Swimming has been a part of my life since the days of eating erasers and teasing girls in elementary school, with the exception of my time in college, during which I was too busy experimenting with the party scene to make my way to a pool for some exercise. Unlike most lifelong swimmers, I never really developed a specialty stroke or event, instead going with what feels best at the time. I’ve been a backstroker, breastroker and butterflier at various junctures, but I never managed to get a feel for freestyle… until recently.
The team with which I currently swim practices in an Olympic-sized pool, so I have gotten the opportunity to workout on a 50-meter course for the majority of the year. The extended laps, coupled with the fact that I have more muscle on my frame than any other point of my life, has helped shape my body for long-distance freestyle. Mind you, I don’t want to be a distance freestyler because it involves more time spent in practice honing endurance skills and swimming the grueling longer events at competitions. I can deny it all I want, but my performance in the open water events (swimming in lakes and oceans) has forced me into accepting this as a new reality.
I love competing in the open water; it’s just that the distance events in the pool are tediously boring, firing off lap after lap (I get enough of that in practice). There is nothing finer than swimming in a cool lake on a hot summer day, and the lack of visual repetition (not the same walls to turn on or the constant black line at the bottom) is a refreshing treat. So far this summer I have competed in ten individual open water swims and I placed within the Top 3 in my age group in all of them. I was also a part of a six-man relay, which swam a 12-mile race across the breathtaking Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border. I can’t argue with these successful results and I will forge ahead with more events outside of the pool in an effort to keep improving.
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