Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's not that I can't...

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.


  1. Breast stroke. Yeah. I hear you. I don't like to do breast stroke in front of swim coaches; it's not good for them to laugh that hard. When I was being coached, my coach like to put lots of variety in the plans to keep me from being bored. I told her not to bother putting breast stroke in because I wasn't going to do it. Whip kick is an invention of the devil designed to hurt knees, stress hamstrings, and pull hips out of alignment.

  2. Looked up the stroke on Youtube because apparently what I have been calling "breast stroke" is more likely a "dogpaddle with frog kick". I used it to get through my first two tri's. I liked it because I could sight easier and breathe more frequently. But it wasn't really a "breast stroke". LOL

  3. I can't breaststroke. I can't butterfly, I can't do sculling without drowning. Everyone who though of these are evil, I think.

    Your point on not looking at the workout beforehand is something that I need to do more of.

    Good stuff.

  4. I haven't learned breast stroke yet either. I tried a couple times and felt like an uncoordinated spaz so I pulled the "this hurts my swimmers shoulders" card and did some extra 50's :-)

  5. I come from a swimming background and I struggle heavily with the breast stroke, I feel I can not get moving in the water.

    I think it is a great idea to have an "in case of emergency" stroke for racing, if something happens and cant free style.

  6. One thing that I don't like about going to masters swim is having to do strokes other than freestyle. So I know how you feel. My hardcore swim buddies, however, tell me that it is good for me. Yeah, whatever!