Getting Back in the Water

We have a common phrase in my family. When one of us simply says “I’m dry” they aren’t looking for a drink. In fact it means that whoever said it needs to get in the water and go swimming pronto. A couple weeks ago I dove back in so to speak and boy has it been an interesting journey to be actively doing laps in the pool again.

Let me give you a bit of a background story. When I broke my leg in March 2007 I left the swimming/water polo world behind me. Before that I was in the pool year round for the majority of my life. At first it was because I loved swimming but it ended up being my love for water polo that kept me going. I pretty much slept, ate and lived in the pool. Especially since I also worked there year round. After I broke my leg my senior year I never did get back in the water. Sure I jumped in and played around but to actually consistently build up my stamina again, I stayed away. Which means I never did swim with metal in my leg, which will come up later.

The pool on North Campus at the University of Michigan is just about two buildings over from my new office. It was like a calling back to the water and on orientation day I dove in. My mindset changed a bit last month when I randomly picked a day to do some laps at a local pool. I was shocked at the fact that I had a hard time doing a simple 200 yards. (25 yards = 1 pool length) Naturally I challenged myself and have been slaying that challenge for weeks now. Needless to say my workouts are increasing, a 200 is no biggie again and I can’t wait to keep making new workout cards which is on my list this weekend. I’ve been improving FAST! More importantly, I’ve been giggling and having a blast with it the whole time.

I’ve had so many thoughts, revelations and memories during my time in chlorine and I thought it would be more fun to just list my findings or facts about my time back in the water after 12 years.

  • Researching swim workouts to make my laminated cards I realized that I had known a secret language deep down all along. It was like a suppressed memory when I knew exactly what SKPS, Pull, Easy, Build, Main Sets and other fun terms were. Not to mention I still know how to count by 25… most days.
  • I can’t believe that there isn’t a fancy counter built in that will keep track of how many laps you’ve done by now. I get distracted and will easily lose count during a 200 or 300. It’s been over 12 years y’all, someone get on this!
  • To this day my Coach’s voice is in my head, especially when I’m doing something I shouldn’t. Such as taking a breath during the last stroke before I hit the wall, or when I’m doing a kick set and I’m just looking around daydreaming. (Sorry Jolly!) I can still hear him yelling “Klink, what are you doing?!” and I can’t help but start laughing. Yes, I’m the weird one laughing in the next lane over.
  • Breaststroke was always my favorite. There was always something about the specific rules with it, the awesome sound my Coach always made when I was swimming it in a meet to cheer me on and the fact that I could breathe every stroke. Even though I was told not to. 😉 Sadly, because of my back I can not finish a 50 without my back seizing up. Doesn’t stop me from doing a 25 here and there but it is a sad reality I’ve had to face.
  • I mentioned before I had metal in my leg. I don’t usually mention it much anymore as it doesn’t effect too much with my mobility. Well, I found something it effected. I am actually in much better shape than I ever was and 2-3 sizes smaller than high school. Which means I’m a whole lot stronger. I haven’t used the wall to jump out of the pool since I became bionic woman. It was awesome at first, I really don’t know my own strength. It felt like I flew out of the air and landed in that awesome superhero position when they land on the ground. I literally crouched there for a minute shocked at thinking to myself, “did that just happen?!” “I can’t believe I just did that!” Of course if I can do a running jump into the back of a tailgate that is moving this really shouldn’t shock me as much as it did. Well, it took seconds before that look left my face and the pain set in. We are talking screaming pain, almost a 10 on the scale of my threshold which is pretty high now. I think it has to do with gravity and the sudden change in pressure. I had always used a ladder or steps so it was more gradual. So, while I am totally able to jump out of the pool looking like Wonder Woman when I descend it’s not the best idea for me physically or my pain tollerance.
  • I am only swimming three times a week right now, I would love to get it to four eventually but really it depends on my schedule. I am also doing land workouts throughout the week. My friend actually has an entire fitness group that I belong to where we post selfies from our workouts. Which is a bit fun to be taking swim selfies and posting them every week. It’s also why I have so many pictures!
  • I still fight with pull buoys. We just don’t get along.
  • I’m not a kicker. Most of my muscle is in my upper body which means that kick sets take forever!
  • My cool down is usually backstroke as it was always my second favorite. Majority of my swimming is freestyle unless noted otherwise. It will NEVER BE Butterfly! Never, never, never, NEVER, NEVER FLY! I’m choosing to ignore that part of an IM as well. Still miss breaststroke…
  • I’ve been throwing in some water polo fun, such as eggbeater and heads up swimming to mix it up a bit for myself. I also bring my ball to do some dribbling up and down the lane.
  • No matter how many times I count, I can’t seem to get the same number of strokes while doing backstroke from the flags to the wall. Which means I have hit my head way more than I care to admit.
  • Back in my day we used a physical clock to time ourselves with the second hand. It took me way to long to realize that the digital clock at the back of the room was for that purpose. #oldschool
  • My goggles broke two weeks in. They have been sitting in a drawer for 12 years so am I really that surprised?!? Although I had a blast during that workout tying the ends to make it work until I was done.
  • I set my own pace. I’m not competing, I’m simply getting stronger, improving and most of all having fun.
  • I’ve been actively improving by adding a 500 to my workout each week. Although I don’t think I will ever do as many yards as I did in High School, I don’t think I want to. But we will see how many I can go for an hour workout over time.
  • That moment during my last 25 of a cool down when I take off my cap and let my hair loose while I do an underwater and a bit of porpoise is still one of my favorite feelings in the entire world. #Mermaid
  • I can still put a cap on with one hand.
  • I get more praying done in one lap than I do in an hour on land. Completely undistracted in the water.
  • I can still swim down to the bottom of the pool in the deep end without pushing off the wall or diving. #skills I used to love getting bricks from the bottom.
  • I’ve been drinking a protein shake for breakfast and a shake for lunch every day for over two months. I just hadn’t had an appetite during the day. Suddenly I want pizza and grilled cheese! Wednesday I downed a falafel sandwich and a shake in less than 10 minutes. Oh, the swimmer appetite!
  • I was talking to an old friend about what I was up to a few years ago and she nodded and then said, “But what are you doing about water?” It was a simple question that stuck with me. I wasn’t. I joke when I say that I’m a mermaid but it’s not a joke that water is actually a big key to my happiness and needs to be included in my routine. A couple of vacations a year don’t really cut it anymore.
  • My skin smells like chlorine, especially when it gets wet. It is one of my favorite scents in the world and instantly brings a smile to my face.
  • I feel at peace, sane and more like myself on days that I swim. Yes, I am exhausted and dragging myself the rest of the night. But it’s still a wonderful feeling.
  • When I am changing after my workout I look at myself in the mirror and there I am, no makeup, hair a tangled mess and yet that is the moment when I feel most beautiful and confident. It’s amazing this little piece of myself that I had forgotten for so long and it has such a huge impact on how I look, feel and think about myself.

There you have it, my thoughts, reactions and feelings that surround me these last few weeks since I’ve started swimming again. It’s been such a fun journey and I can’t wait to see where I’m at this time next month.

I am off to the Big House today to do some Football Skills & Drills and then painting my living room this weekend. Have a great weekend y’all!

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