My First Triathlon Swim Lesson!

Its a beginner level class for those who either can’t swim, aren’t comfortable in the water or just haven’t swam in any way requiring endurance.  First off, let me just say our instructor was wonderful!  She was very encouraging and not afraid to give constructive criticism/advice on what we needed to work on.  She also worked us!!  She had us use a couple different things to aid in our technique (paddle board, a dumb bell shaped wedge you hold between your legs).  Both give you an “assist” in the water.   The wedge allows you to concentrate on your arm movement – I liked that one a lot, since it gave me “help” and allowed me to concentrate on my arm movement and rotary breathing without trying to coordinate how I should be kicking (flutter kick btw).

She had us swim a  half length and back with one of each.  Swim with both aides and then with none.  Then we did one full length.  At the end, she had us swim with just the paddle board, 6 half lengths of the pool.  Even though the class was only 40 minutes in length, I was feeling the effort in my shoulders and calves (I think I may be pointing my toes too much).  We worked on our flutter kicks, crawl stroke and rotary breathing (three strokes, then breath as your bringing your arm up out of the water.  Three more strokes, breath on the other side as your arm comes out of the water).

I think I would have done a bit better, had I made the time to go out and buy my earplugs and goggles – not making the time to do that is my own fault.  I’m also investing in a proper fitness swimsuit.  I’m not bosomy by any stretch of the imagination, but I can see why the full front coverage would be more comfortable in the water (as in not having to constantly adjust the top part of my suit).

While I can swim, I am not terribly comfortable in the water and thus, not a strong swimmer.  Ever since childhood, I have been plagued by ear/hearing problems.  As a child I suffered numerous ear infections, in addition to having a progressive form of hearing loss.   I’ve had tubes in my ears and surgeries to remove scarring (which impacted my hearing) and to repair a perforated right eardrum (from the tube in that ear).

So, as a child swimming meant “Don’t get water in your ears!”  I still have to use earplugs.  Even with the earplugs,  I developed the habit of swimming keeping my head above the water (Um…maybe because I often “forgot” my earplugs).  I can swim under water with earplugs in, but having not learned proper breathing technique  for swimming, I can’t for very long.  Also, in some situations, I find it very hard to relax enough to swim under water or swim with my face in the water (snorkeling especially).  So, while I’m not afraid of the water, I want to become more than a “Lanai pool swimmer.”

This past Tuesday, I walked into the lesson, preoccupied with the thoughts that everyone would notice how I didn’t belong in the pool.  That people I know, would be laughing at me or concerned about my physical ability to do this.  I walked out, realizing that instead of mocking me…those that knew me, were happy I was trying something new. I also left the lesson in two frames of mind – annoyed I had so much to work on and thrilled (Ok, and a bit scared) that I’m actually attempting something so outside my comfort zone. I have to get over thinking of myself as un-athletic. Instead, I need to focus on BEING athletic in the “being fit” sense of the term.  Being athletic isn’t about medals or personal bests…its about paying attention to how the physical is tied to the mental and the spiritual.

And sometimes, its just about getting in the pool.


13 thoughts on “My First Triathlon Swim Lesson!

  1. Hi, i am interested in doing a triathlon, but with my hearing loss (2 hearing aids), I have no clue how to begin to think about competing in a race?

  2. Renee, a friend of mine also wears hearing aids in her ears and is competing in the Iron Girl. I think she can swim with them, I’ll ask her and get back to you!

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review « See Sahm Run

  4. Thank you for all the help on this, doing a tri with a hearing loss. I am working on my swimming, like Sahm, I do have memories of struggling a bit with the water, I am not afraid of it but but it isn’t easy. I did find several local tri’s and find working with a trainer that I am comfortable with regarding my hearing loss is a huge help. I now think it may be possible but still quite nervous how things might be different for me.

  5. Like you said just getting in the pool is sometimes the hardest part. I am presently trying to learn to breathe well during the strokes, how did you get this mastered? I tend to run out of air…

  6. I realize that I am replying to an old post but I googled “hearing aids and triathlete” and your blog came up. I wear two hearing aids and my first sprint is in less than two weeks. I would love to find out some tips. I already told the race director and I do have some hearing, w/o the aids, so I’ll be ok. my question is about T1 and putting them in! and should I leave them on the bike when I swim? I’m a little nervous about that.

    • hi, not sure how much i can help but what I do is place the hearing aids in my glasses case, I have over the counter, non prescription googles so I can see somewhat. I place it by the pool and get it on my way to the bike. Open water would take a different strategy. Perhaps a friend can hold the case (that has the HA’s), for you so you can put them on quickly after getting out of the water. Will need a hand towel if you are still a bit wet. I guess is it a comfort thing, i feel better getting my glasses and HA’s on quickly rather than waiting until i get to the bike. Also I put a big label on the glasses case with name, phone, etc so that if someone found them, they can be returned to me. Hope this helps. Having it on your bike seems logical though. Can you mark your bike and have a secure, zipper bag of some sort so if someone takes your bike by accident, your name and contact info is easily seen. If the HA’s are in a hard case, they will be protected from bumps. Want the case to be large enough so not accidently tossed.

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