Thursday, November 7, 2013


"On a scale of one to ten, one being low and ten being high, how stubborn do you think I am?" I asked sweetly. 

"In general or when you want to be stubborn?" Doug replied. 

"When I'm actually being stubborn" I said. 

"Olympic caliber baby. With bonus points." was the response. And then he darted outside with the recycling before I could argue with him. 

It's true. I pride myself on being flexible and quick to respond to change but, when I have a reason to be stubborn, I'll dig my heels in so deep it takes some pretty heavy machinery to dig me back out again. 

A funny thing happened at the pool on Wednesday morning. My stubborn streak kicked in big time. The only problem was that I wasn't exactly sure what I was being stubborn about. What I was refusing to budge on. What I was unwilling to yield. 

I just knew it was something.

I mentioned in Tuesday's blog that I was working on changing my swim stroke from barge to speedboat. I mentioned that, on Monday, I had found a drill that worked well at getting me to move the way I was supposed to move without feeling too unnatural. 

The only problem was that I was doing this drill in slow motion. 

On Wednesday morning we got to the pool and were told we had a 'fun' set to do. It was a tough set in terms of distance but the kind of set I normally like. It looked like this: 

Warm up
200m pull
6x50m breast arms with freestyle kick
150m pull

Main set (also known as a pyramid set)
100m fast
200m (4x50m kick)
500m tempo
700m (400m build, 4x50m fast, 100m fast)
700m (400m build, 4x50m fast, 100m fast)
500m tempo
200m (4x50m kick)
100m fast

I put my hand up (like I do when I have a question and also to be funny). "Do you want me to swim fast or to swim well?" I asked. 

"I want you to swim well but push your speed. Keep working on your body roll" was the response. 


We started. I swam as fast as I could while keeping my body rolling the way I had figured out on Monday. I was lapped in the 100m. 

I lead during the 200m kick set because I'm a pretty fast kicker. 

I was lapped several times in the 500m tempo. In fact, they didn't even wait for me to finish before heading into the 700m set. 

Here's the thing. I was swimming significantly slower than I normally do and yet it felt harder. I no longer had my 'feel' for the water and felt like I was really struggling to move forward.  I was out of breath. It was not pretty. 

It was during the 500m that my stubborn streak kicked into high gear. I will NOT lose my roll. I WILL push to keep the form I'm learning and I will NOT allow my body to go back to the way I always swim. I kept moving. Kept panting. Kept feeling like a new kid at the pool flailing about ungracefully. Kept being lapped by my swimming friends who usually beat me to the wall by seconds, not minutes. 

I got to the 700m part and the other ladies were already more than 200m ahead of me in the set. I pushed harder and harder while forcing my body to keep rolling back and forth, stubbornly refusing to sacrifice form for speed.  

I got to the 4x50m section and my coach told me to swim them "fast!!!". "Dammit" I thought. "I am trying to swim them fast. Can't you see how hard I"m trying??"

I did the first 50m in one minute. 

One minute!!!

Not 50 seconds. Not 48 seconds. 

One. Whole. Minute. 

It was starting to get depressing. Body roll is supposed to reduce drag and help you move more quickly though the water. Not lumber about like a seal with one flipper tied behind his back. 

The next 50m took 58 seconds. The third took a minute. 

Bloody hell! I was getting so frustrated at myself and then at my coach who kept saying 'faster'. 

For the fourth 50m, my stubborn streak kicked in. A different one this time. I pushed off from the wall and purposely fell into my old stroke. My comfortable stroke. My barge stroke. I flew through the water, hit the wall, flew back and touched the wall in 53 seconds. It felt fabulous. 

"That's better!" she said. 

A third stubborn streak kicked in and I thought "no it's not! It's faster for sure. But it's the stroke that you've been on me about to fix for a year."

So I stubbornly went back to the body roll and struggled through the next 700m. It took so long that it was 7am and I still had 800m to go. 

"I'm done!" I said, trying to keep the frustration from my voice. 

"What happened today? Was it your blood sugar or the stroke correction."

"Stroke correction." I said crisply. "I would have stopped if I had blood sugar issues."

"Well, it takes time. Give it two weeks and you'll notice a big difference."

"I sure as hell hope so" I thought as I headed to the shower. Because it's pretty darn tempting to drop this whole thing and go back to being fast. 

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