WOT: Swimming

Monday, October 31, 2016

For today's Working On Things (and partly Do Something...), I'd like to do what I always do: tell the internet I'm going to do something I don't want to do, and because I've done that, I have to do the thing I really don't want to do.

Most people will think what I am terrified of doing is just plain silly.  Here it is: I want to swim.  For exercise.

Background: I used to be a total fish when I was really little.  I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and would spend all summer long at our little neighborhood pool pretending I was Ariel dragging Eric back to shore.  But I also had really bad ears.  While swimming, I'd always have to wear silly puddy in my ears starting at a very young age.  After a few ear surgeries, I not only had to wear my specially-made ear plugs in the pool, but I also had to wear them in the shower.  Seriously.  And even while swimming, I had to keep my head above water for a good while.  So starting at about 7 years old, I began to dislike swimming more and more.  As a teen, it grew into a 100% "hate."  Like any teenage girl, I really hated swimsuits, and baring my (one-piece-clad) body to the whole world.  (Yep, I had my "issues" pretty early on.)  But I also hated water in general.  I'd swim with friends and family occasionally, but inside I was in agony.  To this day, I don't like being in water--it feels claustrophobic to me--nor do I delight in getting splashed.  Because of this, I am a terrible swimmer. I can basically doggy-paddle, but not much more beyond that.

In college, I thought I would start doing triathlons seeing as I was a decent runner and loved biking too.  Knowing what a terrible swimmer I was, I decided to face my fears and take a beginning swimming course at BYU.  It was four days a week.  And I hated every second of it.  I was by far the worst in the class.  My teacher took pity on me, because I was honestly trying.  Every time I tried to complete the assigned workout, I'd get a cramp in the middle of the water or just freak out, never able to quiet figure out how to breathe correctly.  I was clearly panicking each day.  For the final, we were supposed to swim a certain amount of laps using certain strokes.  Right before, my instructor pulled me aside and said, "Monica, just swim however long you can and use whatever strokes you are able to do.  I'll still give you an A."  Bless him!  So I stuck with freestyle and backstroke, and I had to pause at the end of each side of the pool.  I think I did maybe four laps.... Admittedly, I was in fantastic shape otherwise, so this wasn't an out-of-shape problem.  It was a me problem.

I have largely stayed away from any forms of swimming--exercise or recreation-wise--since then.  So that's 10 years.....

Well, back to present-day: I'm on dr.'s orders to stay away from high intensity workouts.  If you know me, that's about all I do for exercise: runs and intense strength training.  They say I can walk, maybe cycle, and definitely swim.  That's when I cried.

I am trying to get on my big-girl panties here and do what's best for my body.  Swimming is fantastic exercise!  It's something I can do the rest of my life!  Running was already wearing down my body, so who knows how much longer I could have kept that up anyway!  That's what I keep telling myself.

So I went on Amazon, and I bought myself a swimsuit.  And I tried to buy a swimsuit that would make me most-likely actually swim for exercise.  This entailed as little shaving as possible and as much coverage as I could pull off without leading to excessive over-heating.  It's this one, and I don't even care how hideous it is (however, all the 70+ year old reviewers had a lot of positive things to say about it!):

But..... I still haven't swam since my swimsuit arrived a month ago.  I just can't bring myself to do it!  My thought processes: I'd have to change in the locker room bathroom (you will not see me outside of a stall) with all of its grossness; I'd have to shower before going in; then I'd have to jump in a cold pool (ugh!); then I'd actually have to attempt to swim and breathe in said pool WITH PEOPLE ALL AROUND ME WHO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING; then I'd have to rinse off, peel off the suit, and then shower again at home.  It's too overwhelming for me!  Isn't that silly?

So, here's where you come in to play.  I hereby promise my three internet friends that I will swim this week.  I can only promise one time, and it might only include backstrokes for ten minutes.  But that's my commitment to you.  Can you hold me to it?

Also, any tips on learning how to swim without panicking and drowning as a full-fledged adult?


  1. I love swimming, but I'm not good at it. It is amazing excersize and I miss having a pool I can go to. I too hate swimsuits and the whole changing and showering thing. I always woremember my suit there and changed out in a stall or at home.

    Depending on your pool... go at a time when not pro swimmers are there. I hate open lane swimming because I was the slow one in the way of everyone else. If you can watch and see when it's least busy so you aren't overwhelmed. Also try swimming the short length, just the deep end. Then they are shorter and you can pause. One sumber I did water Zumba with a bunch of old ladies and it was fun and a great work out. Look into it! If the lap thing isn't for you find a way to work our in the pool without doing laps. Pinterest has some workouts I believe!

    Good luck! You've got this!

    1. Ash, you rock!! I would totally be down for hanging with the old ladies. They might have my same suit! Those tips are SUPER helpful too, thank you!!!!! I'll look into Pinterest too.

  2. No brilliant advice here - just wanted to commiserate in how far from fun it is to be splashed with water. 😲

    Also I agree with the tip above - find the old ladies! Once I took a scary-to-me fitness class with a bunch of grandmas, I've never had more fun or had a healthier perspective for strength of the human body. 💪

  3. We must be twins because I share your swimming past! For me, I never grew up around pools or swimming, so at the ripe age of 18 I moved to Hawaii for BYUH with no knowledge of swimming. It was embarrassing. I could only dog paddle and never wanted my feet to leave the ground of the ocean floor. I moved to BYU and took that beginner swim course too. We should have taken it together because we could have shared a lane. My instructor let me have my own lane and for my final I did a whole "down and back" lap and thought It was the closest to death I'd ever be. Likewise, it wasn't a fitness thing. It was a swim thing. I have sporadically tried to swim for fitness because I married a guy who can swim 2 miles like it's nothing, but I still get no excitement from thinking of swimming laps. And yes, paddle boards are your BFF. :)

    1. That beginning course is no joke! Paddle boards wind me. That's how bad I am!

  4. I wish you lived here in Florida, I would gladly go with you! My gyms pool has been all but empty nearly every time I've gone to swim laps. So, there wouldbt be worry of others seeing you. And theirs a deep end (6feet I think) and a shallow end that I can stand in. I think being in water you can just stand up in will help you a lot! Also, as silly as it sounds utilize flotation devices. I always grab a kick board and the other thing, (it goes between your legs when you swim so you don't have to kick, and let's you just focus on what your arms are doing). And do several laps that are just kicks or just arms.

    From a psychology standpoint, getting over fears is not an easy task, so I say if you get in and do 10 mins of backstroke, that's a win in my book! �� That would be my main advice is to just get out there and do baby steps and do a tiny bit more than what you did the previous time. You've got this!!!

    1. I so appreciate your tips!!! They really did help. I'm getting better, slowly but surely.


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