for me to go outside with damp hair.
The reader expressed surprise that any advance could be made in that time frame. And honestly? A twenty minute swim would be way too short for me to consider now. I consider anything under an hour a shortish swim.
But to say that it did me no good would be utterly false. I made quite a bit of progress over about a year of swimming for twenty to twenty-five minutes on my lunch breaks.
I remember my first session very clearly. I wanted to see how far I could swim in the time I had. I was awkward with the crawl. Like most newbies, one length and I was out of breath. While that's often more a technique thing than a fitness thing, in my case it was both. So I decided to swim a length crawl, and come back with breast stroke, then swim a length back stroke and come back breast stroke again.
I swam 18 lengths of a 25 meter pool.
But I did progress. My goal was always getting in more lengths in that 20-25 minute range, so I would push. I would try to do multiple lengths of the crawl. I learned bilateral breathing. I remember the day I was able to get 32 lengths in during my time frame (800 meters) God, I was so excited about it, even if there was no-one I could crow to about it. Non-swimmers wouldn't get it and the "real" swimmers would think it was about right for a warm up, but nothing to get excited about.
When people talk about swimming maybe not being great for fitness, or bemoan the minuscule places where they start, I can't help but think about that. That first workout I did as an adult is smaller than my current warm-up. (Shoot, the workouts I was doing in August would be too short for me to consider much of anything now)
I think about that when my long-term goals seem scary or overwhelming, or when I compare myself to people who are where I want to be. Starting tiny doesn't mean you can't finish big.
*wrygrin* At least, I keep telling myself that.