Wednesday, January 13, 2010

See Erin Swim

A not so brief history of me and swimming...

When I was nine years old I joined the Loomis Basin Dolphins swim team. At that age I don’t think I was very aware of my athletic inability, I just liked being on the team. We had carpools and the moms took turns bringing us snacks. Our team was really good that year and the whole experience was fun. I learned how to swim the four strokes and for 12 weeks a year I was proud to be a Loomis Dolphin.

As I matured I began to realize that I wasn’t really all that good of a swimmer. This corresponded exactly with the time when my brother and sister started collecting blue ribbons. On Mondays after swim meets our family folder was stuffed with the blue, red and white ribbons of the winners in the Toohey family, and the pink, purple and green ribbons that this slower swimmer collected. To be honest I don’t know if it bothered me or not; I have always been so proud of my brother and sister that I loved watching them win. You could find me at the edge of the pool deck in my dorky oversized straw hat cheering for my brother, sister and any friend who came along.

By the time I was in high school it was clear to me that I was not a swimmer. I had perfected the imperfect freestyle. My mom could recognize me in any pool by my bobbing head. Try as I might, I was destined to be a middle of the road (lane?) swimmer. But I still loved my team, I accepted my place in the middle of the pool with other mediocre swimmers and I dedicated myself to cheering for my siblings and friends. To this day, my summers on swim team are still among my favorite life memories and I am blessed to have lifelong friends from the Loomis Dolphins.

Five years ago I was given the opportunity to coach high school swimming. I loved every day of it—even the cold and rainy days. It reminded me of all the fun I had in my adolescent swimming years. Independently, my dad started swimming in an adult swim program several years ago. I always wanted to try it, but because I was living 30 minutes away, it was not possible. Every day that I coached made me want to swim even more. One of the things that I find amazing about coaching is how much the teacher actually learns; I wanted to try for myself all of the things I was teaching. So when I changed jobs and was driving past the pool every day I decided that it was time to swim again.

I joined Rocklin Aquatics Masters Swimming in June. RAMS is part of U.S. Masters Swimming which is for adult swimmers. We have two coaches who write work outs and give instruction. The morning practice has between 20-40 swimmers. I love going to this workout. There is so much community and support. There are men and women of all ages and ability. There is friendly competition, but mostly gentle encouragement. I am inspired by the men and women I swim with who are 20, 30 and 40 years older than me. I am amazed that some of these people are also triathletes. The only problem? It starts at 5:30 am.

During the summer when it was warm and the sun was rising I had no problem getting out of bed to go swimming. I improved dramatically and I actually believe I am a better swimmer now than I was 10 years ago. I don’t even bob during freestyle anymore! But my animal instinct is making the winter difficult and for the last six weeks I have found a lot of excuses to stay hibernating in my warm bed. This morning I finally dragged myself out of bed. One thing is certain about swimming—if you skip practice, it will punish you upon return. So practice this morning was, umm, difficult to say the least. My efforts (or lack thereof) even caught the attention of the coach who spent some one-on-one time trying to help me through. Despite all of this I am dedicated to sticking with it. I WILL get up again tomorrow morning and it WILL get easier if I don’t get lazy.

People always say that swimming is a lifelong sport. I am beginning to believe they are right, and I hope that in 30 years I may think of this winter as still the early stage of my swimming "career."

Totals Tuesday, January 12
*Yesterday was a great day! I even fit a beer into my day =)

Total Calories: 1450
Exercise: 3 mile run
Weight loss: 10 pounds
Water: good
Nonfat, toffee nut latte
Raw Broccoli
Vegetable dip made w/ nonfat sour cream
Angel Hair Pasta w/ Tomatoes and basil
Yoplait Yogurt
5 black olives
Lean Cuisine Cheddar Broccoli and Potatoes
1 Corona Light

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