Friday, May 22, 2015


Serendipity noun. the occurrence or development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Call it what you will...
I was suppose to be in court the last two weeks; the culmination of a court case that had dragged on for 7 years. Twice already, in other years, I had been told to clear my calendar to go to court only to have the case continued (in legal speak I guess it's called a continuance). Each time I had to clear my calendar, move my work days to the rest of the month and cancel anything else on the schedule. Last year it happened in August... totally screwed with my State Fair plans, only to be told... psych, never mind, we're not going to court until next year. So this is next year and the case was finally to go this month. Two weeks cleared on my schedule (hello weekends at work!)

Then comes the email. The kind with lots of exclamation points and capital letters saying READ ME NOW!! After 7 years, all parties involved came to an eleventh hour settlement. After 7 years there would be no court case. I can go burn that huge box of countless depositions sitting in my office. It was over.

So now I had two whole weeks with nothing on my weekday schedule. The kids are still in school. I decided to learn to swim.

No one ever taught me how to swim. Growing up, my friends either went to the Riviera Club or the Knights of Columbus to swim in the summertime but my family didn't belong to either so we rarely went to a pool. I spent several years in my teens as a Girl Scout camp aide so I started splashing around in the pool there and accomplished something between a dog paddle and a crawl that kept me afloat and allowed me to go the width of the pool which was the requirement to go off the diving board.

Later, after I finished my Emergency Medicine residency, I decided I wanted to get my scuba certification. I had already dove many times with my husband but just hadn't had time to get the official certification. I could do everything on the check off list except swim 400 meters. I spent countless days by myself in the therapy pool at Kalamazoo Valley Orthopedics practicing my "swimming" before signing up for the certification class. Finally, when my class started - in January - I found that I was the only one in class. I guess not many people want to get scuba certified in January in Michigan. Anyway, it was a 6 week class. My instructor asked me the first night what I could do...ummm, about everything. He then threw me in the pool and went down the check off sheet. Finally it's time for the swim. I went maybe 100 meters then told him I couldn't do it. I was too out of breath. I didn't know how to breathe. He yelled back that it didn't matter how I covered 400 meters just as long as I did it. I backstroked it. He passed me. We were done in one night (except I had to go back and do my open water dives in March). I was done with swimming for awhile after that.

It's always been in the back of my head though... I want to know how to really swim. There was always some excuse. I used to be blind as a bat so I wore contacts. As a self taught swimmer I didn't put my head under water. Get goggles idiot. OK, now I have goggles but I had right shoulder issues. I dislocated it in 1998; after that it started getting so loose that it would dislocate about once a month. Any movement where I opened my chest or, sometimes, if I even reached for something, my shoulder would dislocate. Luckily, it was so loose that I could pop it back in but it really discouraged me from trying to swim.

2010. I got my shoulder surgically fixed. I was going to swim now... but first I had 6 months of physical therapy so the shoulder could move.Then, it was always next month, next summer, next year... until NOW.

I had two "free" weeks. I was going  to really swim. I got a YMCA membership and committed to private swim lessons. I got a really nice college student named Hannah to teach me.

Dying whale. That was what I felt like on day one. I imagine I looked and sounded like one too. I want to be like all the other lap swimmers - swimming effortless, quietly gliding through the water lap after lap. Instead, there I was, thrashing around loudly gasping for air with every breath and clinging to the edge of the pool hyperventilating after every 25 meter lap.

I got introduced to a kickboard. I was told to inhale with my mouth and blow out my nose. Day three, I got introduced to a pull buoy - a little foam block to stick between your legs so you can concentrate on your breathing and your arms. Pull buoys made a world of difference. For once I could concentrate on my breathing and not worry about kicking my legs wildly to stay afloat. I stopped hyperventilating.

There's so much I've learned in two weeks. So much to think about when you swim! Breathe to the side, look over behind your shoulder, keep your head and ear in the water, reach with your arms, keep your fingers together. Now head in the water, really put your head down. Two strokes with your arms, kick with your legs... little kicks, flap at the ankles and break the water, keep your knees together, butt up at the surface, little kicks, little kicks... remember to slowly exhale. Head down, head down. Brush your arm down through the water so your thumb touches your leg. Now turn your head to the other side to breathe... keep your ear in the water!

I think I've made progress. 30 minutes of swimming totally wipes me out though. Next week it's back to work, the kids have their last week of school, and I'm suppose to get some swims in on my own. After that, Hannah's going to have me for two more lessons and then it will be up to me to continue.

So what's the minimum swim distance for a sprint triathlon? Gotta have goals ya know!

1 comment:

  1. Aha!! I knew you had an ulterior motive! Are you going to learn to bike next, IronWoman??