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Learning to Swim Like a Fish

February 24, 2011

… or at least not so much like a drowning cat!

I’m getting towards the end of my first week of my new fitness routine and I thought it was time to reflect on how I’m getting on with it. What I can tell you is that I’ve definitely been working muscles that were getting a free ride in my previous circuit training based routine. Over the course of the week my legs have ached, my glutes have been tender, my shoulders have been screaming and tonight my triceps are complaining about having to stop being lazy and do some work!

I’ve really enjoyed every part of my routine. The gym work is probably the most familiar to me and gives me a dose of cardio (cardio work is an addiction for me!). Having said that, including weight training into my workout has been great (even though it’s probably responsible for my aching triceps). The yoga is super-challenging as it’s so different from my usual exercise, but the thing I’ve found the most difficult is swimming.

I learnt to swim when I was at primary school, but my secondary school didn’t have a pool and I basically stopped, only swimming on holiday. I started swimming again during the summer and did manage to build up to swimming about 1km in a session. However, my technique was still pretty poor and I ended up being lured away by cardio classes. Giving swimming another chance totally makes sense with the injury I have. I have sesamoiditis in my right foot (inflammation around the bones in the ball of my big toe) and IT band syndrome affecting my right hip. I’ve been advised by my podiatrist to stay off any impact exercise (including my beloved walking). Yoga and gym work is good, but it does put some pressure on my toe. Swimming takes all the weight off my feet.

So, I decided to put some effort into learning to swim properly. I think my biggest problem is confidence – I need to get over my nervousness in the water. I’ve been swimming twice this week and both times I’ve had some anxiety before getting into the pool and have had to talk myself into doing it. However, both times I’ve actually enjoyed myself once I’ve taken the plunge. As usual, I’ve done some research and I’m a woman with a plan. I’ve decided to stick with breast-stroke and try to master that as that’s what I’m most comfortable with at the moment. I would like to learn freestyle at some point too. It’s hard to work on speed and technique at the same time, so I’ve tried to split up my sessions. For example, tonight I did a slow warm-up concentrating on my stroke, 15mins faster swimming and a slow cool-down concentrating on my breathing. I was super-proud of myself because for my last 6 lengths I managed to get my breathing sorted (even though I was going super slow) I’m starting by doing 30mins per session and I’m aiming to add 5mins every week. My ultimate goal is to be able to swim for an hour non-stop with good technique. Oh, and I want to graduate to the fast lane Smile

One meal was note-worthy today – my post-swim dinner:


This was my first ever attempt at re-fried beans (I’ve had a lot of Mexican food this week) served with broccoli and leeks. I’m going to say it because everyone is thinking it – it does look like vomit, but it was very tasty!

Mexican-style re-fried beans

  • tin pinto beans (could do dried beans and soak and cook, but I’m lazy!)
  • one clove garlic
  • half small onion, chopped
  • half orange pepper, chopped
  • half beef tomato, chopped
  • pinch chilli powder and ground black pepper

1. Blend the pinto beans and garlic for about 5 seconds (before they go to complete mush).

2. Fry the onions in a little oil until soft, add the peppers and fry some more for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the blended beans, tomatoes, chilli and pepper and fry for a couple more minutes.


Also, I cooked some soup for my lunch tomorrow and to top-up my freezer stocks:


This volcanic looking soup is a very simple combination of chopped onion, a (very) large sweet potato, half a small butternut squash and about a litre of vegetable stock (marigold vegetable bouillion), cooked and all blitzed together. I cannot wait to eat this – yummy!

I’m off to the podiatrist to get measured for my orthotics tomorrow morning, I’ll have them to start wearing in about two weeks!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2011 2:26 am

    im OBSESSED with refried beans mmmm and especially pinto beans. black beans are cool too but i love the taste of pinto.
    ooo and i LOVE that volcanic soup- bet it tastes delicious!


  2. February 25, 2011 8:34 am

    Thanks for the refried beans recipe, I’ve always wanted to try that!

  3. February 25, 2011 8:52 am

    Yaay on the swimming! You’re so right to focus on the breathing before anything else. It’s a big skill, and it’s also important to feel confident with that before you start to push yourself. I used to swim A LOT when I was younger, but don’t have easy access to a pool now. I could get to one though, if I wanted. So maybe this is the compromise position for me. Not running, but no yoga either.. 😀

    Sounds like you’ve had a great week with the new routine anyway.

    Happy Friday!

  4. February 25, 2011 9:59 am

    Sounds like a great plan with the swimming: it took me ages to build up to proper technique and manage to do a decent number of lengths, far longer than it did to progress with my running. An hour is a bit much for me though as I get really bored with swimming after about 45 minutes. I tend to go by distance as opposed to time.


  5. February 25, 2011 10:43 am

    Good idea on the swimming- getting the technique is so important.
    Those refried beans sound lovely – I only ever use tinned pulses- I can’t see anything wrong with it!

  6. February 25, 2011 8:38 pm

    Hubby trained working on his technique using “TI” or “Total Immersion” technique ….. worth looking it up, I’m yet to use it and still splosh around like a flounder 😉

  7. February 26, 2011 2:47 pm

    Yeah refreied beans look gross but taste great. I’ve never made my own though, so well done!

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