Here in Boulder, even triathletes swim all four strokes in the Master’s workouts. During my time here, I’ve engaged in some serious recon to find the workouts that are suitable for my level of ability [I’m definitely a small fish in a ginormous pool around here!] and my failure to engage in things like flip turns and “strokes”.

As a member of RallySport, I’d arrive a few minutes early and hang out by the sliding glass door between the indoor pool and the outdoor pool–where the workouts transpire. I’d gauge those entering the workout and determine their level of badassery. I mean, Rally is where Rinny and Rafa and many other mega-athletes train. I’ve come to recognize that those that don’t necessarily look like phenomenal athletes, may in fact be world champions [current and/or former]. However, those that look the part, more often than not, are indeed badasses. As recently as Saturday, I’ve looked around, seen the coach, and totally chickened out of the workout. I don’t even belong in that water!

I’ve come to enjoy Austin’s workouts and actively seek those out. He’s a young dude–maybe 24 years old–who attempted to work in a bank, but instead decided to coach swimming professionally. With bleach-blond, shaggy hair, a hipster vibe to his apparel choices, and a laid-back attitude, one would more quickly place him in SoCal over Boulder.

After a few workouts with Austin, I learned what “IM Day” meant–Individual Melody. In other words, Butterfly [WTF?!], Backstroke, Breaststroke AND Freestyle. During the whole workout. Whoa. 

Down in Atlanta, only those that swam in college and/or make a living swimming and/or are lunatics do those things. 

I flopped around supine and somehow made it down the pool feigning backstroke. And breaststroke–at least slowly–is easy [so easy, in fact, one can swim it for an entire 1.2 miles and still make the 70.3 cutoff…] And luckily, Austin didn’t judge me too harshly for trading freestyle for fly, which I utterly refused to attempt. I mean, it’d be a lot of paperwork for everyone to fish my body from the bottom of the pool after I drown during the attempt. And if not drowning, I’m liable to knock out a few unsuspecting souls in the narrow lanes… My butterfly aversion is truly a public service.
And, don’t get me wrong–knowing that Wednesday is IM day, I’ve avoided that workout when possible. But I reluctantly ventured back last week, when my bud Jerome was in town and wanted to swim on that day. 

And I survived [again, no fly]. So I went back the following week. 

During the past couple months, I’d occasionally dabble in other strokes and actually improved at backstroke! I still have a loooong way to go, but I’m not utterly spent after a 50, and I’m starting to understand the pull better. I think, too, it’s helped my freestyle!

Maybe I should go to IM day…

So I returned this morning. Still stubbornly refusing to attempt butterfly, I told my lane mates that I was going to replace it with freestyle [that’s better for Ironman training anyway, I justified to myself. Maybe I’ll learn AFTER Mont-Tremblant. Meh–probably not]. To which Austin and my swim mates replied–C’mon, you can do one arm at a time at least!

Whelp I didn’t try.

Then Austin had us do a set that I actually rather enjoyed. We did 100 IM but the kick was entirely butterfly kick [except backstroke]. Then 100 IM with flutter kick. Then 100 IM with breaststroke kick. And then 100 IM normal.

For once, I actually had an advantage, as it was easy for me to dissociate my arms and my legs since the strokes hadn’t been burned into my muscle memory. And I made myself do the fly kick. And I noticed that freestyle stroke with fly kick actually felt kind of good! And when I switched to freestyle, I think the drill helped me find better rhythm.

The remainder of the workout, I did freestyle stroke with fly kick! That’s a huge step forward for me.

Well, the workout ended and Austin asks, “want to learn butterfly?” While I wanted to respond, nope! Not at all! I said ok. And so he had me kick. Then swim one arm at a time. Then both arms with a couple kicks between. I wish I had filmed it so I could see myself flop around! But it wasn’t that terrible.

Alas, now I have no excuse not to fly. At least one arm at a time…