The Olympic Athlete

April 21, 2010

Nerd alert!!!

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Two days of total body rest and I was ready to get going again. But nothing hard on the leg. Just some good old swimming.

I’m actually a pretty strong swimmer. Was a lifeguard in college and did really well on the swim time tests. My stokes aren’t fine-tuned, but I can go pretty hard and fast.

I dislike swimming for a lot of reasons:

  • Getting wet (hate it!)
  • Coldness
  • The fact that it takes as long to get in and out of the pool and packed and showered as it does to swim
  • The lack of entertainment (magazines, iPod, people, TVs)
  • The wall flip (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit my head on the bottom!)
  • Getting water in my ears (inevitably happens)
  • Being indoors
  • The challenge of getting out of breath
  • Bathing suits (are they EVER fun to put on and take off!?)
  • Washing an extra towel
  • How I look in a swim cap. Nuff said.

HOWEVER, it IS good exercise and you gotta do what you gotta do! If you can’t run or bike or walk, then you must learn to like swimming. Hopefully I won’t have to do it as my only exercise, but I can assure you that if it was the only exercise I could do I would learn to LOVE swimming.

So today I pretended I was an Olympic athlete. I dusted off my $5 Target goggles. I made a mock sport suit with some black simple bathing suit bottoms and a purple sports bra that looks just like a sport bathing suit top (you really couldn’t tell that it wasn’t a suit, but I do need a one piece because I won’t comment on what happened every time I pushed away from the wall…)  I packed my bag and towel. Played grown-up in the locker room. And I swam for about 35 minutes.

The first 20 minutes were steady and boring. I decided that I needed to challenge myself with some sets of something so I did 4 lengths of the pool and tried to beat my time 4x in a row. I believe my pool is 25M, so I was doing 100M in 2 minutes. Does that sound right?

If anyone has any time challenges for me as a beginning strong swimmer, please share!

Before I got in the pool I also did 15 minutes of core work and weights for my arms. My arms didn’t seem to notice the weights before swimming that much. Not sure how tired I was at all after the workout – another reason why I need a drill to do!

I showered at the Y so I’d be all ready for dinner when I got home. My eyes looked awful from the goggles and smeared eyeliner!

My LEG felt great. I think the water and gentle kicking movement was therapeutic!


I came home to a house full of split pea soup smell!

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Topped with Frank’s Red Hot and Garlic Gold!! This stuff goes well on everything. (The coupon is still good all week = GarlicGold)

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Matt was instructed to throw a pound of split peas into the crock pot with a quart of chicken broth, carrots, celery, herbs and spices and the result was the creamiest pea soup I’ve ever had! I did have to stir it several times and move it from high to low quickly. Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe instructions because Matt is already up in bed, but the recipe linked above is our go-to one with bacon (which you can omit) and the ingredients are about the same. Just put in crock pot and turn to high for several hours.

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Served with a slice of 9 Grain Toast

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Spread with a thin slice of real butter

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After dinner we watched GLEE. Very disappointing. Will I horrify you if I say I really don’t like Madonna’s music? At least not for a show choir. I’m on Puck’s side! One Madonna song (Like A Prayer) would have been awesome. 10x was not fun to watch. More variety please.

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{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy @ The adventures of a ginger grad student April 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I hear you on the not really liking swimming, but since I want to do a triathlon I’m learning to love it! Although I’m really slow and am just starting to be able to do multiple lengths without getting out of breath. Luckily I have 11 weeks before the sprint triathlon so that’s lots of time to improve my swimming. I’m glad your leg felt better, I’m currently having knee issue so the pool has become my friend. Though I think the knee is finally on the mend :)


2 Daniel April 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I’ll be honest, I never really learned how to swim… =\
I can stay above water and what not but I really don’t know proper stroke techniques or anything like that. But regardless, I totally agree with most, if not all of you points about the cons of swimming. Nice looking dinner, I might have to make some of that soup soon! :)


3 Cyclist Kate April 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm

It typically takes me exactly 30 seconds to do 25 meters, so yep, 2 minutes for 100m sounds right. What I like to do is do a 200-400m warm-up, then mix it up with kicking, pulling, different strokes, etc. I bet you could find some more specific workouts online! Speedwork is fun–I like to do things like do 25m on 30s, so I’m swimming 25 meters every 30 seconds (this can be bumped up to 50m on the minute, etc.). If I can swim it in 28 seconds, I get 2 seconds of rest before I leave again. Mostly I just focus on distance (say, swim 1200m) and do things to mix the laps up to prevent boredom.

Also, swimming has helped me take my bike-ride times waaaay down. Like going from taking 1:55 to bike 27 miles to doing it in 1:40. This is with ONLY swimming and doing Pilates! Swimming is great!


4 Jess April 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Nu Dolphin underwater mp3 player. Hooks onto your goggles, you barely feel it, and it sounds clear as day. it also keeps water from getting into your ears. It was worth every dollar I spent. I found mine at


5 Rae April 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

I use freestyle mp3….about 80 bucks online, you can also plug into any normal headphones for running…amazing!!


6 Penny (Wannabe VEGGIEtarian) April 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

1. I am 27 years old and can not swim. At all. I’m scared. :-(

2. I do not like Madonna either,

That’s all. :-)


7 Kath April 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm
8 Ann @ Appalachian Appetites April 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I agree with you on the frustrations of going to the gym to go swimming. I always gaze at the pool as I’m working out and think I should do it…but, like you, have no good swimsuit. Maybe if I buy one, it’ll force me to jump in?! :)


9 [email protected]:// April 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Sounds like you had a fashion disaster in the pool, yikes. At least you were able to get some form of exercise in. A change of pace is probably a good thing.


10 Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I love swimming! I’m by no means a professional but used to swim when I was a kid and in high school. I go from time to time now, but I usually do 40-45 minutes just of freestyle laps. I agree with the pain of getting changed and lack of stimulation, but I am always amazed by how hard my heart is beating when I’m done. Getting the sweat washed right off me makes me sort of forget I’m doing hardcore cardio!


11 Melissa April 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Oh my gosh Kath! I totally expected to hear that you were training for a triathlon when I saw you in that swim cap. You should you know. I bet you’d be great at it. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and love all your healthy food ideas. I made your “better than fried okra” tonight and it was so good.


12 Kath April 21, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I think I need a bike that doesn’t collapse first. Perhaps after we move?


13 Lindsay April 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Might not be practical for you if you don’t swim often, but I have a nifty little tool called an Otter Box for my iPod plus waterproof headphones. I always get bored too and that little guy has saved my workout more than once!


14 Marla April 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Love Madonna I have to say!
Especially growing up in the 80’s with her everchanging styles-
definitely a fan!


15 Wendy April 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I used to be a good swimmer when I was a kid and taking regular lessons. But then I didn’t really swim much after that. I’ve taken an adult refresher course, but now I just can’t get the breathing right. I was told that it’s because I’m used to running and the breathing rhythm is way different. I would just like to be able to swim one length of the pool without inhaling water! Any tips? It’s really frustrating.

That soup looks yummy!


16 Lu April 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

Exhale while still in the water. When you turn your head to the side, all you have to do is inhale. Just practice. Some people can get better results doing rotary breathing (breath every 3 strokes, so breath to left, two stroke and breath to right on thrid, repeat). Others fare better with picking just one side and breathing every 4 strokes. Good luck!


17 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is April 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I love Madonna’s music for working out and jamming in my PJ’s, but it was tough on Glee!


18 Christina April 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Wow that’s a long list of reasons not to like swimming. I agree with most of them but luckily I have an outdoor pool so hot days are good motivation to swim some laps :)


19 Food Makes Fun Fuel April 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I hate swimming for a lot of the same reasons, but I am not willing to start loving it–nope, not me


20 Clearly Composed April 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Oh, oh, oh…Like a Prayer was the finale song and it was sooooooooo great. Unfortunately, from what I have heard, Idol ran late and people who DVR didn’t get it. It’s online to watch now so I hope you get to see it. It really was fabulous.(try here… Yay for swimming…even if I am a scaredy girl who refuses to dive. *lol*


21 Wei-Wei April 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I totally agree about the swimming – it’s so frustrating! I wish it could be like walking as a sport; 1) put on shoes, 2) get out the door!

But swimming? Noooo, it has to be: 1) GO to the pool, 2) get registered and get towel, 3) get changed
4) lurk around the swimming pool, afraid of the cold, 4) swim, 5) get out and die from the cold, 6) shower, 7) get changed, 8) go home!

A trip to the pool takes at least 1.5 hours for me. :@ but at least it’s summer so I’ll enjoy swimming more! :)



22 Kelly April 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

It must be split pea soup week! I just posted my own version a few days ago AND another blog I follow just posted on yesterday. I only follow like 15ish blogs, so that’s quite a coincidence.


23 Rachel April 22, 2010 at 8:04 am

I don’t blog but I also made split pea soup this week, for the first time. We must be getting subliminal messages from somewhere.


24 Mary April 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I have been a swimmer since I was little and have recently gotten back into it since breaking my L1 vertebrae and my right leg almost 10 months ago since it is so low impact. I always start with a 400 m warm up of freestyle. Then I try to mix my workouts up by doing 50 m SKPS (swim, kick, pull, swim) in different strokes and also mixing sprints in short intervals. I also embrace the sound of being under water and just let my mind go blank. I find it the most relaxing workout ever! I hope this helps!! I really enjoy reading your blog!


25 Jenny April 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I think you look pretty darn cute in a swim cap! And you’re right, no one likes changing in and out of a bathing suit- especially out of a wet one!


26 Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies April 21, 2010 at 8:16 pm

That soup sounds delicious. I miss getting in the pool – but alas no gym membership and I can’t even think of a place around here that has a pool!


27 Amanda April 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I swam all four years of high school, and dominated the freestyle stroke. I haven’t been able to swim this year (in college) because my university’s pool has been closed for renovations – bummer. In high school we always started out with a 500 meter warm up (20 laps) at a moderate pace. Then we did a combination of things, sometimes the routine was dominated by distance (my favorite), other times we did sprints (laps in 30 seconds, like another commenter mentioned) Other times we did a combo of distance and sprints and broke the two up with 500 meters of pulls (using your arms only) and kicks with either the use of a kick board (I’ve seen them at Target), or you can just extend your arms over your head as you would prior to a dive and plant your face in the water as you kick. For both kicks and pulls you can alternate your stroke/ kick (freestyle, breast-stroke, back-stroke, butterfly). Butterfly was my favorite for kicks, but my butterfly stroke wasn’t the greatest.

As for a challenge, try doing 500 meters in 10-12 (or less if you can) minutes. Or do a 100 of each stroke with a minute-minute and thirty seconds rest in between each 100.

Man, I miss swimming!


28 Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I’m not a huge fan of swimming either. I get wayyyy to bored and I’m not a fan of reeking of chlorine.

But I am a huge fan of acting like I am an Olympic athlete. For some reason I suddenly feel stronger and push myself even harder during my work outs.


29 [email protected] April 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I’ve been meaning to do some swimming… I need some variety in my exercise life :-)
hooray for husbands who cook!


30 Abby April 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Nice goggles!! I really want to get into swimming! Unfortunately I need to find a pool!


31 Heather April 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

those are all great reasons not to swim, that’s why I don’t do it haha!


32 Lindsay April 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

If you wanted a distance challenge-type of workout, you could try a ladder starting with 100m and then increasing in distance by additional 100m increments until you reach 500 and then come back down to 100m. So you would do your warmup (usually in high school, we did a leisurely 500m), and then you would start the workout off with a moderate 100m. Rest (no longer than 30 sec probably). Then 200m. Rest. 300m and so on and so forth until you’re all the way back down to 100m. Just a warning, this workout takes a while. That’s my biggest complaint about swimming: to get in a good workout takes forever and a year. Our swimteam workouts in high school were always 2 hrs whereas a solid run can take only 45 minutes.


33 Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm

It’s perfect soup weather — I was craving a big cup for lunch while watching the rain pour down outside. Very comforting.


34 Sara @ April 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I LOVE swimming – it’s funny how people have different exercise preferences. An hour goes by MUCH faster when I swim compared to when I run and I think running is much more boring than swimming. Overall I love both, but if I had to pick, I’d definitely go with swimming, although it can be a hassle (I don’t do it much because I hate to lug all my swim gear around campus). Anyways, you should try pulling and kickboarding – I always through some sets of alternating kickboarding and pulling. To me, you need sets and intervals to keep swimming interesting – it’s definitely boring when you just do freestyle for half an hour straight. I love doing 16×50’s, the first 25 = any stroke but freestyle and the second 25 = freestyle. Usually I just do the first 25’s in IM order (fly,back,breast,free). Hope that helps!

Also, when you take yogurt for lunch, do you store it in a refrigerator or is it sitting in your bag until lunch? I only ask because I’d love to take yogurt as part of my lunch, but I don’t have any way to keep it cold from 9:45 to 12.


35 Deva (Voracious Vorilee) April 21, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I am not Kath, but when I pack yogurt, I have some huge ice packs that I keep it on in my lunch bag. It keeps it cold enough (for me) and it’s still yummy :-)


36 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:34 am

I take my lunch out at 8 and eat at noon and just let me yogurt come to room temp. I’ve never had a problem with this..


37 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) April 21, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Ugh, I am with you on the swimming. I think I did to much of it as a kid. I hate being wet and cold! I would have to find something to do though, so I would probably tolerate it if I had to. Enjoy your evening!


38 Katherine April 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

you’re missing a swimming nose-plug!


39 Kailey (SnackFace) April 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

THANK YOU for the Glee confession. I adore the show, but I’m not into gimmicky, themed episodes. It’s not the Glee I know and love!

I loved swimming so much when I was younger that I legit had lime green hair. Now I can’t even remember the last time I went swimming. How sad!


40 Claire April 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I am definitely with you on swimming, as well. Once in high school I got sick after gym class from swimming so early in the morning. I actually don’t mind water running though with those belts…I did this when injured in high school and college cross country. I don’t know how I would feel about doing this at my gym though…maybe I should try it.

I just bought some split peas yesterday, so excited to make some delicious soup!


41 Jenn (www. ) April 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I haven’t been swimming in like 20 years LOL. Love it though!

That soup + bread combo looks like a winner, especially on a cloudy day. :)



42 Laura April 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I’ve been a swimmer all throughout highschool, but just recently began swimming for fun here at college. Since swimming works every muscle in your body (it’s true!) I heard that swimming one mile is equivalent to running 4. A mile is a 1650yards, or about 1500 meters. So if you want to challenge yourself, try swimming in terms of miles, which 1 mile = 60 laps.

Once you build up your stamina, you can try doing 50’s of sprints on 1:30. (We do 60sec but thats a yard pool).

I hope you learn to love swimming as much as I do! It truly is an amazing sport!


43 Diana April 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I didn’t know you were a swimmer! Have you ever thought of doing a triathlon? I bet you’d be awesome! :)


44 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:35 am

Well I don’t know if I can call myself “a swimmer”… :)

Matt is interested in a TRI for the biking part, so we might do one together sometime.


45 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:35 am

But I really need a REAL bike first. I’d be embarrassed to do it on my folding bike!


46 jackie April 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

If you don’t love swimming and have a hard time getting a great cardio workout, I recommend joining a masters swim class. It’s basically swim practice for adults. I’ve been doing it for a few years and it’s one of the best workouts ever!


47 Lisa April 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I’m sorry you dislike swimming! I love it!
* The wall flip….I don’t always do the wall flip. Who cares? It’s not required. Just swim!
* Getting water in my ears….do you use ear plugs? I wear earplugs and never have a problem.

Hope you grow to like it!


48 Jessica @ The Process of Healing April 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I actually REALLY love swimming but I’m terrible at it. And I haven’t done it much because of my injury but it’s one of the first things I want to try out when I can swim again. You must be in amazing shape though because it absolutely wore me out!


49 Elyssa April 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I’ve never liked swimming either…yet somehow my sister swims for her college! Not sure how that love got left out of my genes.

I’m with you on Glee: just wasn’t as amazing as usual. And sorry to disappoint, but I read that the producers are in talks to do another Madonna episode. Eek!


50 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

OHhhh noooo…

Is Madonna sponsoring the show!?!


51 jenna April 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm

i love how the weather is getting nice out so you can take your foodie pics outside! they are so beautifullll 😉


52 Amber K April 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I’m with you on Glee. Definitely need more variety!


53 steph-exercise physiologist and artist! April 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Swimming with a kick-board is Ah-Mazing!! don’t know how hard it would be on your leg but I love it!

there is a whole chapter in one of my exercise physiology books on the form and technique of different sports. I would be happy to scan in the swimming area for you. Email me if you are interested since for some reason I am never alerted to responses on here.

Love Love Love the goggle and swim cap pic! haha!


54 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

Thanks Steph! I think I have OK form – looking more for workout routines.


55 Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] April 21, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I swam competitively for 6 years. It was a love hate relationship. Then I stopped cold turkey and switched to running. I need to dust off my cap and goggles; I think my body is screaming for low-impact x-training.

P.S. Your t-shirt excites me — Chicago 2010!


56 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:37 am

Haha – woo hoo!


57 Tara @ Food for Fuel April 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm

This is not about swimming, but it is about GLEE! I absolutely LOVE the show but have been really disappointed with the last two episodes…they’ve changed the characters up a little bit as far as their personalities and makes it kind of awkward. Also, not impressed with all of the Madonna songs and only liked a few of them from last week’s episode. Excited for next week though…I’m sure it’s on it’s way up!


58 haya April 22, 2010 at 4:19 am

i feel exactly the same way!!! i stopped watching right before the sectionals ep, which i didn’t see until two days ago. then the next day i watched last week’s ep and it was like i was watching two different shows! not sure i’ll continue.

re: swimming. life is too short to do things you don’t really like. i’ve been swimming every friday morning before work for the last 3 months or so and i absolutely love it. it’s relaxing and yet kind of a good workout at the same time if you push yourself hard enough. i’ve been thinking about joining masters, but i think i might still be too slow!


59 Ida April 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

i’m not a huge swim fan either, but it is a good workout, and it is really good for recovery. sometimes i swim the day after a long run just to flush my legs out. i always feel better afterwards.


60 Camille April 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I really liked Glee last night but it made me realize that I don’t know too many Madonna songs.
Like A Prayer definitely stole the show!
There is also one that wasn’t in the episode but you can find on iTunes called “Burning Up” that is really good too!


61 lynn (The Actors Diet) April 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

i gave up on glee but i taped last night’s episode b/c i love madonna. will be interesting to see!


62 Eileen April 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I wish I could make myself like swimming. I’ll second the idea of a masters’ swim class, though … some friends are doing one at our local Y, and have gotten a lot out of it.

I DID love the musical numbers on “Glee” last night, esp. the Cheerios’ numbers. But I agree with the poster above who felt the last two episodes were lacking something. I’m finding the storylines a little repetitive.


63 Carolyn @ lovinlosing April 21, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I need to learn ALL about swimming b/c I want to do a sprint triathlon in July. Time to hit up my local Y for swim lessons.


64 MelanieF April 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I actually like Madonna, being a kid who grew up listening to her music in the 80’s and early 90’s. But, I agree that the last 2 episodes of Glee weren’t their best. I hope it gets better.


65 Heather (Sugar & Spice) April 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

The split pea soup looks amazing – I have soup on the mind for sure.
I hope you do learn to love swimming! It is one of my favorite activities, it’s super great for your body – a great break for the knees of runners (my knees thank me every time I swim instead of run!)


66 Megan April 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I feel the same way about swimming. It’s funny, I was on the swim team as a kid and loved it then. I wonder what happened to my love of it? Anyhow, it has been my only form of exercise due to an injury and I still can’t stand doing. I do about 20 minutes and then I can’t handle it anymore. Kudos to you for getting out there though. It’s not always about how much it’s just about doing something.


67 Cynthia (It All Changes) April 21, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I’m not a big fan of swimming either. I did it when my back was bad because it was the only thing I could do. But I don’t enjoy the smell of chlorine AT ALL!


68 Lisa @bakebikeblog April 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Great work on the swim – although I did have to chuckle – your list for not liking swimming is pretty much the same as mine. If only you coudl swim and not get wet hey?!


69 Gena April 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I’m also not a huge Madonna fan. (Shields herself from rotten tomatoes.) Lame episode! But fun show.


70 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:37 am

Rotten tomatoes – hahah!!


71 Andrea (Tastebud Approved) April 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Glad I’m not the only one who has a list of dislikes for swimming.


72 Katie April 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I am struggling with nerve problems and have not been able to run, walk more than a couple blocks a time, bike or even do situps for 9 months! The one thing I can do is swim, and as an admitted exercise freak, I have grown to LOVE it! Always be thankful that you can at least do some form of exercise even if it isn’t the one you love the best!



73 Katie April 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm

ps – I was wondering if you have a contact e-mail. I would love to ask you a couple of questions to get some motivation on dealing with injuries/disability!


74 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:37 am

Hey Katie,
I really don’t have the time to answer personal emails right now during my internship. Sorry about that !


75 Katie April 22, 2010 at 10:44 am

Oh I understand, thats what I figured! I think I already asked my question when you asked for suggestions on a post about running anyway 😉


76 Ashley April 21, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I am LOVING swimming!!! Time goes by much faster swimming than ANY other form of cardio for me. It’s amazing. Once I get in the groove, about 500-750m I feel like I can just keep going + going. I had goggles from years ago that I was using at first, and they KILLed my face…they were adjusted fine but bruised my nose. I bought a pair of TYR and love them. I’m used to cardio without music so that part doesn’t bother me :) I don’t think about anything while I’m swimming really, because I am trying to keep count of the laps!! I am just about to post tonight, about I’m actually glad that my foot is injured..well not glad that it’s hurt but glad that it has led me to really get into other things, like swimming + road biking. The only part of swimming I don’t like is the wetness afterwards. I HATE the slimy locker room floor, blegh! But I just quickly throw on clothes after a shower to rinse off the chlorine [suit on] and towel dry and then book it home to take a real shower + change. My workout the other day was awesome!! 250 – kickboard 250 – buoy swim 250 – breast stroke 250 – backstroke 650 – freestyle – The first 2 sets were the hardest! Okaaaay, done writing a book :)


77 kate April 21, 2010 at 11:18 pm

lifeguarding is the best college job :) i have a whole page about swimming on my blog and a post about designing your own swim workout if you want to check it out!


78 Sam April 21, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I love swimming but I’m sure that has to do with my level of comfort with it after many years of competitive swimming. I love to run, too, but for some reason my very best post-workout highs come from swimming (maybe it’s the chlorine). I hear you on loving what you *can* do – I’ve been laid off running for the last four weeks and have really appreciated what I am able to do.

Kath, if you have any problems with your goggles leaking, you might find it helpful to raise your goggle strap slightly in the back. That may be a little more comfortable also. If there are two straps, you can stagger them – one high, one low. Good job with the cap – I think we have the same one. The summer I started swimming I wore my cap sideways. :)

It does take practice to get the breathing right. It helps to think of it as a constant – just as you are constantly breathing out of the water, so does your “breathing” happen in the pool. Take a breath, then steadily release it through your nose, spreading it out over a couple of strokes. Take another breath and again release it steadily underwater as you take a few strokes (breathe, out-two-three-four; breathe, out-two-three-four). You’ll develop a rhythm with your breathing and strokes and it’ll help regulate your pulse a bit.

My favorite inexpensive swim suits are Dolfin Uglies on They’re under $30. Just search for the brand. Order one size bigger than you think you would need on the sizing chart. I like them so much because they last a while and the coverage of the material is generous for a racing suit without looking grannyish.


79 Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear April 22, 2010 at 12:36 am

I like Madonna, I saw her LIVE last summer in Helsinki and it was awesome. Swimming is not my thing, I do it occassionally when I’m on holiday at a beach resort but real, sporty swimming?! NEVER 😀


80 Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 22, 2010 at 1:56 am

I can see why you hate swimming, all that stuff is a drag! I really enjoy it though – the worst part for me is the pool being a 15min drive away! If it wasn’t I’d be swimming all the time 😀


81 Hannah April 22, 2010 at 2:28 am

What about if you can’t run/go to the gym/etc because you have a bung toe, and can’t swim because getting it wet makes it worse? :( (I have had a very non-excerisiey past six months. It’s awful).

But I think I’ll go home and add a lot of tabasco to some soup and pretend I’m you for half an hour 😀


82 Rachel (Suburban Yogini) April 22, 2010 at 4:43 am

Apart from Into the Groove (because it’s off Desperately Seeking Susan which is one of my all time favourite films) I’m not a fan of Madonna at all.

You must only be a week behind us here then because it’s Madonna for us next week. Last night we saw the “Hello” one (with one of my favourite Beatles songs!!)


83 Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun) April 22, 2010 at 5:27 am

I love swimming, It’s easily one of the most revitalizing and refreshing forms of exercise out there. The only thing I hate about it is the chlorine in pools. It turns my hair green, and completely irritates my sensitive skin.


84 Kath April 22, 2010 at 5:34 am

Thanks for all the swim tips!!! I have trouble getting out of breath (I must be in good shape?) so I think the timed sets will help!


85 Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) April 22, 2010 at 5:37 am

I didn’t know you were so good at swimming…is there a tri in your near future? 😉

I would love to take up swimming for the sole fact that, like you said, it is *such* good exercise! I’m not very good at it, but practice makes perfect. 😀


86 Wendy April 22, 2010 at 6:45 am

I remembered looking at this website back when I was injured and trying to get into swimming (which never happened). It’s free to register, and it generates personalized swim workouts for you based on your goals:


87 Simply Life April 22, 2010 at 6:47 am

way to go! I hurt my ankle last year so spent about 3-4 weeks swimming and found it was a great new exercise to really get my lungs going! :)


88 Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope April 22, 2010 at 6:50 am

I’m with you that swimming is NOT my favorite activity, but it sounds like you ended up having a great time! It’s definitely worth it to try out new workouts!


89 BB April 22, 2010 at 7:02 am

I swam competitively many a year ago and taught swimming classes at the YMCA all through college. Have you tried any technique drills? They are nice to break up long swimming sets. Thumb drag drill is where you drag your thumb up your side all the way to your arm pit with each front crawl stroke. It works your shoulders and helps improve your arm extension. Catch up drill is where you keep one arm extended straight out while you do the underwater pull and bring it back around over the water to “catch up” before switch sides and do the other arm. That one is good to work on streamlining your body in the water.

If you really want a challenge, try over-unders. Do on length at a very easy pace, lots of breathing, nice and slow and then on the way back try to make it the whole way with out breathing, swimming underwater. It is fun to see how your lung capacity improves with practice.


90 Coreen April 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

I love swimming! Here’s the secret to getting out of breath, I used to hate doing this at swim practice, (but it works) you do freestyle and increase the number of strokes between breaths. Do 50m sets, without rest in 300m blocks. Start with 50m x regular, then 50m x breathe every 5 strokes, 50m x every 7 strokes, 50m x every 9, 50m x 7, 50m x 5, 50m x regular. Rest and repeat! If you alternate this with a speed set you should be out of breath and if not, learn butterfly! Also, keep your rest between sets short, 60 seconds is a lot of rest… do you take random minute breaks on a 10k?! Hope that helps.
P.S I found your blog about a month ago and have been following regularly- love it!
P.P.S I hate flip turns too, but they can help you get out of breath because you can’t breathe during and you should do 3 strokes before your first breath off the wall.


91 Kath April 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

That’s a good idea to get me out of breath. I never take breaks! I could swim for an hour without stopping. But when I go really fast, my muscles wear out before my breath picks up. But perhaps I’m breathing too frequently – usually every 3-4th stroke?


92 Meg @ Be Fit Be Full April 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

Hi Kath – I swam a ton last summer in a 20 meter outdoor pool (at our apt. complex) and have all my pool workouts listed here –
If you’re interested!
Can’t wait for the weather to get warmer so I can start swimming again. Especially since I can’t run at the moment :(


93 Joanne April 22, 2010 at 8:48 am

You are so lucky being a strong swimmer. Really wish I could get into swimming because I’d love to give a triathlon a go. It seems every stroke I attempt always results in a doggy paddle. :(


94 Kyle April 22, 2010 at 9:40 am is supposed to have a great system for waterproof iPod cases and waterproof headphones. Michael Phelps approved (so they promote). Maybe you could get them to send you a trial pair for a review. That would be awesome, as I would love to know if they’re worth the money.


95 Sara April 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

I LOVE swimming. I wish we had a membership somewhere with a pool. I always challenge myself with how long I can hold my breath and swim. My record (while I was on a swim team over 10 years ago) was 2 lengths. That would definitely help with the not getting out of breath problem!! 😀


96 Kelly April 22, 2010 at 9:53 am

When I get the chance to swim I do an aerobic type routine in addition to straight swimming. Its easier in deep water but if you can get in an area where you can just barely touch its still doable. You alternate activities like keeping yourself up with just arm punches or arms out straight to the side and make fast circles to keep your self up. Or keep your arms above your head out of the water and keep yourself up with just your legs. These activities are more likely to make you breathless and tired.


97 Jen April 22, 2010 at 10:08 am

I personally LOVE swimming. It’s the only activity where I actually like the complete silence.

Couple of things. If you’re having trouble breathing definitely exhale completely while your face is in the water then come up for a breath. If it’s that you don’t feel like it’s a good enough workout then try sprints — if you’re really sprinting you’ll get out of breath.

And, if you don’t like doing flip turns — don’t do them. There’s no rule saying you can’t just grab on to the side and turn around. Obviously, it’s not the quickest or most efficient but it still gets you where you want to go.

My trick if I’m getting bored is to mix up strokes (100 freestyle, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly) or use the kickboards and buoys if your gym has them. My Y is where the high school practices so we have use of those during normal lap times. Breaks up the workout a little and helps your legs and arms get stronger.


98 Julia C April 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

May I suggest something like this:

I have a pair similar to these and while I haven’t swam in a long time… I loved swimming with them!


99 Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble April 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

I haven’t swam laps in years. Mainly because I’m lazy and say, well if I go swimming, I’ll definitely have to wash my hair. That’s a true confession. I only wash my hair once, maybe twice a week. I don’t sweat all that much at the gym and unless I run 8 miles with a cap on, I can get by several days without washing. I kind of plan all workouts around the washing of the hair. :-)


100 Liz April 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

Hi Kath,
It’s so funny you brought up swimming because just yesterday when I was reading your blog I was wondering if you were going to ever dive (pun intended!) into swimming. I think you’d be great at a tri!

I’ve been a competitive swimmer for over 13 overs and have coached swimming for the last 10 years. I actually recently started my own company called Swimcation,, which is an active vacation option for swimmers and triathletes.

My advice for starting out with swimming is to focus on kicking. If you don’t have a strong kick you won’t be a strong swimmer. Start out with 4 x 50 yards (or meters) kick and go as follows:
#1 – 25 yards easy, 25 yards fast
#2 – 25 yards fast, 25 yards easy
#3 – All fast (your legs should be on fire!)
#4 – All easy
Rest no more than 15 seconds in between each 50 yards. Work your way up to 2 or 3 rounds of this. You can also do this type of set with full stroke swimming. Let me know if you’d like any other swimming tips as I’d be happy to write some up or even a starter workout for you!
P.S. Definitely invest in a quality suit — I like TYR, Speedo, and Nike best. They are pricey, but you can get some great deals at and it’ll make a huge difference because you won’t be constantly tugging at your suit. If you are looking for some crazy suits to add to your swim gear is my fav! There is even a NERD ALERT suit haha!


101 Diana @ frontyardfoodie April 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

Way to work the pool! I was a competitive swimmer in highschool and it was a really great experience. I’m in love with swimming but you’re right, it does take longer to get in and out of the gym and also kind of a hassle but hey, it feels good!



102 L April 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

I can give you endless workouts/ideas for the pool! 2 minutes sounds just right for a fairly new swimmer doing 100 meters. An idea for your next workout:
-500 meter warmup. nice and easy, work on your form (like keeping head down, breathing every 3rd or 5th stroke on alternate sides, getting your whole body into the side to side motion of your strokes, and *pulling your arm through the water all the way, almost out even*).
-200 meters drill:: 25 meters only left arm (keep the other one in front, not behind), 25 meters right arm only. 50 meters catch up (where you make your hand touch your other hand in front of you before starting your next stroke). 50 meters zipper (where you drag your fingers up the side of your body for each stroke. 25 meters kicking on your left side. 25 meters kicking on your right side.
-100 meters freestyle swim, easy.
-200 meters kick! (all with kick board) first 50, easy kick. short rest. 2nd 50, first half SPRINT KICK, second half easy kick. short rest. 3rd 50, easy kick. 4th 50, first half SPRINT KICK, 2nd half, easy kick.
-The Challenge. this is the interval/fat burning/hard strengthening part. These times might be wrong, but Im assuming you meant that sprinting the 100 took you 2 minutes. If the times are too easy/hard, adjust them accordingly, just take note of the ratios of rest/work.
6 100’s free sprint on the 2:15. 1st 100, strong. 2nd 100, stronger. 3rd 100, hard as you can go. THEN 4th 100, strong. 5th 100, strongerrr. 6th 100, hard as you can go. (“on the 2:15” means that every 2:15 you start the next 100. So say you start at the top, at the 12, then you will sprint your 100 and probably get back around the top again, and then you will have 15 seconds rest, and you will start your 2nd 100 on the 15…etc)
-4 25’s warm down. nice and eassyyy.
:) have fun!


103 Emily Simpson April 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I have to agree about Glee! I loved last season, but i haven’t been impressed so far this season :(


104 Kath April 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Thanks for all the tips!


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