Rush Hour at the Pool.

Warm up lanes at USMS Indoor Short Course Nationals.

It was tough to get out of bed today. The temperature here in Austin was 27 degrees. I know that's a walk in the park for our northern neighbors but down here our blood gets thinned out by the relentless summer heat and the plethora of peppers we eat. It was still dark outside at 6:30 am but Ben and I hopped into the car and headed out to greet the day. First stop was the school and cross country practice for Ben. A bunch of really skinny guys, bundled up from head to toe, and ready to get some road miles under their proverbial belts. I headed down the road a mile to the Rollingwood Pool which was already full of my fellow masters swimmers when I got there. 

The hardest part of swimming outdoors in the winter is making the mental commitment to drag the suit on and head out of the locker room door. Once you're moving across the deck to your lane you have become committed. The plunge into the water just seals the deal. And then, after five or ten minutes of warm up you get the relaxing feeling of dropping into something you've done so often that it's nearly automatic. There's no thought of cutting a workout short. Your focus become about matching speed with your lane mates, executing efficient flip turns and making the challenging set of intervals. There's little time to talk and when it's really cold no one wants to keep their head out of the water for very long. 

There are two dangers in any endeavor. One is that you'll find an excuse to skip a day and that will lead you down the path toward finding more and more reasons to stay under the covers and skip practice. One day you wake up and find that it's been weeks since you've been and then you deal with the feeling that you're so far behind; that your fitness level has dropped so much, that it will be impossible to get back in and get back in shape. The second danger is that of making your swim (or photography or whatever) too routine and finding one day that you are just going through the motions but your passion has left the pool. That's easier to fix. You develop new goals and you find coaches that surprise you with the creativity and fun quotients of their workouts. Maybe it's time to challenge yourself by moving up into a faster lane. Or maybe you need to switch to a different time schedule and swim with a different crew for a while. 

One thing is certain. Being good at something requires commitment and practice. Being great at something requires the first two along with a liberal dose of passion. If you don't get a tingle of excitement when you head out the door for practice (swimming or photography) you might need to re-align your focus and revisit your goals. Bottom line for both practices? Swimming and Photography should be fun. 

Gear notes: Today we did a few sets of kicking drills and we used our fins. My choice was a set of long Tyr fins. I was using Speedo Vanquisher 2 googles with reflective lenses. My swim suit was a classic jammer (just above the knees) from Speedo's Endurance line. On the pull sets I used green adult size StrokeMaker hand paddles, modified by removing the wrist band and adding an extra finger band. 


Howard (72) said...

I was right there with you, for a bit anyways: 1. hard to get out of bed,... check 2. dark at 6.30... check 3. cold,...check (23 for your 27) 4. just about convinced to head out for a workout when I realized there is no pool here at the Last Roundup Ranch.
Counted my blessings and headed for a 3rd coffee. You, however, must carry on; otherwise there won't be a VSL for us old coots to enjoy.

John said...

Thanks Kirk -
Back to the pool tomorrow morning. Our workouts are indoors because here in Northern VT, the water at this time of year is getting hard. Still, a ride to the pool in a frozen car at 5:30am does little to encourage jumping in the pool.
To keep the photography interesting I help run a middle school photography club. Friday we are setting up a photo booth in the school cafeteria with donated lights and costumes. Should be an interesting lunch period!

Don said...

What's the dynamic range like on those goggles?? ;-)