For the past 8 weeks, I've had the opportunity to take JackRabbit Sports' Efficient Technique Swim Level I course in a sketchy pool on the Lower East Side.
The signs at Seahorse Fitness say things like, "No Spitting" and "No Holding Breathe" in English and Chinese with some of the most entertaining illustrations I've ever seen.
The 25-yard pool is always awkwardly warm and smells slightly of fish. According to their website, the water temperature is kept between 85 and 90 degrees. Perfect for swimming laps...(uhm, no).
The locker room is a place you wouldn't want to be alone and after a shower at Seahorse Fitness, you'll feel dirtier than when you came in.
That being said - I have learned a TON in the 8 hours spent in the pool thanks to the course instructor, Maria Mason Frazetta.
Many of the people in my class have taken multiple swim classes with Maria, have trained with her for triathlons, etc. She's the real deal!
Each week she's provided us with a recap of the workout so that we are now equipped with clear-cut workouts to bring to a pool. She has provided resources and videos and answered a million of our questions.
Since I started trying to get into this whole swimming thing over the summer, I like to think I've improved vastly. That being said, I've still only managed to swim a full mile one time and I still don't exactly look forward to jumping in the pool.
I still feel like a fish out of water. Except, in the water. Becoming Michael Phelps is no easy task. And here are some things I've learned from my many (short) laps in NYC pools.
1. No matter what the temperature of the pool is, I am a baby and will shiver a little bit when I hop in.
2. Constantly having Swimmer's Ear as a child has scarred me for life. The second I feel a drip of water enter my ear canal, all bets are off and I panic. At least half of my time in the pool is spent adjusting and readjusting my swim cap and trying to mold my ear plugs to fit perfectly into my ear. The second I start swimming, they usually get messed up and I have to stop and readjust all over again.
3. I never realized that most people breathe out through their mouths. I'm a nose breather, which is all well and good until you have some phlegm or are feeling stuffed up. Then, it can get messy. I've grown accustomed to some snotty swims. Cute, right?
4. After swimming, I tend to feel incredibly bloated and have a stomach ache. I've done some Googling on it, and it seems to be a problem some other people experience as well. I think it may have to do with my panicked gulps for air! Either way, it doesn't feel great and even results in lots of burping while I'm swimming.
5. Also not great is the sleepy feeling in my eyes for an hour or so after swimming thanks to the chlorine.
6. I'm also typically starved after swimming, though research has made me realize that I'm not, in fact, burning as many calories as if I were to run or bike or lift. So sadly, I can't yet eat as many calories as Michael Phelps does on a daily basis.
7. The bathing suit dryer at New York Sports Club is a lifesaver.
8. I obviously shower after swimming, but that does nothing to remove the scent of chlorine from my skin which seems to linger for at least 24 hours.
9. There is SO MUCH to think about while you swim. I'm trying so hard to be aware of my body while doing laps and focusing on form but sometimes it gets frustrating and I just want to go back to my old ways - it seemed to be easier, faster and less mentally challenging to windmill my arms back and forth.
10. There is no cute way to take off a soaking wet bathing suit. You must shimmy and contort your body and there is really no way to be modest in the locker room. That, combined with the bloat, goggle marks and snot makes me simply irresistible.
I'm a long way away from triathlon ready, but that's the ultimate goal so I will continue to practice practice practice. Just keep swimming as Dory would say!