16 May 2013

Dented Confidence

Today I went to my first swim club practice - and I now sit here with mixed feelings. Well, to be honest I want to have a proper breakdown, drink a bottle of wine and eat a massive bar of Cadburys chocolate but since I have neither in the house I'll have to settle for natural yoghurt and a purging blog entry.....

'I am not a swimmer'. That's what goes through my head as soon as I put on my swimming costume. Back as a kid in Sweden I never learnt more than the breast stroke you had to learn to pass school - I simply wasn't all that interested in swimming and I probably wouldn't be now either if it wasn't for the fact that I want to do a triathlon. Last September I took up swimming in an attempt to get around to doing that triathlon and found I really quite liked it, but had forgotten just how hard it is to to be a complete beginner - and I'm not good at being a complete beginner....

Ever since I was a kid I've only ever liked to do things that I'm good at. My best friend Jenny can vouch for how I hated to paint as a kid, simply because I wasn't good at it. As a part of my Type A personality I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I can't excel in everything, so if I don't excel I opt not to do that thing. I am, as they call it, 'achievement addicted' and just doing things for the sake of doing them doesn't really appeal to me

I don't excel in swimming. I know that Coach Martin would disagree with me, as I head him sing my praises and tell the club about my progress since last September, but with my standards I'm rubbish. Tonight I did an hour of practically continous swimming, being pushed fairly hard by tonight's club coach David, and when I left the pool I wanted to cry. Not because I was exhausted (although I was fairly tired) but because I hadn't exceeded my expectations. I knew I was being silly but knowing and feeling is two very different things....during the session I felt like I couldn't keep up with the people in my lane and was a bit stressed out about holding them up (which I didn't do) hence making swimming even harder. I couldn't understand how I can run a marathon in under 3h45min but struggle to swim 400 metres continously at a decent speed. Every breath I took didn't feel like it was big enough and I spent most of the hour feeling like an utter failure.

When I came down to the changing rooms and got some distance to the session I knew I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I'd previously never swum that much or that hard before. Swimming with (almost) only men will make you fall behind a bit, as they are physically stronger. On your first proper club practice you can't expect to keep up with people who swim three-four times as much as you do a week, especially not if you're a beginner swimmer like me. A lot of people couldn't do what I just did, but instead of thinking what I had done well I started comparing myself with really proficient swimmer during the session.

I left the gym with a massively dented confidence, but also very eager to get practicing to improve. Sitting in the sofa now, two hours later, I feel like I put in a good effort today and am very happy how much I've improved since September. I know that if I put in enough effort in becoming a good (or at least half decent) swimmer I can do it. I seem to forget that  when I first started running I was in no marathon shape - I had to work hard to finish my first marathon, just as I'm going to have to work hard with my swimming. Rome wasn't built in a day but I'm willing to get building.

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