Beginners: Week 16

This week will be a little easier—sort of. We're going to throttle back on running and cycling (cycling will get serious attention next week), but we're going to put the pedal to the mettle in the pool.

After this week you'll feel like you're 15% chlorine by volume, but you'll be swimming like Johnny Weissmuller. We're going to super-compensate again—remember what that's about?—but we're going to do it in the pool.

Swimming is a big fat hassle, until you're good in the pool, and then you can't get enough of it. With me it's like bill-paying. That stack just keeps growing, and I keep ignoring it. It represents pain and unhappiness. Then, when I decide to suck it up and get to it, I gather momentum. By the time the last envelope is licked and I take them all out to the mailbox, I say, "Lemme at 'em! Gimme those bills! I'll pay those sonsabitches right now!" Anyway, swimming's like that.

According to this schedule we're in Week-16, and in less than a month you're going to be very, very ready to do an Olympic distance triathlon, which is, as we all know, 1.5km swimming (about a mile); 40km biking (about 25 miles); and 10km running (about six miles). We've really only got one more week that has any difficulty to it, and that's next week. This week we're going to get you very, very ready for that swim.

Swimming is the easiest leg of the triathlon, and when I say easy, I mean by far it's the easiest. It's pie. It's buttah. It's just the warm-up to the race. But, that's the case if you've been doing triathlons for awhile. If you're new to the sport—especially if you're also new to swimming—it's the scariest part, because swimming is the thing most of us didn't do when we were growing up. We rode our bikes, we ran around a bit, but did we swim? The odds say no.

So, we're going to write the checks and stuff the envelopes and lick the stamps almost every day, and sometimes twice-a-day, during this whole week. By the time you're done you'll have paid so many bills you'll feel like Warren Buffett (well, Buffett's wallet, yes, but against Weissmuller's hindquarters). In so doing we'll hope to lessen any fear of the water you may have.

You're on a master's swim team. Or you're not. No matter. Your job is to call up your pool and find out every minute of every day the pool is open for "adult lap swim." You may have to visit 2 or even 3 pools this week to get all your swimming in. You're going to swim in the mornings at 6AM. You're going to swim again at lunch, or after work. You may feel like doing an open-water swim. So much the better. (But drag a partner with you, or go where there's a lifeguard, and tell the lifeguard to keep a watch on you, and swim relatively close to shore).

You don't have to swim fast. Better if you don't, because we want your arms to survive this week, and I certainly don't want this week to be the proximate cause of a shoulder muscle strain. So warm up gently during each swim, and the mission here is to get in the yards, not to get them in fast.