Practice Makes Perfect

by ashleyd on December 20, 2014

Eight months ago, I decided to put on my big girl pants or ahem swimsuit and join our PG swim team.


Multiple co-workers had suggested I join, noting that the team needed more females and I am evidently considered "sporty" and "athletic" within our office.
The first practice was humbling to say the least. My marathon legs did little to help me in the pool, and I quickly realized just how different the cardio and muscular demands of swimming are versus running or yoga. But, I finished and called Bo immediately after, telling him that I found a new challenge that I hoped to stick with on a weekly basis. While I haven’t made it to every Tuesday or Thursday practice since then due to either travel or lack of wanting to wake up at 5am, I have averaged once per week.

imageSome practices have left me encouraged while others leave me cursing my parents for not signing me up for Summer swim team at an early age. I have also muttered some words regarding American practices versus Europe. In French and Swiss schools swimming is included in gym class and students learn all four strokes in order to pass the test. Really? My first day of practice I was able to complete a lap of freestyle only. Butterfly, breast stroke and backstroke attempts left me sinking to the bottom or moving slower than Yertle the Turtle.


But, regardless of pace, I’m proof that practice makes perfect, though results are slow and steady versus overnight. There are many hour long swim practices that weren’t fun. 500 meters of butterfly followed by 200 of dolphin swims is the last thing my shoulders, abs and 30 year old body want to do but in between the grunts and groan, I started to see the benefits. My traps and shoulders are developed, in between wine, cheese chocolate and the European diet my legs and abs have leaned out and through taking on a new challenge I’ve found confidence. In fact, just a month after joining the swim group, I wrote this post about overcoming my fear of swimming.

imageOn Tuesday when our coach emailed us, promising a Christmas gift at practice on Thursday I was excited versus nervous. A 5000 meter swim challenge wouldn’t be easy but it was a perfect opportunity to test my ability. In fact, instead of deleting the email immediately out of fear, I emailed my swimming buddy, Laurianne, suggesting that we use the practice not to reach 5000 meters but instead to see how much of the prescribed workout we could during the hour and a half session.


Ninety minutes after diving in the pool, Laurianne and I exited smiling and feeling on top of the world. My body was sore, and while we didn’t achieve the 5,000 meter goal many of our colleagues achieved, we swam for 90 minutes and each finished 3,200 meters. This distance was not only a personal distance record for both of us but also a huge confidence builder. Now and then we all need something to remind us that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. A year ago, I never would have thought that I would gain this reminder from swimming. This has me so motivated that instead of just packing running gear for our two-week holiday in the United States, I also packed my swim gear.

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What was the last hard workout you did which reminded you how much progress you’ve made?

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