Back in the pool again

I started swimming competitively at age seven, was swimming on a club team year-round by the time I was in middle school, spent my entire high school career assuming I’d swim in college, was so burned out my senior year, I broke up with swimming for five years. I headed back to the pool only after injuries forced me to seek a form of cardio less boring than the trusty ol’ recumbent bike. I signed up for open-water swim events to motivate me, and have had a love-hate relationship with the sport ever since.

Me finishing the 1-Mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Challenge last year.

Now, I’m headed back to the pool again after being out for roughly a month. I could waste a lot of time telling you why I’ve been out for so long. Instead, here’s a reminder of why I love swimming to begin with:

  • Endorphins! If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely addicted to these feel-good chemicals released by the body during exercise. Running’s my favorite fix. Swimming’s my second-favorite. Sure, the stationary recumbent bike is easy, and I can read while I cycle; but I never get quite the same cardio workout as I do from even a nice, easy 3,000 yards in the pool.
  • A good stretch. My muscles practically crave a good swim after a hard run or lifting session. It’s a perfect recovery workout, and gets aching muscles moving without straining them further.
  • It strengthens muscles running and cycling don’t touch. Swimming really is the total-body workout everyone says it is. If I do butterfly sprints, I can go ahead and skip core work and tricep dips for the day.
  • I love open-water events like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 1-Mile Challenge, which I’ve competed in the past two years.

Me at a 2.5-mile open-water swim in Jacksonville August 2008.

  • It reminds me I’m fierce. I’m better at swimming that I am at running. This means that a) I can usually rely on an ego boost with my workout, and b) it’s a nice way to let loose my competitive side, which rarely comes out while running.

Do you swim for cross-training? What motivates you to head to the pool? Help motivate me to actually head to the pool (I haven’t gone yet!) by posting a comment below.

In other news: I had the interesting (and kind of fun) experience of being on the other side of a newspaper interview this week when USA Today reporter Janice Lloyd called me to chat about running gadgets. I’m quoted in her very interesting story, which ran in yesterday’s paper. Nifty, huh?


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10 responses to “Back in the pool again

  1. I have a renewed love for swimming. I too burnt out on it as a child. I recently join the Ancient Mariners here in Montgomery County and have been swimming 1 x week for 2 hours. I LOVE IT and it is great after a weeks of weights, running, and cycling.

  2. Go swim! I’m currently motivated to head to the pool by the fact that I’m just learning to swim (ridiculous that I’m just learning at 23, I KNOW) and need all the practice I can get! Keep up the great work–can’t wait until I can utter the words “easy” and “3,000 yards” in the same sentence : )

  3. Okay Amy, here’s your motivation. It’s great cross training, there are cool people there, and 50 meter sprints are really fun! (But you knew that already, since you’re a former swimmer). I like the camraderie of the pool as well. I swim at 5:45 AM, and it’s crazy people like me who are there. Really fun!

  4. I am a terrible swimmer but I want to start getting into it to cross train between running. Just today (on basically the coldest day of the year) I went to a local swim shop to get a “real” bathing suit (a speedo) thinking that if I looked the part, maybe I wouldn’t look so foolish in the pool with my terrible form. That was my motivation, now I’ll just have to see if it works!

  5. Meredith

    Hi Amy. Long time no see. If you need motivation to get to the pool, just think about how lucky you are to have the ability to do so. The joke in my family is that swimming was my first love – not a boy – and it freakin’ kills me to have to make the choice between school work and work work or going to the pool, because deadlines are deadlines, homework has to get done and there are only so many hours in a day that the pool is open. If I could swim at midnight, I would. (Such a good thing I graduate soon because I can’t take this much longer…) For me, it’s a privilege when I get to go.

    • I totally swam this morning’s workout in your honor, actually saying to myself at one point: “Meredith would LOVE to be able to jump into this freezing water right now!” It helped. Thanks.

  6. As you already know swimming comes as cross training for me… esp since I am a triathlete. Right now my motivation to hit the pool is thinking about battling the 2.4 mile swim of the Ironman 😀

  7. i looove swimming (in the POOL) because my whole body feels like spaghetti after! such a tough workout, for me anyway, but i have no skills 🙂

    OWS’ing… well, i am terrified of not being able to see what’s in the water, so that’s a whole different story.

  8. swimmykimy

    I love that you’re swimming again! I miss the water so much, every attempt I make to go back is somehow interrupted by a busy work schedule, frustration with a master’s schedule, loneliness when swimming alone and the always dreaded, comparison to what you once were. I’m looking forward to tracking your progress here 🙂

  9. Pingback: My favorite swim workouts « Amy Reinink

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