I really love triathlon, but when it comes to the first leg of the race, I’m a swimmer. Through and through.
I swam competitively for years while in middle/high school, so every time I return to the pool I remember why I dedicated 20-plus hours a week to the sport. I also have some tendencies/preferences that make me much more of a swimmer than a triathlete.
For example, there’s a movement to keep Wilson long course, or set up for 50m, full time, as it is now. But I have a strong preference for short course. I’d guess most year-round swimmers do — mainly because we spend nine months of the year training and racing at 25 yards and only the summer at 50m. Also, triathletes who don’t have formal swim training often don’t do flip turns, and in short course, there are way more walls and corresponding turns to do. No flips in open water, so triathletes generally benefit more from swimming longer distances without interruption.
[If Wilson went short course for at least part of the time, we wouldn’t have super crowded lanes. Just sayin’.]
The other thing that makes me a swimmer is my love for strokes besides freestyle. I get really bored really fast doing straight and steady free — after all, I was a sprinter/breaststroker — so I always prefer to vary up my distances and strokes to keep it interesting. Tonight I did an IM (individual medley, not to be confused with Ironman) workout as follows:
4 x 200 [100 free, 25 free kick, 25 breast kick, 50 backstroke]
6 x 200 [100 IM, 75 free fast, 25 recovery back]
4 x 50 free build
Total: 45 minutes, 2300m
I’d say it’s fair that triathletes are straight freestylers because that’s really all you need in a race. And without some training in stroke technique, it’s easier to stick with the basics.
In any case, I’m all for IM. I’m a solid breaststroker and can hold my own in fly. I’m a terrible backstroker because my body doesn’t rotate correctly/in a coordinated way [In fact, my coach used me as a bad example in front of 50 other athletes at swim camp] but I enjoy it for recovery.
My hours in the pool in recent weeks have reminded me that I do in fact enjoy swimming. It’s not the chore I thought it was.
After my workout, I hopped over to lane one to run with Amy, who has a badass bruise on her leg following a bike catastrophe this past weekend. Chatting made the time pass quickly, and before I knew it I’d been going for 50 min (she started before me). I’m looking forward to more sessions like this one!