Zen On Dirt

Return to the Pool


On May 14, 2001, I woke up at 4:22 in the morning, drank a cup of tea, ate a bar, and went to swim practice.  At precisely 5:00, I jumped in the pool and swam a two hour workout with the rest of my teammates.  When I left the pool area, I didn’t look back, knowing full on well I’d never step foot on that pool deck again.

I’d asked my coach the day before if I could have that afternoon practice off.  It was my new boyfriend’s birthday and I wanted to go out to dinner with him.  I offered to make up the practice on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. Coach told me, in no uncertain terms, no-way no-how.  Had other circumstances not been conspiring to make me consider leaving swimming (like the purchase of a both a road and a mountain bike) I would have said ‘Okay’, and skipped dinner.  As it stood, I left my bag of gear on the deck, and without telling anyone of my decision, never came back.

I’ve been in a pool twice since then.  Once for a birthday party, and once because I thought swimming would be good winter cross training for cycling.  I lasted about 500 yards before I got out and told myself to stop being stupid.


Today, I went into the Rec Center and with a borrowed suit, cap, and goggles, swam for 45 minutes.  It all seemed vaguely familiar, yet completely alien.  I still had the same stroke count per lap, I still had the same bad habit of breathing into the walls, three dolphin kicks off each wall came back immediately, and sound of water hadn’t changed in 12 years.  Having to hold my breath felt foreign, the fact that I pretty stoked to be swimming 100’s (in yards) in 1:32 was humbling for someone who loved the set of 100×100 on 1:20 in a 25 meter pool.

But it felt so good to move.  After threatening improvement, the knee decided to take a few steps backwards in the past few days and I finally had an honest answer to LW’s question of: Do you need to take some time off the bike to let this heal?  She’d told me that swimming was a good option to keep my aerobic fitness up during time off the bike, I told her I’d rather get fat and out of shape than swim.  On day two off the bike, I started driving myself nuts.  On day three, I swam.

Maybe I’ll take up triathlon.


Probably not…but I’m pretty close to pulling the trigger on a punch pass to the Rec Center.  Who’d have thunk I’d ever be this excited to swim again.


And on the plus side, I got to take a shower, which for those of us living at a campground at the end of the road for a little while, is a pretty valuable bonus.


3 thoughts on “Return to the Pool

  1. I started this swimming this winter for similar reasons and I’ve grown to really like the way it feels and it’s helped me heal, before it was the bike or nothing, in the last year I’ve thrown in trail running (love) and swimming, and at home cross fit, it’s good to mix it up.
    Have fun and heal well.

  2. Hey what do ya know, a fellow ITI with burnout swimmer status. It took me 10 yrs to see the inside of a pool. I hated swimming but once I got over being slow it’s a good off bike workout recovery thing.

  3. Campground? End of the road? For a little while? ???

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