Learning to swim

A pig swimming
I’m the pig.

This June, my best buddy and I are doing a triathlon.

I’m super confident when it comes to the biking and running portions…but I have no idea how to swim even one lap without having to stop to rest.

So I did what any sensible person would do: I recruited a friend for help—she was a D1 swimmer and has 14 years of experience competing and teaching.

I felt bad for adding another commitment on her plate, but she got even more excited than me. (As I said in my article about exchanging value with friends, people usually love sharing their skills with others.)

Yesterday was Day 1. She arrived with training equipment and a set of drills to improve my technique and stamina.

I thought swimming correctly would be incredibly difficult…

And it was.

It was one of the hardest fucking things I’ve ever tried to do.

She showed me how to properly align my shoulders, chest, and hips in the water. I would watch her and swimmers in nearby lanes swim down and back with ease. It all made sense to me.

Then I would push off and try it all myself and after swallowing a liter of water I’d have to stop about halfway to catch my breath. I’d come up laughing and shaking my head. It looks so easy, I thought.

I kept reminding the both of us that this would take practice. While slightly discouraging, I knew I wouldn’t become amazing at it immediately.

“This is why we’re here,” I repeated to myself.

She was patient and supportive and slowly but surely, I could feel slight improvements. I was able to swim further and further without stopping. By the end of our hour and a half time slot, I could swim from one end to the other without taking a break.

In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal. But compared to my first attempted lap, I felt like a totally new person.

Day 1 was a success. It was fun. And it was my first step to being prepared for this triathlon.

The major lessons:

• You don’t need natural ability to improve in something.

• Just focus on getting 1% better right now.

• Ask people for help; they’d probably love to take part.