Swimming is weird. I have attended three classes and I still do not know how to breathe. We gulp in air, dive under the water, kick off from the wall, and flail as far as we can until we run out of air. Then, like a submarine, we surface.
Our instructor Kyle builds the swimming stroke from fundamentals. We learn how to kick. We roll like a porpoise from side to side. We begin to move our arms. I paint a rainbow with my arm or pull a zipper up my side. Still no inhaling.
Some of Kyle’s drills will not make it into the final stroke. These diversionary drills, like painting a rainbow, explain concepts. Sticking your head above the water makes the rest of your body sink. Side swimming does not propel you far.
Relaxation makes the mechanics easier. Legs and hips should be supple and loose. A classmate observed, “How can I be relaxed when I’m drowning?” I tense with focus for running and biking. I learn to let go with swimming.
With one breath, I glide almost the whole narrow width of the pool before I sputter and surface. An Olympic triathlon requires one mile of swimming or 46 long lengths of the pool. Either I will need to learn how to inhale or get much better at holding my breath.