I joined a new swim/triathlon program last week. I’ve been going to Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy, a new facility that is working in conjunction with my existing training program, TriDot. Former Olympian and world record holder Brendan Hansen is one of the swim coaches. Just before this morning’s practice, he squeezed my arm and said, “You’re becoming one of my regulars.” Oh my goodness. I just about fainted.
I swam four times this week because I’m still resting my foot and calf. I love being in the water. I love swimming with others because I have people to chase. And I really love being pushed by someone of Brendan’s caliber. He’s definitely technical and already has made one major adjustment to my stroke. I like that. I can feel myself heading towards improvement. And it’s impossible to loaf when there’s an Olympian on deck. At AASA, there is always an Olympian on deck. If it’s not Brendan, it’s Nate O’Brien, who swam in the 2004 Olympics for Canada. And they’re not just watching. They are paying attention. They know my times even when I don’t know my times. It’s very cool.
I’m feeling such a rush right now that I think I could give up triathlon and just swim all the time. I’ve felt this way before. I just love being in the water.
As a kid, I was a really good swimmer, and I played tennis too. At some point, I had to choose between the two, and I chose tennis. I think I made the choice primarily because tennis involved more clothing – more coverage. I know that sounds ridiculous, but even as a kid, I was super self-conscious in a swim suit. Looking back, I wish I’d chosen swimming. I loved tennis, but swimming is more accessible and so good for the body. The risk of injury is low, except perhaps overuse injury, but that’s a risk with any sport.
In high school, my boarding school roommate swam. She was so elegant in the water. She had broad shoulders and a beautiful build. She also had scars from surgeries she had because of swimming, but I even thought those were beautiful. It was like she had commitment tattooed on her body. I envied her talent and her drive. I liked watching her focus on deck before her races. She would shake out her arms and legs in a way that I never would have been confident doing in a suit, and she’d prepare herself mentally. I never saw fear in her face, though I know she experienced nerves. I just saw determination and strength. She was just gorgeous to watch. Swimming is a gorgeous sport.
Swimming is also simple in some ways. You don’t have to deal with traffic. It requires very little gear. It’s peaceful in the water.
And if you’re lucky, you have an Olympian on deck. I could definitely get used to this.