I have a love-hate relationship with swimming. I hate waking up at 5.30am in the morning; I hate the moment I have to get up from my bed and get my bag of gears; I hate the moment I reach the pool, feeling so tired and wondering why I’m doing this to myself; I hate the moment my body touches the pool knowing there’s no turning back and I have to go on with training.
First off, are the warm up laps. I constantly grunt and talk to myself while doing warm up laps, feeling annoyed, thinking, “Why did I come training today, I could have slept for a few more hours. This is only the first 100m out of the 500m. OMG THIS WILL NEVER END’. Eventually, the 500m ends and I move on to the next phase.
Then comes the drills, which are usually my favourite part of training. I’m always pretty excited about doing drills and my mood slowly becomes better, but there are days where even drills cannot save me from my endless self-nagging. “ Why am i not moving?” or “ Wah my calves are so tired from kicking with fins OMG” or “I’m just going to slowly move la they won't notice me anyway they’re just drills”.
The build comes next and this part is usually the most exciting part for me. While the warm up and drill sets slowly clears up my grogginess and anger, the build set usually gives me a high when doing it because they are usually short and sweet, but with a high intensity. This makes it fun especially when there are squadmates trying to make it into a mini race like a ‘who can kick the fastest’ competition. I remember trying that once on the first lap and then bonking on the second (Well hello there Steven i hope you’re reading this). Anyways, the build set usually clears up my mind and makes me focus on the swim more. It catches my attention and I start to hate swimming less. This also means my thinking changes from “I hate that I’m here so early doing repetitive movements” to “hmm this is quite fun” or “ i'm moving so smoothly oo swoosh swoosh” or “this is not so bad la haha we’re halfway there”.
The main set is when things get real since it's normally a 2-3km swim. While I thought I would loathe this, the fact that the build made me more positive, I actually enjoy the main set. The more I push, the more satisfaction I get. This may have something to do with the production of endorphins, a happy hormone when we exercise. I think runners regard this as the ‘runners’ high’. So even though it is a 2-3km main set, I go through it eagerly, because 1) I am feeling freakishly positive and 2) I have my squadmates there to push with me readily. The main set is always so tiring and I can always feel the liberated heat on my face. Instead of feeling demotivated, I find this very exciting and satisfying. I always feel very happy and positive right after the main set. Usually, this euphoria is also brought about by lame jokes authored by my squadmates, which makes my day even better than it already is.
So the last set is always the cool down. Most of the time, I don't do it LOL. But bear in mind, cool down is a VERY important part of training. Do not skip it like I do. I will do better once I can go back to the pool.
My training thoughts are always more or less the same. It starts off with anger and dislike, then after a while, everything seems to be okay and then it just goes to a beaming positivity for my mind, body and soul. I’ve realised that swimming alone and swimming in a squad produces a very different experience and really changes my perspective about swimming.
With the squad and a good coach, it is more bearable when it comes to swimming a distance of 3-4km per training. I normally can’t even go past the 1km mark when I swim on my own. Having a group of swimmers suffering together empowers me to not give up. I don't know if it's the same for others but it definitely is for me.
The thought at the start of training is usually “ Why did I come for training? I’m SO TIRED ” and the thought by the end of training is usually“ Wow I swam 4km today! That’s a lot. I feel fitter and I already worked out before I start my first class of the day. Okay I’m definitely doing this again!”.
So although I hate swimming, I also love it. I hate it when I start the workout, but I definitely love it during the training and after. I love the feeling of the water gracefully waltzing on my face and body; I love the focus that I gain from swimming; I love how swimming makes me feel so happy and positive; I love how my squadmates make a hard set so enjoyable; I love how my coach changes up the sets to make things interesting. It has been 3 months since I’ve felt this. I miss my squadmates, I miss my coach, and I miss the lame dad jokes that they crack. I can't wait to go back and go through this again.
Missing the water,
MySwim Squad swimmer & Coach