No, no, it's not a post about Ironman, it’s about IM. As in individual medley, IM.
I’m going to do this. This year I am going to do IM. And it’s perfect timing to commit because masters swim team just started up again. Last year, I stepped up the swimming but this year I’m taking the next step. And this year I’m expecting more from myself. I’m going bigger, I will get better and I will – I repeat – I will by year’s end be doing IM.
I walked into the pool tonight absolutely thrilled. I had been waiting to swim ALL DAY. I was determined to redeem myself from the swim the night before. The swim in which I swam with someone that said “I haven’t swam in a year” and then ended up leaving me lapped. Thanks. But I’m not giving up. Oh no. Instead I’m expecting more out of myself. And that’s why I’m going to do IM.
“It’s stroke night, woo hoo!” I shouted at pool’s edge tonight even adding a little clap.
The coach looked at me in surprise. “You’re clapping for stroke night, Liz?”
Yes, yes, I am. Why ? Just 'cuz, 'cuz I really want to do IM and ‘cuz I really want to get stronger and faster in the pool and my coach says the more I lovelovelovelove swimming the better I will get. So, I LOVE SWIMMING! Did you hear that pool? I....LOVE....TO....SWIM.
After a warm-up, the IM began. You might be thinking what’s the big deal. Any idiot can swim all four strokes. But not me. You see, I just learned how to swim for real when I was 24. Sure, I had taken swim lessons as a kid but none ever included dolphin kicks, breast stroke pulls, or how to generate power on your back. And being an adult onset swimmer, I took the fast track – the accelerated course if you will to figure out how to swim freestyle in as little time as possible. Since that took about 6 years I really didn’t have much time to develop the other three strokes for IM.
But now that I’m a bit stronger and slightly faster it’s time to take it up a notch. Time to try the IM. In fact when I met with my coach a few weeks ago she suggested I really go for broke and commit to swimming 100 IM at a swim meet. I’m not so sure about that one. But one can dream and let’s just say for the sake of my dream I’m dreaming in February of doing 100 IM.
Now, you can’t show up at masters practice for the past 7 years without doing some semblance of IM. And that is why I’ve spent the past 7 years faking it with fins. It’s easy to dolphin kick with 10 feet of flippers pushing you through the water. I consider it a masters swimming surival skill, the fins, and taking them off is no way to get by. Since the rest of the team is swimming 50 back on the one minute I’m still swimming back after one minute, I prefer to keep my 10 feet of flippers snugly attached to my feet.
But not tonight. No, tonight I got one step closer to February's 100 IM. First up, 4 x 25 fly - no fins. I’m going to do it. I don’t care how ridiculous I look I am going to swim 25 fly. I have no idea how. I have no idea how to sync my legs with my arms but I don’t care. I’m going to try. I watch Chris take off, make some mental notes of what it’s supposed to look like and give it a try.
Oh dear god. Water up my nose. My feet are going one way, my arms another, and my hips – Shakira was right, hips don’t lie they just flop up and down at all the wrong times. Somehow I make it to the other end. The coach quickly approaches me. My biggest fear has come true – someone was actually watching.
He explains that there are two kicks in fly and demonstrates on deck how your hips go one way, legs another while your head does something else. Huh. I don’t get it. Probably because I am highly entertained by watching a grown man flop around on the pool deck in an effort to teach me something. Or maybe because it’s so late at night. Regardless, I nod and say “ok” and give it (what, I don’t know) a try.
I make it through the fly, the back no problem just freestyle and flip it, breaststroke….oh yeah, about that breaststroke. The last time I made a serious effort at breaststroke was when I was “courting” Chris. We courted in the swimming pool, it was love at first goggle-eyed sight. Not really. But we did meet on masters swim team and swam in the same lane. He was really slow back then, I was even slower but one thing he could do really fast was breaststroke. In an effort to keep up (code for impress him), I remember breaststroking my little knees out one night up and down the lane. That next morning I woke up with the worst pain EVER in my right inner thigh, a trip to the doctor, a prescription for Lodine and one diagnosis of pulled right abductor that made me never want to give breastroke another try.
Since then I have learned you can dolphin kick with breaststroke arms or freestyle kick with breaststroke arms. Neither is very efficient nor fast and both send your heart rate right through the roof. But because I want to do IM and want to do it right, I decide tonight I will give it a real try. I watch Chris’ feet from under water and try to make my feet do the same thing. They don’t and my arms don’t help and all of a sudden I’m scared I’m going to pull an inner thigh. I’m telling myself to let go of fear! let go of fear! But even in letting go I’m not going any faster down the lane.
The rest of practice goes by and finishes with 6 x 125 IM with an extra 25 of each of the first 3 strokes. That would be 50 fly, 25 back, 25 breast, 25 free. Twice. 50 fly. Well, I do it. And then I also do 50 back and 50 breast. I do it all. My heart it is in my mouth and by the end I want to throw up.
Practice is over and I tell Chris I can’t wait to come back and do this again. My arms are sore and I’m really tired. But I will keep trying no matter ridiculous I look or how hard it feels. I am going to do this. 100 IM, heck maybe 400 IM. Oh yes IM.