March has been a bit of a slow month blog wise I am afraid. Circumstances have limited our weekend escapes, work has been busy and there just never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything we would like.
I have managed to rediscover the joy of swimming but finding the time to swim when we also have to find the time to exercise and train two high drive dogs, deal with work and other activities is time management Tetris.
Swimming has been magical. I can’t believe I have waited so long to get back into swimming. I mean I still swam a lot whenever we were at the beach. It did worry me that I no longer felt so confident in the water. I didn’t feel fit and no longer felt like a strong swimmer and that made me feel a bit vulnerable, not that it ever stopped me. The shoulder issue had kind of put a halt to a lot of things I used to do regularly, but swimming was a big one. What on earth was I thinking? I guess time was always an issue and that was one excuse for not swimming. The injury is no longer an excuse!
In the past month I have discovered that while breaststroke is the easiest traditional stroke for me to swim it does still put pressure on the vulnerable joint. I have found that there is one stroke I feel like I can do all day and it is blissfully relaxing. It is a side stroke, something I never really swam a lot before but it is now my stroke of choice. It does have one slight disadvantage in that it does tend to result in a lot of water in ears but still a minor drawback.
I have also discoverer the virtues of swimming with a snorkel, which allows me to comfortably do a one arm freestyle, not the most elegant stroke but the snorkel makes it easy for me to swim with out having to risk the dodgy shoulder and breath in a relaxed manner without having to worry too much about co-ordinating arm movements and breathing. I have been using the left arm for a normal stroke and the right for a sort of weird dog paddle stroke. I am sure a fitness instructor would probably be horrified at my efforts and there is nothing elegant in my swimming these days but it is working for me. The snorkel is not ideal for breathing but it has certainly made it easy for me to work on finding a stroke I can work with and generally getting some strength back where swimming is concerned.
There has been some trial and error. I have experimented with using a kick board. More trouble than it is worth really, but might be useful if I want to target certain elements and muscles. Overall the side stroke and the snorkel have been the best takeaways from my experiments.
I think I was a bit afraid of feeling self conscious about my swimming and that also held me back but now that I have gone back to the pool I will never stop again and I really don’t care how daggy I look. I am loving being back in the water. I look forward to the swim, it is the high point of my days at the moment.
To be honest most of the people swimming when I go tend to be around my age group or older. I have also noticed others working on movement restrictions. The indoor pool is particularly favoured by those looking for gentle exercise. I particularly admire a group of older ladies we have sometimes come across who use one lane in the indoor pool to walk up and down while chatting. I guess instead of meeting for coffee and cake they meet for a stroll up and down the pool while catching up on the gossip, I think I see my future right there.
The slightly surprising thing I have also noticed is the marked impact swimming seems to be having on my mood. I have always been shadowed by the black dog, (depression), I have had periods where it has been absolutely crippling, but in many respects it is the easiest element of mood dysfunction to hide. At the time I started swimming again, I seemed to be in the grips of another bad down swing. I was struggling to stay motivated and functional beyond doing the basics to appear normal and functional. From the first swim I felt good while I was in the water and with each subsequent swim I seemed to be feeling more normal both in the water and out. To the point that the down episode seems to have been averted and I feel pretty normal again. I needed to really push myself that first day and I could so easily have backed out. I enlisted my secret weapon to keep me going at first, G, I told him he was not to let me find any excuse to get out of swimming, thankfully he kept me going and while the shadow may always be hovering, it is being kept at bay for the moment. Could that be due to swimming? My gut feeling is, yes it is making a marked difference but that is something that it is hard to be conclusive about. I will add that I have long been aware that exercise and diet have had a huge influence on my outlook and I while I can’t cite research off the top of my head at he moment I believe the evidence is well established that exercise and diet are powerful weapons in managing mood disorders.
I am curious, anyone have similar experience?