03 October 2013
Ode to My Swim Buddy
For the past 365+ days, my friend Kendra has been my swim buddy. At the time, it was basically the only one of the three sports in which I had a shot at keeping up with her :) And even if we weren't swimming the same pace, at least we couldn't get further than 25yds away each other. Rather than do an organized Masters practice, we'd meet at one of the local high schools for some pool time in the mornings before work. Having someone close to my speed to swim with has been invaluable over the past year. When we swim together, I absolutely work harder to try and keep up. We're both competitive, but in the best possible way - I want to touch the wall ahead of her just as much as she wants to reach it ahead of me and together that combination of sheer will and desire makes us swim faster than we ever would on our own. It's a great exercise in mental focus too - with every breath I take to my right, I can see how we're lined up, if I'm half a hand ahead or if she is. And I always have the choice - do I want to reach that wall first badly enough that I'll dig deeper and try and go faster? Or let up? Swimming with Kendra just a few weeks ago, I finally broke 1:20 for 100yds. It was during a set of sprints and by the end of it, both our arms were noodle-y and we were gasping for breath. But we both broke 1:20, swimming our fastest 100 yet, and that was all that mattered. It's also an exercise in strategy - we are learning each other's strengths and weaknesses in the water and becoming more conscious of our own. My flipturn kick pushes me off the wall faster (thank you thunder thighs, I always knew you were good for something), but by midway down the pool, I've often lost any ground I might've gained, thus forcing me to really work on my pull if I want to keep up. And during the longer sets, it becomes all about pacing strategy - almost like a mini race. How fast can I go now without blowing up by the end? Is she starting to make a move and pull ahead - do I go with it and try to keep up or stay at my own pace that I know is comfortable? The correct answer is usually to try and kick it into high gear and keep up, because that's the only way I'm going to become a better, faster swimmer. But swimming with Kgo isn't just about racing each other to the wall - it's also about perfecting the art of Social Kick. During warmup and cooldown, we'll grab our kickboards for a little social kick up and down the lane, catching up on how our families are doing, what's the next race on our schedules, weekend plans (or weekend shenanigans if it's Monday morning), and life in general. Mornings with my swim buddy are some of my favorite ways to start the day - thanks for helping me become a better swimmer Kgo!