I'm afraid we're going to have to put you under for this.

The Online Journal of Writer Kate Sykes

A Natural Advantage

When Ben hands me the kickboard again, I’m pretty sure I’m being sent back to remedial kicking lessons, but he tells me not to worry. “Swimming is really hard. Even marathon runners have a hard time with it.”

This doesn’t inspire much confidence. I used to run for fitness—never very far, or very fast, and I’m pretty much in awe of elite runners. If someone like that struggles with learning how to swim, how can a jogger like me ever hope to master it? It’s not like I can just swim slower; I’ll sink!

Perhaps seeing the look on my face, he explains that when we run or ride a bike, our bodies automatically regulate our breathing. We don’t have to think about it. We just take in as much air as we need. But underwater, since we don’t have the luxury of breathing whenever we want to, we have to regulate it ourselves.

“Most women are comfortable breathing every third, fourth—or even every fifth stroke,” he says. “Men usually can’t go more than four.”

This fact surprises me. I would have assumed that, being larger, men have greater lung capacity. “Why is that?” I ask.

He shrugs, “Men just can’t hold their breath.”

Well, that explains a lot.

It also makes me feel like I might have a natural advantage, however slight, and gives me just the boost I need. “All right,” I say. “What’s next?”

“We need to find where you’re most comfortable.” He tells me to hold the kickboard out in front of me and keep kicking, while keeping my face in the water. “Count like you’re taking strokes with your arms, and when you get to three, take a stroke and breathe.”

When I do this, I discover that just having the kickboard in front of me provides enough buoyancy to breathe on my weaker side without sucking in water.

One-two-breathe. One-two-breathe. One-two-breathe.

I make it all the way down to the end of the lane without stopping.

Ben is waiting for me, with a great big smile. “That looked great! How did it feel?”

I can honestly say it felt good—not like drowning. In fact, not scary at all.

“Awesome!” He says and gives me two thumbs up. “We’ll have you swimming laps in no time.”

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3 comments on “A Natural Advantage

  1. aregularcupofjo
    May 25, 2013

    I heard swimming is one of the best exercises to do for your body. I know a lot of athletes that do it to get an advantage on their competition. Great post and keep up the hard work :)

    • Kate Sykes
      May 25, 2013

      Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      • aregularcupofjo
        May 26, 2013

        You’re very welcome. If you want to read some inspirational and motivational stories, you are more than welcome to stop by and have a Cup of Joe :)

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This entry was posted on May 25, 2013 by in Reflections from the Pool, The Online Journal of Writer Kate Sykes and tagged , , .
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