What’s That You Say? You Can’t Swim?


I’ll admit that the thought of the 400 Meter swim strikes fear in my heart. The registration form for the Mini Mighty Man even tried to deter me by saying that you should be able to swim the distance in 16 minutes to sign up. Sixteen Minutes!!! But, I am determined to overcome this hurdle. I am a grown woman and I should know how to swim.

When I started secondary school in the U.K. (I’m not sure what the grade equivalent is in the U.S. but I was eleven) we were required to take swimming. While most of my peers either started or graduated to the deep end, I stayed in the shallow end of the pool the entire time. I think it might have been an entire school year. In order to get to the deep end, you had to be able to swim the length of the pool and tread water for a minute (or something like that). The other students enthusiastically aspired to this goal. However, I had no such ambition. I just couldn’t figure out why my swimming cap wouldn’t keep my hair dry, especially when I refused to put my head under the water. I now realize it was because it was a riduculous rubber cap with a strap that my mom got from Tescos. For all of my Monday swimming classes, I managed to learn how to dog paddle for a few seconds before my inevitable sinking.

In 1996, I was back in England and my cousin decided that she wanted to take swimming lessons and so I went with her to classes. Once again, she was really into it and was making progress but I was a hopeless case. The instructor would tell us to put our heads in the water and I would just wade around watching everyone else sputter and look uncomfortable. And like all “smart” teachers, he just ignored me and focused his efforts on the good students. Needless to say, I never made any progress.

Fast forward to Fall 2012 …

I am really into my running and I’m putting in 18 miles per week, which is reduced mileage due to the fact that I have been suffering with chronic achilles tendonitis. I probably shouldn’t have been doing more than 10 but I was hooked. I finally got frustrated because I wasn’t able add any more distance to my runs and decided to just stop running to give my achilles the chance to heal. During this time I figured I could do some cross training but I found the old standby elliptical machine to be bor-ring and the jumping around required to perform my workout DVDs seemed to defeat the purpose. After spending some time researching on the internet, I found some articles that touted aqua jogging as a great way for runners to maintain fitness while recovering from injuries. But aqua jogging required you to be immersed up to your chest and it didn’t seem safe for non-swimmers, so I started thinking about the swimming thing and begain looking into classes. A few weeks later, Black Girls Run! Long Island had a meet and greet and a BGR triathlete did a presentation on triathlons. At that moment, I knew there was a triathlon with my name on it.

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