The Flailing Tuna Returns

Indoor-PoolThree years ago, in March of 2013, I had a brilliant idea.

I would swim laps.

At the pool.

Yes, brilliant. For it will be a great cardio workout and the many years I spent learning ujjayi breath at yoga would certainly be of benefit as I gracefully cut through the salt/chlorine mixture of water. Right?


Well, wrong. Very wrong. I splashed and heaved my body up and down the pool, gasping for breath at the end,

of lap one,

wondering how brilliant this brilliant idea could be. I thought it more of a stupid idea and, yet, I persevered through nine additional, flailing laps without inadvertently swallowing a gallon of water. If you would like to read more about the introduction to swimming laps, check out the March 3, 2013 blog post on Blogger (at the bottom of the page).

Funny thing, though, after the splish-splashing and gasping and forgetting about yoga breath…

I was hooked.

I was ready to go again.

And, so, back to the pool I traipsed. Again and again and again. I learned a few things along the way, like it’s worth investing in a good pair of goggles and ear plugs, and it’s a good idea not to drink anything at least two hours before jumping into the pool. It’s difficult to keep swimming with water in the ears and a full bladder on the mind.

Flailing Tuna

Anyhow, I finally reached my goal on March 25, 2013.

I hit the one mile mark.

The flailing tuna hit the one mile mark.

Yippee skippee. I was excited over my accomplishment for many reasons. The first reason was that I was never a distance anything…distance runner, distance walker, distance biker…nothing. The second reason was that I had stuck with the swimming long enough to meet this goal. The third reason was that the swim simply felt great. Besides being an awesome cardio workout, it was helping to strengthen my back and shoulders.

I felt stronger.

I felt strong.

The lap swimming continued through the rest of 2013, averaging 24 laps per visit. (A mile is 32 laps at this pool.) I made it through 2014 with a few two-or-three week interruptions here and there, continuing to swim lengthy laps. I have to say, before going any further, that I swim the breaststroke to start the lap and backstroke to finish the lap. For five laps. Then I use a paddle board and kick a lap. Every so often, I’ll freestyle a quarter of a lap, but it’s not my favorite stroke. Many of the lap swimmers freestyle the entire time, but I don’t find that enjoyable. I like looking up at the ceiling once in a while.

Then 2015 happened.

I let an angry left hip get in the way.

In April, 2015, after attending a few physical therapy sessions for said left hip, I went back to the pool. I swam 18 laps. The left hip screamed at me. I erroneously deducted the pool was no longer my friend and stopped going. I chose walking and biking and lifting weights at the gym over swimming. I hung up the suit and goggles and ear plugs for almost a year.

But I missed it.

I missed swimming laps.

Over the course of the last year, I realized swimming didn’t hurt me. It was a lack of exercise, a lack of stretching, a lack of self-imposed physical therapy that could do the worst harm to a body that suffers from scoliosis, arthritis, and a right knee that doesn’t track properly, not to mention the simple effects of aging. Oh yeah, I have had to deal with it all, but I’m not complaining. I can stand upright. And swim.

I went back to the pool two weeks ago. The flailing tuna returned. I call myself a flopping fish since I tend to feel that way in the pool. I have a difficult time swimming a straight line, especially with the backstroke.

I lilt to the right.

Then to the left.

I’ve hit the ropes and other swimmers a few times. That being said, I had somehow expected the blaring of trumpets after a triumphant return swim of 18 laps in a lane all to myself. Wrong once again. It was busy at the pool that day. When I started out, I had a lane to myself. Then another swimmer showed up and asked to share a lane. I don’t like sharing a lane. It’s not that I’m selfish, it’s that I flail. Anxiousness builds the entire time. I worry about hitting the other swimmers. When I’m backstroking, I can’t see anyone. “Where is he/she?” “Am I going to hit him/her?” It drives me a bit insane. I usually stick it out to the end of the swim, but it’s just not as enjoyable as when I can flail unimpeded.

I made it to lap 14, barely, and had to quit. I was giving myself rope burn trying to stay away from the other swimmer. He was a bit of a flailing swimmer as well and that didn’t help the situation. I was also gasping a bit for air, much like I did three years ago when I realized I was a cardio weenie. I suppose the lack of consistent exercise in January and February didn’t help.

Funny thing, though.

I was hooked again.

It was time to get back to the pool and swim toward a mile. A year’s sabbatical from something you love to do creates a rift in the universe. At least in my universe. The only way to close the rift is to engage the pool.

Another two weeks went by before I again stuck foot in the salt/chlorine water. This time, I would have a lane to myself. This time, I would swim 18 laps. This time, I would gasp for air a little less often. This time, the only objects that would run me aground were the flotation devices of the children in the next lane over. I heard the moms reprimand, “Keep your things over here! You need to stay in this lane!” 

flailing child

Thanks, mom, for teaching your children pool manners. I appreciate it and I’m glad the tuna didn’t flail into any of your children.

That would have been bad.

Very bad.

Extremely bad.

I can see the headlines already. “Woman Flails Unabashedly Into Unsuspecting Child!”

But I digress. I must put an end to this watery mess so we can all dry off and get on with life.

Here is my goal, dear people: That I will swim twice a week through the end of April, that I will not make excuses, that I will work toward the mile swim once more. It’s up to you to hold me to this and it has to happen before biking season kicks into full gear. Because, you know, I love biking a tad more than swimming.

No, I’m not going to give up swimming again, but it might be reduced to once a week over the summer months. I still have to find time for everything else – weight training, yoga, physical therapy, and the rest of the kitchen sink.

It’s all important to the life of a flailing tuna.

22 responses to The Flailing Tuna Returns

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Lois! Perhaps instead of a flailing tuna, I need to envision myself as a large, strong animal with big teeth…as long as I don’t scare the kids at the pool 😉

  1. Dan Antion says:

    Wow. You make me feel a little like a sloth. Hmmm, what to do. I’m pretty sure my shoulder would protest if I tried to swim. I have high hope of getting back on my bike, but that may give way to a construction project. Actually, I hope it does. Good luck with the flailing/swimming.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Considering I have been a sloth for two months, don’t be too impressed just yet. I think you should find the time for your bike when you are working on the construction project. Every time you pound in a few nails and connect something, ride the bike around the block.

      • Dan Antion says:

        Since I’ll be working on the garage, I will have to move my bike a lot to keep it out of harm’s way. Maybe I’ll ride it around the block each time I move it.

  2. Ally Bean says:

    Best of luck with your practical, well-planned exercise regime. I’m sure that an athlete like yourself will do wonderfully, finding time to do it all. And do it very well, at that! [Positive words, supportive vibes, uplifting thoughts.]

  3. I dived into this post with great interest because I am seriously considering taking up swimming in lieu of rowing. Also as a replacement for running until I can get some measure of cardio fitness back not to feel depressed on the running track. I think you may have convinced me. We can flail together. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Just do it, Nemo! Just do it! Swimming is far easier on the joints than running and rowing and biking. Plus, I need someone to swallow water with me (virtually, of course 😉

      • The flounder has landed.

        First swim today. I was cactus after three laps (25m each). But I ended up doing 40 laps with rest breaks. Although, rather bizarrely, I managed the last ten without stopping. Now my arms hurt. And I’m starving.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Awesome! Kudos! I guess I forgot to mention the hunger. Swimming makes me want to gnaw on my own arm. I’ve taken to throwing a snack in my gym bag for after.

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