Tri Training: I Can Swim!

Posted by: , Posted Date: May 8, 2013

By Sharon DeVellis

January – Learn To Swim
On January 6th I started my first Learn To Swim class. This isn’t to say I couldn’t swim. I took lessons when I was a kid–from what I remember they ended when I was in Grade 6. Basically I knew basics–how to float and tread water, complimented with a very bad front crawl and a weak back stroke. Even when I was a kid, I would struggle to do the two lap swim that allowed me in the deep end of the pool.

My first class I couldn’t even swim one 25m length. I would stop 3/4 of the way gasping for breath. I sucked in more water in those first two classes than I typically drink in a week. A month in, I could barely swim 50m. I would flip over onto my back and do the backstroke because it felt safer for me, more doable.

The thing is, I know I can bike and I know I can run. But swimming? The thought of having to swim 1.5km has kept me awake late into the night more than a few times.

I told Jeff who organizes the Toronto Triathlon Festival that I may ruin his event by drowning. I was only half joking.
In the meantime I’ve been watching videos of swimming drills and going to the pool to practice swimming even when I don’t really feel like it.

Fast Forward to February
And my Trainer wanted me to swim 400m and time it.  That’s 16 lengths.

Her exact words were:
I don’t care how many times you have to stop or for how long, but I want you to swim for 400 meters as continuously as possible.

My 400m time is, drum roll please….  13 minutes, 57 seconds.

I believe there may have been a gum wrapper floating by that was faster than me.

Basically, that’s the equivalent of me swimming the 1500m in my triathlon in 52 minutes. The longest swim time in my age category for the Olympic Distance swim at last year’s Toronto Triathlon Festival was 38 minutes. Also keep in mind I was swimming in a pool and not open water.

I’ll just be Captain Obvious here and state that I still have a long way to go. But on the flip side of things, after I did that 400m, I kept swimming laps and got into a bit of a zone and am now fairly comfortable swimming 100m without stopping.

Then THIS happened

I went swimming yesterday and swam 700m without stopping. 700m! That’s 28 laps. I may not actually drown during this triathlon.

Damn If I Didn’t Do It 1500m

March 12, 2013 I swam 1500m without stopping. That’s 60 laps. It took me 45 minutes, a very slow and steady pace, but damn if I didn’t do it.

I’m a mom who’s going to participate in her first Triathlon. I run fairly well, my biking is mediocre at best, and I’ve finally learned to swim – really swim.

I’m telling you, if I can do this – so can you.

gogglesAnd can I just say if goggles had pants they’d be on fire. Anti-fog my…

Can we just talk about this for a second? Because there is a whole lot of *waves hand in a circular motion in front of face* stuff going on with my eyes when I take off my goggles. Let’s start with the imprints it leaves accompanied with the suctioned skin both above and below my eyes that is highlighted by the redness of both my eyes (because the goggles leak) and skin.

I really need to invest in some sunglasses.

But It’s Not Always Easy

This week has been hard on me mentally and physically.  Last week was my recovery week with 3 hours and 20 minutes of workouts planned and ironically, I did more, clocking in at 4 hours.

Sunday my Trainer put in my schedule for this week with the added note, “This is a big week.” It scares the crap out of me when I read that in her notes to me. My planned workout time is 6 hours and 50 minutes. It averages out to an hour a day which seems manageable but the reality is this is six days with some of the days have double workouts. Like today–45 minutes of boot camp and 45 minutes of swimming.

On a scale of 1 to 10 the amount I didn’t want to go swimming was about a 19.

There are so many people who do WAY more than I do. I follow them on twitter and read their blogs as they train for triathlons and ironmans, in awe of their two hour bike rides following by a run or a swim. I can’t even imagine ever getting to that point.

So this week I’m taking it one day at a time, slowly crossing off each workout off my list as I do it. It’s Wednesday and I’ve done 4 hours of workouts since Monday. Only 2 hours and 50 minutes to go.

Read the Full Series – Tri Training
Tri Training – Meet Sharon
Tri Training – What Have I Signed Up For?
Tri Training – And So It Begins
Tri Training – Fitting It In & Staying Afloat
Tri Training – Facing My Fears
Tri Training – Training Schedule, Fitness Level & Losing Weight


Read Sharon’s Blog Posts in Full
Goggles are Liars

Some Weeks Are Harder Than Others

Sharon-Bio-PictureHave you met Sharon DeVellis, also know as Speed Skating Mom and newby to Triathlon Training? She stumbled across speed skating and soon she was trying out a class, even though she had only skated three times in her adult life.

AE_SharonSharon has now decided to take on a Triathlon even though she doesn’t swim. Follow her journey as she learns to swim, finds enjoyment in running and see’s if she looks as dashing in swim goggles and a bike helmet as she does in a speed skating one! Follow her on Twitter to keep up with her latest challenge.


Image courtesy of nuttakit /

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