I've become a decent runner in the last year. That is to say I can go out and run 10 miles somewhere between 8-9 minutes per mile and still feel like I have some gas in the tank. On the bike, I'm getting better, though I really have to stay on top of it. But in my last race I managed speeds of just over 20 MPH over the 10 mile course. I was pretty pleased with that.
None of these overall gains are translating into swimming. I'm horrible at it and I'm not sure why. I've read the Total Immersion book and have worked with all the drills. People that are better swimmers than I (which is everybody), have commented that my stroke looks good, my butt and legs are not dragging, my kick is OK, and I'm doing a decent job "rolling" left to right. I've tried breathing every second stroke and every fourth stroke. I've tried bi-lateral breathing. I naturally breath to the right, and today I noticed that as turned my head to breath, my left arm was executing a more powerful stroke than my right arm when my head is down. But when I tried to make an adjustment all I managed was to go slower. I got passed by seventy year old man doing the breast stroke. And there is no disrespect at all intended to my lane partner, after all he was blowing me out of the water, with the full force and affect of the pun intended.
Luckily, there is a part of me that doesn't care. I know that I've written about how on a run I enjoy exploring the neighborhood and discovering things you normally wouldn't see. But with swimming, there is a comfort of going down and back, down and back, slowly counting laps. I know the bottom of the pool well and we are friends. I enjoy my swim workout days. There is a zen like lesson on patience while swimming that I totally get my groove on.
That said, I wouldn't mind getting that lesson out of the way a little quicker.
I've talked about individual goals. Mine is that I would love to become a consistent top third finisher in my age group. I've done it on the run and I've done it on the bike. But I blow it on the swim every time, usually before the first turn buoy, when I've psyched myself out so badly that I've had to switch to the side stroke. I'm not even sure "side stroke" and "triathlon" should ever be mentioned in the same sentence. And when over a half mile swim course you've been passed by everyone in the starting wave behind you, and then half of the racers in the starting wave behind them, you are having a bad swim day.
The way I see it I have three options. The first is switch to duathlons. The second is to accept my lack of swimming ability and do the best I can. The third is to figure the swimming out.
The obvious choice is option three. Raise the bar and set the goal. However there is a part of me that says I can make a compelling argument for some sort of hybrid solution made up of options two and three. The argument would be somewhere in the neighborhood of "Though I need to push myself I can't loose focus on why I do this stuff, which is because I enjoy it. And there is a fine line between enjoyment and setting yourself up for frustration". Or something like that. It's not that I don't want to raise the bar, it's that I want to make sure I am raising the right bar. I have to look at this "problem" at both the micro and macro level.
A cop out? I hope not. Am I over thinking it? Probably.
So I'm going to think about this one. Input appreciated.