Thick white fog hung over the East Texas lake early that sultry, steamy summer morning. The ground clouds mirrored the layer of gauze of sleep over my still slumbering eyes. We’d been awakened at the butt crack of dawn a bit too gleefully by the Scoutmaster or one of his slightly sadistic and sycophantic Scout leaders. It was the Big Day. The one we’d been dreading, anticipating, and otherwise talking about all week. It was time for mission impossible: the Mile Swim.
Slowly our shivering selves made our way to the shore, shedding shirts, shoes, and sleepy heads. Safety spelled out in a speech, suddenly it was sink or swim and shut the hell up time. The rest is mostly a blur, but somehow I and most of my Scout siblings, suffering silently in solidarity, finished the damn thing. One thing is crystal clear though: there were some alligators in that water. I swear I shit you not… seriously!
Skip ahead to present day, and your intrepid bicyclist, yoga practitioner, walker, and blog and book writer (moi) finds himself using far too many alliterative sentences trapped in this third person reference.
Oh, and I’m also now a gym rat (I prefer gym dude, as opposed to that dude named Jim). I discussed the benefits in my recent post 7 Reasons Why Joining a Gym Can Improve Your Bicycling, but I’ve been surprised by my progress in the pool already. That’s because I lost access to a pool in fall of 2017. Plus, plump people in public sometimes have issues being half naked. Fortunately I don’t really care.
Strava, the fitness app I use through my Garmin watch, tracks swimming alongside biking and running. Although I have only a few efforts under my Aquaman belt, I’ve already noticed improvement in both speed and longevity. Check out this data chart.
While I’ve swum faster for shorter distances, this swim was not one I planned to go out and do .61 miles (1,075 yards) in 26 minutes and 6 seconds. I felt good, worked on my form and especially kicking my legs more, and kept at it. I might have kept going but the gym was closing an I had to hit the hot tub and steam room.
I think swimming is really beneficial for taking a good bit of gravity out of the equation. It’s way softer on joints, the water feels good if at the right temperature, and it’s fun, challenging and relaxing all at the same time. I’m grateful to the YMCA since I was able to receive a good rate and avoid the joining fee. But I’m also glad I made this choice to provide myself with pool access again as well as classes, weights and machines.
Perhaps swimming will be the magic ingredient that finally helps me drop some weight. If not, at least it will make me stronger and build or maintain muscle. That’ll do for me. And you should shake a sharp stick at that. Or something shaped similarly. Alright, already with the alliteration!
Happy V.D., everyone! (Valentine’s Day)
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