My first session was two weeks ago, in a somewhat secluded river off from the Chesapeake Bay.
A coach was there with a paddle board and a helper in a kayak. I attended with two of my runner/tri friends and another gentleman was present – a nice small group with good support. We did some warm-ups to the various boat pilings and I was fine. Then the coach said “let’s go out to that buoy and back” and I fell apart. I made it maybe 75 yds before I started choking and coughing again. Couldn’t get my breath at.all. and thought I was officially a non-swimmer. The coach was right there and had me kick while hanging on to the paddle board (after I calmed down) for quite a bit and then I finished going to the buoy and headed back to the group. On the way back, I had the same freak outs so I rolled to my back and did elementary back strokes until I could get it under control. I just watched the clouds and focused on calming the F down. I made it back but I was beat. We did a few other little drills, some sighting practice, etc. in the shallow water but I was wiped.
On Saturday, I attended an OWS clinic with the same coach. This time we were right in the shadow of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park. We did some straight swimming but we working on sighting, cornering around buoys, and various stroke issues. I felt much better after this session and didn’t have any “issues”.
On Sunday, I was back with the same coach AGAIN (she is going to get so sick of seeing me!) – but this time we were at another, wider creek that had much more chop due to increasing winds.
This was a larger group and it was pretty much straight swimming. The coach set up a triangle course with the long side running parallel to the shore and completely stand-able with the point of the triangle further out (but I guess still stand-able in some spots due to the sand bars). I decided to just stick to the shallow side and just keep looping it. Each length was a bit over 100 yds and I was able to successfully go out and come back without standing or losing my mind. I did not have to recover even once and that is with some decent movement in the water – there were times when I lost sight of the buoys due to the waves. I was slow as molasses but I just focused on my own swim and keeping it together. I was able to successfully complete 5 loops. I count Sunday as a huge success!
I know I still have a lot of work to do but I am not quite as anxious about September now. I am also trying to remember how far I’ve come this year. I have to remember that I have only been swimming freestyle, with my head below water, since January! It’s not fair to my body to expect it to suddenly become some world-class swimmer overnight. It’s working hard and I need to respect the process!