Wednesdays are a swim night, and I have a bad habit of not looking at my workout, in detail, until shortly before heading out. In some ways, it's just as well. Particularly on Wednesdays. There has been a lot of sculling in my Wednesday swims. Sculling and me: well, let's just say we have a love/hate relationship. I recognize it's purpose, but I'm just not good at it. And I go so sloooooow.
So, when I looked at my workout card before heading out, I wasn't surprised to see sculling. But then I saw something else: breaststroke. Breaststroke? Um, breaststroke? Breaststroke.
See, I don't know how to do breaststroke. My last attempt at it was probably about 2.5 years ago, in the second adult swim lesson I took. I was very very focused on learning front crawl, and soaked in as much of that as I could. I also practiced it on my own time.
But breaststroke? I just didn't have the inclination to put any extra work into it. When I did whip kick, I don't think I moved at all. And, I could not seem to coordinate the legs and arms to work together. In fact, I quite clearly remember the instructor laughing at one of my attempts at breaststroke. Seriously. Don't feel bad for me; My feelings weren't hurt. I was laughing too.
The thing is, swimming is not a skill that has come to me naturally. I have worked very very hard to get the feel and technique of front crawl. I remember having to stop three times in my attempts to just swim a single length. Once upon a time, I'd only swim in the wall lane, for fear of drowning. I spent countless hours initially, and later on, focused on getting it right. I still have lots of room for improvement, but I'm confident in my ability to swim front crawl.
But breaststroke? Let's just say, it doesn't come to me naturally either. Worse yet, I haven't put any time into learning it.
I am a firm disbeliever in the use of "I can't." Generally speaking, I can do whatever I decide to. There are plenty of things in my life that I choose not to do, but it doesn't mean I can't. It just means that I don't. There are also many skills which I don't have. Some of those you could apply a "yet" to. Others I'm never going to learn. Life is all about choice, after all. You can't do everything.
I am going to learn how to do breaststroke - eventually. It's on the bucket list.
When it came up in my swim, I made an attempt at it.
And I think I moved backwards.
It was only 25m of breast at a time, mixed in with some front crawl and kick. I stopped at the wall, and watched the person in the lane next to me do it for a minute. Then I tried to replicate it.
I almost drowned.
I did not do even one full length of it. I'd try it for maybe 10 strokes, then swim the remaining 80% of the distance to the wall. I was sharing a lane, and I was afraid the people I was sharing with would pass me, then lap me 3 or 4 times before I finished.
I did not come anywhere close to success with breaststroke, and to be honest, I think it did very little to benefit my swim on this evening, but oddly enough, I found another benefit to it.
Less then three years ago, this is how I felt doing front crawl. Being put back into that position of floundering is a reminder of where I was and where I've gotten to. Sure, I'm still going to flounder sometimes (maybe when I have to scull?), but the point is, I'm a different person. I'm a person that knows I can learn that skill or any other skill I choose to learn.
I spent most of my life saying I can't swim. Now I can.
It's not that I can't do breaststroke. It is just one of those things that I haven't learned how to do - yet.