I didn’t think I liked swimming. The water was cold, the lanes always felt crowded. And while the goal is to stare at the black line for lap after lap, I always felt as if all goggles were on me. It was unnerving. Nonetheless, I would put on my swimsuit and pile my gear into the bag before heading off to the local high school for laps.
Most people would just tell me to stop swimming. If you don’t like it, why do you do it? There are plenty of other ways to move your body and exercise. True. Very, very true. But, for me, I had set an audacious goal of completing my first half-distance triathlon. The race requires me to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles. Even the most accomplished athletes train for this kind of race. An average recreational athlete like myself most certainly has to train.
While training is work, it should also be enjoyable. You should want to do it. And I needed to find a way to want to swim.
The answer would soon be out my back door. With an H2X Challenger 15D by Master Spas, I would be able to train for my half-distance triathlon while leaving the angst at the high school pool.
Frustrations in the Pool
I looked at the lap lanes. Glanced at my watch. Checked my phone. And I checked the lanes. They were supposed to be empty, at least according to the pool schedule. At 5:30 pm this particular Tuesday, an elementary swim team was occupying them.
I called over a staff member and made a polite inquiry. I was right and the team moved over. But my swim, which had been shoehorned into my schedule, was already delayed.
Twenty minutes later, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I stopped my watch, pulled off my goggles and looked up. It was now 6 pm, a staff member told me, and I needed to move over to a new lane.
To my left, the swim team was still practicing. To my right, the ropes were removed and that section of the pool was being used by a Mommy and Me Swim class. In the left lane, I was being passed by children a third my age. To my right, I was being splashed with cold water as babies squealed with laughter.
I made it through a few more sets from my workout and called it done. It was not the swim I wanted. It was not the swim my training plan called for. But it was almost 6:30 pm, and I still had yet to eat dinner or see my family.
Everything that went wrong during that session was everything that made me believe I didn’t like swimming. It always felt like a game of Tetris to fit in the swim, with inconsistent and limited pool hours. The water was cold. The other swimmers left me feeling intimidated. You were sharing lanes with babies and people who took up a lane to perfect their own unique form of water exercise.
I was getting through the workouts but I wanted to enjoy the training and stay excited about my race. How was I going to do that if I didn’t like one of the three disciplines?
First Swim in a Swim Spa
With my family inside the house, I walked out the back door and took about 10 steps to where the H2X Challenger 15D had been installed. The water was 89 degrees, slightly warm for swimming but still comfortable.
I walked down the steps of the spa and to the swim end control panel. I selected a manual workout, put my face in the water and began to swim against the current. One, two, breathe. StrokeOne, two, three, breathe.
One, two … wait. Am I standing up? What are my feet doing?
It was my first swim in the H2X Challenger 15D, and I was excited. I didn’t have to drive to the pool. I didn’t have to negotiate with my husband for the best time to go. When I was finished, my two boys were going to hop in, too.
Swimming was not going swimmingly, though. I was having a hard time achieving a good body position. My legs were sinking, and I was lifting my head too high when I took a breath.
There is a learning curve to swimming in a swim spa. The continuous current is perfect for stationary swimming and improving your strength, speed, and endurance. However, it will also highlight any areas where you can improve.
Me? I have sinky legs and an ineffective kick.
But with warm water and a private, safe space, I was motivated to get better.
Finding Joy in the Water
The sky was dark, the stars were shining. The neighborhood was quiet as I walked outside.
It was 5 am, a full hour before the pool would open. But I was in my swimsuit, towel in hand, and ready to get in the day’s swim. I opened the covers of the swim spa and dipped my toes in the water.
Still 89 degrees, the temperature my husband and I had settled on — warm enough for playing at night but not too hot for exercise. It was a relief on this brisk spring morning.
I turned on the waterline LED lights and the control panel lit up in the pre-dawn hours. Using the touchscreen panel on the swim side, I selected a comfortable pace and went to the back of the swim spa, where I like to push off at the beginning of a swim. I wasn’t going to worry about pace or nailing a workout. The goal: Just keeping swim.
I pulled my goggles down and tucked in a pull buoy. One, two, breathe. One, two, three, breathe. As I rotated with the breath, I could see the sun begin to rise and color fill the sky.
For 30 minutes, I just swam. And swam. And swam.
When I got out, I could feel the smile cross my face. I had just completed a session in the water, and I was happy.
As it turns out, I didn’t hate swimming. I just didn’t like going to the pool.