Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Me and my Parachute

Yesterday I wrote about how I am a one-pace wonder in the pool.

Well, Christine seems to be on a mission to fix that because she showed up at the pool on Monday morning with a parachute and a set of exercises to do.

Here’s how it went.

I started off with my warmup which always consists of 600m-800m of some combination of regular swimming, pulling and kicking.

Then she taped this workout up for the two people in my lane (Greg and myself).

200m pull (ie. put the pull buoy between my legs and only use my arms to swim)
4x50m fast (ie. 50m as fast as you can, rest 15 seconds, do it again)
200m pull
4x50m fast
2x100m negative split (the second 50m of each hundred had to be done faster than the first 50m)
200m pull
2x50m fast

“Make sense?” she asked Greg and I.

“Yep, we replied”. I can’t speak for Greg but I was a little surprised. It seemed a lot easier than last Friday’s interval session.

“Céline, I brought a parachute for you. It will help you swim faster. I want you to wear it when you do the 50m fast parts”. (I’m pretty sure she was sporting an evil grin at this point but I already had my goggles on so I couldn’t tell for sure).

Anybody ever tried a swim parachute before? They look like this:

And they work like this:

They create a pile of drag and slow you down, making you work a hell of a lot harder.

After I finished my first 200m pull, I strapped on the parachute and took off. Within the first ten seconds, I hated it. I kept kicking it and, as expected, it slowed me down and made it really hard to swim. I was panting after the first 50m.

“Céline, I really need you to work hard here. I want to see white water churning” Christine said.

I almost cried – I kid you not. My eyes actually welled up and, for one brief second, I debated saying the hell with it and taking it off. I really did.

Then my stubborn side kicked in and I set off for the second of four 50m. It didn’t get any easier. I still kept kicking the rope, I was panting and struggling and exhausted by the end.

The next two were no better.

After I finished all four, I got to take it off and do 200m of pulling. That, my friends, was the easiest 200m of pulling I had ever done. I enjoyed the first 150m but, as I started the last 50m, I began to panic a little bit because I knew I’d be tying the parachute back on again.

I tied it on with more than a wee bit of trepidation and headed off. This time I was angry. How dare she tell me to try hard – I WAS trying hard. I felt my chest heaving, my arms burning and I was having a hard time breathing properly because I was panting so hard.

That's when I noticed that I was keeping pace with the person in the lane beside me. And they weren’t dragging anything. Yes, they are slower than me normally but still, I was keeping pace. Might as well see if I can beat them back!

Christine urged me to kick harder, turn my arms over faster and, this time, instead of trying not to cry, I nodded and headed off again. My tears were gone, my anger had subsided and I just swam – hard.

I finished the workout completely spent. I have had running workouts like that, running hills and intervals until I was ready to collapse, but I have never had a swim workout like that before. Christine's parting words: “If we do that for a week or two, you’ll be surprised how much stronger and faster you’ll become. When I was training for my lake swim, I used to swim with a parachute all the time. In fact, for an extra workout I used to go to the Welland canal and pull kayaks behind me.”

Oh good lord.

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