Ode to Swimming

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Hey, hey.  How’s your Friday going?


I MADE IT TO THE POOL.  My buddy was not very thrilled that I dragged him to the gym. Winking smile Sorry, Dad.  But we made it, and we swam about 650 yards.  I think 650 is my new current ‘normal’ – 900 yards is just too far these days.  I’m still pretty proud of 650, though.


While swimming, I was thinking about how much I’ve fallen in love with the activity.  When I first started this blog four years ago, I had never swam for fitness, ever.  After a few years, I wanted to do a triathlon, so I taught myself how to swim freestyle by watching YouTube videos and getting a friend who was an accomplished swimmer to give me some real-life pointers.  I sucked at swimming at first.  My form was terrible, and I found it to be very grueling physically.  I couldn’t swim more than two or three laps without needed a long, long break, despite being in pretty good cardiovascular shape.  But I didn’t give up.  And then… one day… it kind of just clicked.  I figured out how to swim! 


Of course, then I did my first triathlon… and had a nasty panic attack in the lake and quit the race.  It took me over a year to get over the horror of open water swimming, and when I tried again, I had another terrible panic attack in the lake, but I trudged on.  I didn’t want to quit.  And slowly but surely, I figured out lake swimming.  And now swimming – whether in the pool or the lake – is one of my favorite things to do, period.


In hindsight, I am so glad that I have swimming now.  Not only is it the only exercise (besides walking) that I can comfortably do at 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, but it’s really fun (when is pretending to be a mermaid NOT fun? <—yes, I do this).  And it’s refreshing and invigorating.  It makes me feel so good – never drained. 


I’m not just swimming because I can’t run or bike or spin.  It’s not my second place sport.  Swimming isn’t my back-up.  It’s my favorite sport.  I’m glad I gave it a few chances.  Just because it wasn’t love at first stroke doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be.  Smile


Write an ode to your favorite sport!



  • Lauren J @ The Barn June 8, 2012, 6:39 pm

    This isn’t an ode, but I just ordered my first one piece specifically for swimming. We live on an Air Force base and I want to make use of the awesome indoor pool. I have NO clue what I’m doing though!

  • chelsea June 8, 2012, 6:58 pm

    Just wanted to let you know I did completed my first Iron girl tri! I loved it so much that I signed up for a Half Ironman in September 🙂 Thanks for the motivation and awesome tips 🙂
    Cant wait to meet your baby (I say boy btw 🙂

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:11 am

      You go, girl! Good luck!

  • theresa @ aspoonfulofsunshine June 8, 2012, 6:58 pm

    Ode to ROWING!!! I love it. Personally, I believe it is the best combination of cardio an resistance training there is out there. And the best part of rowing is that its on water (duh) but this means that the venues are always gorgeous bodies of water. You might enjoy it too Caitlin, I was a swimmer my whole life and the transition to collegiate rowing was really natural 🙂

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats June 8, 2012, 7:10 pm

    I love running! It calms my anxiety and is perfect “me time,” plus i can do it anywhere!

  • Ali @SeeAliEatSeeAliRun June 8, 2012, 7:40 pm

    I had hip surgery and haven’t been able to return to running just yet-swimming has become one of my favorite exercises to pass the time until I’m running again. I used to swim competitively so I feel very comfortable in the water! 🙂

  • Laura @ She Eats Well June 8, 2012, 7:41 pm

    I think it is absolutely amazing and inspiring you are staying active so late in your pregnancy. Any day now!

    My favorite is running. It just clears my mind and I love, nothing more, than running on a sunny day with a new playlist. It’s the best!

  • Kim June 8, 2012, 8:01 pm

    I enjoy running because it is so accessible, but I would have to say that cross country skiing is my top winter sport, and paddling is my top summer sport. Skiing is such a great full body and cardio workout but without the pounding of running, and the feeling of flying through the woods is incredible! Backcountry paddling is my favourite summer activity. Kayaking would have been tops a few years ago, but now with the dog we do a lot more canoeing. I’m happy either way 🙂

    I’m impressed with your persistence with swimming!

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:13 am

      you are so adventurous!!!

  • Valerie at The Year of Living Healthfully June 8, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Swimming is also my favorite fitness activity. It makes me feel strong, fluid, and graceful even though on land I am not so fluid and graceful. Swimming calms me, invigorates me, and makes me feel good about myself and what I can do.

  • Chetney June 8, 2012, 8:35 pm

    I really should give swimming another try. My mother in law has a pool at her Condo, but I just kind of tread water and try to keep my head above water! I don’t want to be a flailer anymore haha! Thanks for the encouragement through your victory!

  • Leslie June 8, 2012, 9:08 pm

    I love swimming also. It makes me feel like a kid. It’s fun yet it’s very good exercise. I suck at it but that’s ok. My swim mentor is my 9 year granddaughter. She is on a swim team.(seals) She is showing me how to breathe correctly and I’m perfecting my strokes. It’s a win win, she is building confidence in her abilities by helping me and I am getting better at swimming. So fun!

  • Karen June 8, 2012, 9:51 pm

    I think I needed to read this exact post today!
    I’ve been looking for some new fitness goals and I just moved into a place with a pool. I hadn’t even considered incorporating swimming into my repertoire.

    By the way, I love that you pushed through that panic..very inspiring!

  • Cate June 8, 2012, 9:56 pm

    I really needed to read this today! I’ve decided that I want to be able to swim for exercise and I’ve been doing lots of googling and youtube watching to try to teach myself proper form. It’s really intimidating to start when you don’t know what your doing. I call what I do “not drowning” rather than swimming.

    Anyway, I finally gathered enough courage to go to the pool yesterday and I completely sucked (both physically and metaphorically). I had the hardest time breathing! I’m determined to improve and I’m going to give it another go tomorrow. It’s nice to know that everyone struggles with it at first. I know it will be worth it in the end. 🙂

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:14 am

      Breathing really is the hardest thing to figure out, both how to breathe while stroking, how to breathe out underwater, and how to take a big breathe when your head comes out of the water. Go to the pool one day and make breathing your sole purpose of being there – just stroke really slow and try to figure it out. All of the sudden (and it make take a few days) it will just come together, I promise.

  • Anne Kendall June 8, 2012, 10:06 pm

    I absolutely LOVE swimming! I’ve been “swimming” since before I could walk. My parents insisted that I join our neighborhood competition swim team as soon as I was able so that I’d never have a fear of the water and so they could feel comfortable taking my sister and me on water-based vacations (the river, the lake, the beach). I loved swimming twice a day, competing in weekly meets, and even winning medals at the championship meets! I’ve always been comfortable in the water, but I also have a healthy respect for the power of water. What better total-body workout could you ask for?! Keep on keepin’ on — you’re doing great 🙂

  • Mary June 8, 2012, 11:02 pm

    I love swimming too. I started to be able to complete a triathlon, but it has by far become my favorite part! Most of my friends are fast runners and I struggle to keep up. Swimming is one area that I feel actually strong and if I could only pick one sport to continue that would be it. Go swimming! Glad to see you still making it to the pool with only days left to go in your pregnancy. Hope to see Baby HTP soon! My oldest son turns 15 tomorrow…where does the time go?

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction June 9, 2012, 12:14 am

    I’ve never been a good swimmer, I can do just enough to save my life, but not enough to make it look pretty! Tennis is my sport! I love everything about it! It’s fun,can be played at any age, and involves cute outfits! What could be better? 😉

  • Emily June 9, 2012, 1:00 am

    Ode to running… It’s simple, straightforward, and you can do it anywhere as long as you’ve got a good pair of shoes and motivation! Speaking of which, do you like Fitness apps? I have a friend who came out with an app called Fitness Friend on the Iphone/Ipad (Apple) site. It’s really simple and there to motivate and connect fellow fitness friends… This isn’t spam, just a friend recommendation! 🙂


  • Jo June 9, 2012, 1:14 am

    Yes! Haha, I’m always happy to see someone appreciate swimming as much as I do, i.e. best thing ever! 😀

  • Gillian June 9, 2012, 1:46 am

    I had written a race report for my first ironman but it didn’t inspire me. However, the second ironman has inspired me to write an “ode” to diabetes and endurance sports! i am same about swimming, didn’t like it at first but now. i like it!http://endurancediabetic.com/2012/06/08/grazing-and-morning-exercise/

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:15 am

      Great post!

  • Maeve June 9, 2012, 5:02 am

    When I first started taking tennis lessons as a child, I was under-confident and overweight. I was taking classes with my sister, who was naturally athletic and in great shape. My mom signed us up as something we could do together, also probably hoping to get me some much-needed exercise (I hated team sports because I couldn’t keep up and always felt picked on).
    We bought $20 racquets at the Sports Authority and from the first lesson I knew I had found something really exciting. I was tall, and because of my weight I actually had a lot of power, so I was able to excel even though I wasnt in the physical shape of my peers.
    In tennis, all of your accomplishments are your own (at least in singles!). Having to take the responsibility of a win or a loss taught me so much in those years (age 11-14).

    Tennis inspired me to start working and saving for a new and nicer racquet, I got a job to pay for private lessons, and when i finally got my license in high school the excitement was mostly so I could drive myself to tennis.

    The desire to improve my game and excel on my high school varsity team was finally what got me to begin a serious weight loss journey- losing about 40 pounds in high school and moving to the #1 and #2 rank spot on my team and the Varsity captain.

    Looking back, I credit my mom and sister so much for pushing me into the sport. And I think of tennis so fondly- i only get to play occasionally but i feel smart, capable, and confident whenever I do.

    *Also, thanks Caitlin for asking people to write an ode to their sport- I havent thought through my love for the sport in a long time! What a great way to participate in your lovely blog!

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:15 am

      Aw I love this 🙂

  • Sam @ Fit for My Fork June 9, 2012, 6:25 am

    My favourite sport is horseback riding – I love that I can share the activity with another living, breathing thing (that’s not a person) and we have to work together to enjoy it. It never feels like exercise to me – okay, maybe ten minutes of stirrupless trotting does feel like exercise – and sometimes the best part of riding is the time spent out of the saddle brushing and grooming and fussing over your horse!

    It’s so great that you are still keeping up with swimming, not only as you are pregnant, but because of your past lake-inspired panics. You are a trooper!!

  • Lee June 9, 2012, 8:00 am

    That’s awesome that you kept at it!

  • Jane June 9, 2012, 8:34 am

    Hey Caitlin! I just recently starting swimming too, and really enjoy it. Could you please point me in the direction of the YouTube videos that helped you with your form? Also, do you have any “swimming workouts” you use– sometimes I’m not sure if it’s best to just keep doing laps until I’m tired, rest and start again, or if there is another technique. And lastly, how do you keep track of laps? Hah sounds silly, but once I hit a couple hundred yards (the pool where I swim is 25m lengths) I can’t keep it straight and never remember how many laps/yards I do! Thanks for your help, you have a truly inspiration blog- fitness and food aside, your work to inspire others’ confidence and health is really admirable.

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 11:17 am

      I don’t think there was really any one YouTube video in particular that helped me, I just watched a ton and watching different people explain freestyle in different ways really helped me.

      Some beginner workouts: http://ruthkazez.com/Zeroto1milePreamble/pre-zero.html and http://ruthkazez.com/ZeroTo1mile.html

      Regarding counting laps, I count every lap, not every length. Sometimes I get confused but I just really try to keep it straight. I know other people have all these systems (like moving pennies from one side of the edge of the pool to the other).

      • Jane June 10, 2012, 11:49 am

        Great, thank you I will take a look at those! I may just try to recite the lap over and over in my head while I’m swimming- kind of like when you are running and get a mantra in your head. Maybe it’ll work!

  • HTPDad June 9, 2012, 8:55 am

    “My buddy was not very thrilled that I dragged him to the gym” = call dad and ask when we’re going swimming in his car – and it’s Aquaman, silly.

  • Maryz June 9, 2012, 8:55 am

    My first love is running. But as I have gotten older, my body does not love it like my mind does! Swimming is the ‘fill in’ between running days. I swam all through high school and loved it. I now have a new appreciation for it. There is something about the calm of the pool that is so relaxing. Instead of pretending to be a mermaid, I pretend to be Dory and chant to myself ‘JUST KEEP SWIMMING’!!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See June 9, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I’ve never actually tried swimming for fitness. I’ll go to the pool occasionally but never to really do a workout. I’d love to learn but have never been able to work up the courage to teach myself. Perhaps a goal to make? 🙂

  • Jamie June 9, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Interesting that you said it’s your favorite sport. I love how you said its refreshing and invigorating, not draining. That’s how exercise should be!!

  • Nikki June 9, 2012, 2:41 pm

    This is totally random, but I’ve noticed that you eat a fair amount of tofu/soy–as do I. My fiancé and I are just starting to think about getting pregnant, but I’m concerned about research that suggests that too much soy can impeded a woman’s fertility and/or negatively influence fetal development. (i.e. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soybean-fertility-hormone-isoflavones-genistein)
    What are your thoughts on this?

    • Caitlin June 9, 2012, 4:00 pm

      It was a huge stressor for me in the second trimester because Bradley Method is really into protein and it was hard for me to get enough protein in without tofu and soy milk. What I do is try to switch some soy products to the non-soy ones… So I use a non-soy protein powder (rice), for example. I try not to overdo it on tofu but probably still have 6 – 8 servings of soy a week. It’s hard. Basically I just decided to limit what I could, try to get my protein in other ways, and not stress out about the soy I did eat.

      Good luck!

  • Amber K June 9, 2012, 2:44 pm

    I think it’s really inspiring when people find a sport that just fits them to a T and makes them feel great. I don’t enjoy working out or a particular sport, but I do enjoy the feeling I get after spending time at the gym. I don’t think I could actually write an ode about it, but I’m glad that I feel much better now that I work out.

  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia June 9, 2012, 3:02 pm

    That’s awesome that you’re still swimming basically the week your baby is due—you go girl! When I first learned to swim, I was taking swim lessons with my neighbors & was so bad at it (or rather, too stubborn/scared to learn it) that the instructor had to put aside time just to work with me in the shallow end!

  • caronae June 9, 2012, 3:51 pm

    I swam really seriously up through high school but then mostly ran during college. I tend to come back to swimming though in the summers and I just joined the Y and have been swimming twice a week or so. It is so refreshing, especially compared to running in the summer heat.

  • Nikki June 10, 2012, 12:22 am

    I am recovering from an ACL reconstruction revision with a donor graft and I cannot do any cardio but swim and ride a stationary bike (biking is still hard to do! as I only have 110 degrees flex right now)

    I had always HATED swimming, but this year it clicked! I don’t know if it was the fact that I spent a month unable to exercise and I missed moving?? (I never thought I would EVER say that) and that I appreciate the ability and gift that I can move… I spent a lot of time regretting not moving more before my surgery. There is nothing I can do about that, but I can swim now. I love the feeling of weightlessness and find myself squeezing in a couple of lane swim sessions a day lately!
    Oh, and there is a community swim chart on the wall where if you swim 40 laps (1km) you get an “X”… and I love the validation of my movement! lol

  • Dan Graham - Wild Swimming Holidays in North Wales June 10, 2012, 1:55 pm

    All I can say to that is WOOOOHOOO!! Good on you for struggling through it – swimming is a wonderfully pleasurable activity. I’m sad that you had such a bad first experience, but glad you persevered. Taking the time to get used to open water (with a supportive coach or friend) is really important – lots of people have issues with it, and generally they are perfectly competent swimmers – it’s often the cold, or the dark, or simply the “fear of what lurks beneath” that puts them off.

  • Laura June 10, 2012, 5:22 pm

    I’m like you four ears ago! I am so intrigued by swimming especially for fitness but I just can;t get the movements right and I feel a little embarrassed! I’m reminded of my desire with this post and kind of inspired!

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