Thursday, May 23, 2013
Hi everyone! Today we have a little treat - I've switched posts with Jason of CTER! He is here today to talk about his journey with swimming as a triathlete, while I'm over at his blog. Read on for a great post!
Hello everybody, my name is Jason Bahamundi and I blog over at Cook Train Eat Race, and I am fresh off of finishing my third Ironman in the last twelve months. I want to thank Adrienne for allowing me to write for her awesome blog in this blog exchange we have done. It is an honor and a pleasure to let you know about my struggles and love of the sport of swimming.
As you know, the sport of triathlon is filled with three different activities and they occur in the following order: Swim, Bike, Run. An Ironman race consists of the following distances: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. For those of you swimmers, seeing a 2.4 mile swim may mean nothing. For those of us whose idea of swimming was doing cannon balls into the pool, that 2.4 miles is daunting. When I started my triathlon lifestyle, I jumped (literally) into the pool and swam 25 yards and I was gasping and practically throwing up. I never thought I would be able to finish my first race which consisted of 250 yards in a pool. What was I thinking? This was nuts but I kept pushing on as I had a goal of finishing that first triathlon, and so I kept getting in the pool and swimming. No formal coaching, no idea of what I was doing, but I kept on going.
I finished, just barely, that first triathlon and while I don’t remember my time for that race I can vividly remember walking in the water (remember this was a pool) and hearing my wife tell me to keep swimming or they would disqualify me. My thought then: good, then I don’t have to keep going. Since then my love/hate relationship with swimming has gone on and it has been 3 years of this back and forth, but I will not give up.
One day Karen, my wife, handed me a sheet of paper with a coach’s name on it and told me to hire her because she was tired of hearing me complain about my swimming. I figured I would get it done on my own and kept on with this routine of not knowing what I was doing. I finally got into the open water for a race and swam 500 meters in nearly 15 minutes. I was second to last getting out of the water in my age group and that was the turning point.
I hired a coach and she gave me a training plan that included pull buoys, paddles, kick boards, fist drills, one armed drills and all I thought was: SERIOUSLY! What are these things? Where are the jackknifes into the deep end and the flips? I took to my lessons and saw how much better I was getting and what was weird was that I was getting faster with less effort. I worked with my coach for nearly two years before jumping into Lake Woodlands for Ironman Texas 2012.
Wading in the water I was prepared for the mosh pit and ready to swim. The cannon went off and so did the dunking and punching and kicking and anaerobic breathing. This wasn’t the pool and following a black line for an hour or two. This was a contact sport. I managed to swim the 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes. I was elated and deflated at the same time, as I thought I would be faster.
I put that day out of my head as quickly as possible as I had 2012 Ironman Arizona coming up in 6 months. I needed to get faster and so back to the pool I went, but this time I included a lot more open water swims, which as you know is much different than the pool. On that day I swam the 2.4 mile course in 1 hour and 30 minutes. A 4-minute improvement but not what I wanted.
It was after Ironman Arizona that I chose to go in a different direction with my coach and hired another coach. It was a difficult decision but after three years with the same coach I felt it was time. The coaching change seemed to work dividends immediately as my 100 yard times improved from 2:00 per 100 yards down to the 1:40s on a consistent basis.
I felt very strong heading into the 2013 version of Ironman Texas. I have been doing yoga and working on my flexibility to keep my feet toward the top of the water. Keeping my head level in the water as well. Counting strokes and relaxing yet still being able to push the pace at the same time. I was in love with swimming.
The cannon went off and everything changed. The kicking, punching, slapping and anaerobic breathing happened again. I spent a lot of energy in the first 400 meters of this swim and finished in a disappointing 1 hour and 48 minutes. While I was nowhere near what I expected to swim at I am also motivated to get better, to get faster.
The beauty of swimming for me is that it is hard. It is not about going faster but about form. Where are you elbows? Where is your head placement? What about your feet and body alignment? Are you crossing over the mid line with your pull? So much goes into swimming that I liken it to a golf swing. There are a lot of moving parts but when they are working in conjunction, it is a thing of beauty.
Swimming may never be the sport of the three that I am best at, but it will be the one that takes the most work and provides the most gratifying rewards, which is why it will be my love. The things that come easy we don’t cherish. The things that take a lot of work are the ones that we relish. Swimming for me takes a lot and for that reason I will always look forward to working on my catch and pull (whatever those are!!!)
What Part Of Swimming Is Your Favorite?
Are You A Triathlete Still Working On Your Swim?