As I’ve announced several times on this blog, I used to hate swimming. It was dreadful to go swim on my own in the pool. I equated it to being on the treadmill facing a wall. However, since I started going to my local YMCA’s 6 a.m. Masters Swim workouts, I’ve changed my mind about swimming! I wouldn’t say that Swimming and I are ready to make it Facebook official yet, but I’m definitely warming up to it.
The Encinitas YMCA Masters Swim is the place to be at 6 a.m. on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning (although there are workouts each week these are apparently the most popular days) if you are a triathlete in the North County Coastal area. There are 8 lanes and despite being a self-proclaimed “strong swimmer” I end up in the 6th fastest lane (or 3rd to slowest depending on how you want to look at it). Our lane’s base 100 yard pace is 1:45, the next slowest lane’s pace is 1:55/2 and the fastest lane is apparently a 1:10 base.
The first time I came to this workout I was surprised/intimidated by all very fit looking people there – turns out several pro triathletes frequent the YMCA Masters Swim, including local Encinitas pro-triathlete Beth Walsh (she has no idea who I am so I am kind of a creeper). Compared to the TriClub Masters Swim that I used to go to (where I was in the 3rd-4th fastest lane out of 7), these people look SERIOUS. I thought they might beat me up in the parking lot afterward….not really, but they definitely could! Luckily, the coach was super nice and explained everything to us, and even better, two twin girls that Mike knows also attend Master’s Swim and gave me us the insider’s info.
Swimming Intervals the Right Way
The best part about Masters Swim is that it is a coached workout so I can guarantee that I’ll be getting in a fabulous workout each and every time I attend. We always start with some easy swimming on our own, then we start on the warm-up set, which sometimes involves a kick set. Then we get into the main set which is usually the longest (1,000-2,000 yards) and we finish up with a shorter set, usually at lower intensity (but sometimes not!). The workout is designed for the fastest lanes and is supposed to go for an hour and fifteen minutes, so unfortunately oftentimes I don’t finish the whole workout due to time constraints. However, I always finish the main set and then try to get in at least 100 cool-down.
Another thing I really like about this particular Masters Swim is that we actually do the sets the correct way. One of the twins always leads the lane and she is really good at getting us to hit our intervals. Sometimes we go a little too slow and end up foregoing some of the rest between sets, but overall we hit them on the head (i.e. when the coach says to do 5 x 100 at base, we always come in right around 1:40-143 and then leave at the 1:45). This is a big change from when I swim on my own and kind of decide how long I want to take a break and really don’t pay attention to the time.
Another bonus to Masters Swim is that since I have someone leading my lane, it’s ok to zone out a bit. I don’t have to worry about counting laps or anything, I just need to make sure I’m not falling behind. The majority of the time, I do make an effort to watch the clock and make sure I”m hitting my intervals and to make sure I know where we are in a set, but sometimes I just zone out and let my thoughts wander. It keeps me sane!
Do I Love Swimming?
I wouldn’t go as far as to say I LOVE swimming now, but I definitely think that my attitude about it has changed. Not only do I enjoy getting it out of the way first thing in the morning, I’m usually very energized at the end of the workout and ready to take on my day. I enjoy the social aspect of master’s swim as well – Mike and I drive to/from the workout together and once I’m in my lane, I enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow swimmers.
This morning I had a particular breakthrough. I swam the entire 1 hour 15 minute workout and was able to complete 3,800 yards! I am SO close to the 4,375 yards that I will be racing on June 24 at Ironman Coeur D’Alene! I know that consistently attending Masters Swim is going to dramatically improve my swim endurance and hopefully increase my speed as well!
Do you swim alone or with a masters program? When you swim alone are you good at making your intervals?