My First Swim (In Six Years)

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Stop the press!

Sound the alarm!

Alert the troops!

Move that bus!

Tom Cruise!

Other loud and obnoxious phrases!

I have an urgent news message…

I went swimming.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a big freaking deal. I, Page Spicer Williams, put on an actual bathing suit that is used for exercise purposes only (that is so old I used in college), a red, white and blue swim cap, goggles that still had the stickers on it, and jumped in the pool for a swim workout.

What? You still don’t understand the magnitude of this event? Well, allow me to explain: I haven’t swam for exercise in probably six years. In fact, the last time I swam for exercise was when I dabbled in triathlons in college. The sudden addition of swimming into the mix will be explained soon (including my hip feeling the worst it ever has), but know this: I freaked out, but then I did it, and it was a success.

I arrived early enough at the gym to try and claim my own lane. When I arrived, I jumped in the shallow end and wouldn’t you know it, the creepy guy who makes comments on my running asked to share my lane with me. Great. Perfect start.

The workout was broken out into a warm up, drills, a swim workout and a cool down. I won’t lie, I was terrified. What if my swimming is as efficient as a taco trying to go upstream (go with it, it’s messy). Or would it all come back to me from my college years and I would be like, “BOOM! That just happened!” I literally had no idea, but by the looks of my puny arms I would bet it would be the former.

The first exercise of the warm up set was 200 yards freestyle. 200 yards = 8 laps. Easy shmeezy, right? I don’t know what happened, but I felt like I had an anxiety attack with my face in the water and my nostrils sucking air. Gasp! Flap! GASP! SAVE ME! There was no logic, just my heart and my heading working against me – those evil, evil things.

After I suffered through eight measly laps, I intentionally tuned out the creeper in my lane who was trying to talk to me, I pretended to stare at the clock like I was actually pacing myself and instead had to have a little pep talk with myself, “Why the hell are you freaking out? You know how to do this! It should be like riding a bike, well, not really, but you know what I mean. Get your stuff together and stop being a baby.”

With a moment of calm and a few self-slaps, I told myself we’re not in a race here. I am brand new and it is going to take time, but you’ve got this – just keep with it. With my little pep talk in hand, I decided to take the rest of the workout slow and steady and do exactly what was prescribed. Like magic, it all clicked. My mind calmed down, my arms started to remember how to reach forward in the stroke and my breathing began to sync up. By the end of the work-out, I had swam and kicked a total of 1600 yards! Granted, I had plenty of breaks in between but it was a start and something that I am proud to shout from the rooftops: I KINDA, SORT, WELL WAS IN THE POOL, FOR A FULL MILE!

There’s something invigorating about a blank canvas and a fresh start as the possibilities are endless, and hey, there’s nowhere to go but up! Thus, despite my self-induced warm up freak out, I consider my first swim in over six years a fantastic success. I’ve tried incorporating other types of cross training into my training schedules, but I always end up injuring myself, especially with lifting. But swimming seems safe and a fantastic alternative; thus, I’m going to incorporate swimming into my upcoming half marathon training and can’t wait to see what evolves.

Tell me, are you a swimmer? How did you start? Best advice for newbie swimmers?

Happy running!

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20 Responses to My First Swim (In Six Years)

  1. Meggie says:

    Ummm…I did summer swim team up until I was about 11 and then….no more. Just for fun. I’ve wanted to try it but feel like after 2 laps, I’d be exhausted and stop.

  2. J says:

    I haven’t swam in like 2 years! And when I did start swimming two years ago because I was injured and couldn’t run, I was like a fish out of water. I was gasping for air, and I hated that I couldn’t breathe when I wanted to. I feel I may be getting back into swimming this winter because I married a swimmer and he goes to the pool a lot and so I may be dragged along!

  3. Maggie says:

    I used to teach swim lessons (and was a lifeguard) so I feel like I’m a good swimmer (in terms of form, not necessarily endurance) and when the mood strikes me, I enjoy being in the pool, but sometimes it’s so much work. You need to pack your suit, cap, goggles, ear plugs, flip flops. And if it’s cold outside, you need to make sure you have a change of clothes (at the very least, clean underwear and whatever crappy workout pants and top you never wear and can just leave in your swim bag), because you can’t wear a wet suit outside, but then you also need to make sure you have shower stuff, because I don’t want to dry off and change clothes just to drive home and get wet again when I shower. Plus my hair is long and takes forever to dry … wah wah wah (those are my “my life is so hard” sarcastic crying sounds).

  4. katie says:

    I had the same experience when I started swimming! I think the “not being able to breathe whenever you want” thing = panic.

  5. monika says:

    Oooh do I smell your return to triathlons? Or is that the chlorine I smell? jk haha. omg I hate swimming. I don’t even like being in the pool and the open water is horrifying. Yet I started doing triathlons last year after I gave up (temporarily) on marathons. When I started swimming again last summer I dont think I had swam laps in 10 years. I barely made it through 5 laps at a time without stopping and it took me a week to work up to 20 laps. Good luck with your swimming! I think its a nice break on a runner’s body. And don’t forget.. those goggle indents that last into the morning are SEXY!!

  6. Beth says:

    Welcome back to swimming!! That’s a really impressive workout for your first time back in 6 years.

  7. Ally says:

    I’ve been swimming on and off since I was 5 (13 years competitive) and now swim masters to keep me in shape (and I’m doing my first sprint triathlon on Saturday, eek!). Definitely start out slow.. I just took 2 months off to prepare for my LSAT and got back in the water last night and was dragging! It will all come back to you and you’ll start feeling more comfortable. I’d definitely try out a masters program (most coaches *should* accommodate for all levels) and just keep it up! Good job!

  8. Allison says:

    Yay, swimming! A mile is a lot for your first time in the pool in 6 years! You’ll be speeding along in no time.

  9. RoseRunner says:

    IIIIIII have never swam for excersize. nevah! So how long does 1600 take? 1 hour? 3? 20 minutes? I HAVE NO idea.

    Hate the creeper on your behalf. That sucks. You probably look way too cute when you workout, your fault 😉

  10. Hannah says:

    i LOVE LOVE LOVE to swim! Its really great for strengthening your muscles and staying in shape without getting injured!

  11. Nelly says:

    Awesome on the swim! Swimming for a full mile on your first swim workout is insanely good if you ask me, haha When I was swimming a lot during my rehab from injury, the max I ever swam was 2000 meters, after that I was just too tired and ready to call it quits. I think it generally took me about 40-45 minutes to swim 2000 meters or so…So that is amazing that you lasted a full mile in your first workout!

    And what is with the creeper in the pool? Hopefully that guy gets the message and goes away – or dies.

    And sorry about the hip, hopefully it starts feeling better soon, curious to read more about it soon on your next post.

  12. Rachel says:

    i first started swimming for triathlon…and i sucked! seriously, i’d be gasping for air like my life depended on it after one lap. it was frustrating because i like to think i’m fairly fit, what with all the running…but swimming is a totally different animal! but i stuck to it and made it a priority, and wouldn’t you know after a few months (and what seemed like a million laps) i really started to enjoy my pool time. it even became my favorite leg of triathlon (ummm did i really just say that?!). happy swimming!

  13. Laura says:

    Nothing better than hanging out with a creepy guy…in a swimsuit, right? Congrats on what sounds like a great start. Hope your hip is okay.

  14. Coach Dion says:

    I’ve tried to swim from time to time, but all I ever did was swim… warm-up, drills, swim work-out, and a cool down!!! Baby you rock. I would need a coach to stand on the edge of the pool and shout at me…

    Sorry 1600 yards is only 0.91 of a mile, 1609m is a mile, sorry…

  15. Ive swam 1-3x/week for the past couple of years since I got into triathlons. Congrats on a successful first swim back. My biggest advice would be to take care of your shoulders and to progress your swimming gradually. Using theraband or some other kind of exercise band to do internal and external rotation exercise is a great way to help avoid injury in the pool.

    Another piece of advice, mix up your workouts. Have a different focus each time you get in the water, strength, speed, endurance, form, etc. This keeps it from getting boring and is always helping you to improve at some piece of the puzzle.

    If you do ever decide to get back into triathlons, I’ve found the swim workouts for triathletes book to be really helpful :)

    Sorry to hear that you hip is bothering you. Hope this cross training will help it get the rest it needs to start feeling better!

  16. Holly says:

    I swam in elementary and junior high and then didn’t swim for fitness again until 2007. I started slowly and painfully then when I had a little confidence, I joined a master’s group at my local gym (ymca). That was really what improved my swimming the most- having a coach to help with little things and the other swimmers to both encourage and push me was key to my swimming success. I’m back to swimming on my own now (we moved so I had to change gyms), but I miss the group aspect for accountability and motivation.

    I do agree it’s perfect cross training for the low impact and excellent lung development aspects. I plan to keep it up throughout this running/marathon season. :)

  17. Naomi says:

    The first 200 meters or so are always killer for me, but eventually you do find your groove and everything just comes back to you! Glad to see you’re back in the water again. I definitely love to swim – such a great overall workout for your body!

  18. Kim says:

    UMM…I am SO sad you didn’t decide to go swimming when you were in Boston! We could have had a pool/swim date!!!!! I definitely recommend getting into swimming gradually, it can be SO boring, but I personally LOVE following a black line for HOURS at a time, but that is just me! Once you can get up to say 2,500 yards without feeling like you want to die, email me and I will give you some work outs to help spice things up. I’m a big fan of “pulling” (arms only) because my lower body is over worked from running, so it gives the stems a break and it’s a killer arm/shoulder/back workout! Just be careful not to over do it because you can really hurt your shoulders, bahh! Good luck with the yoga & swimming, those are two of my favorite work outs!

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