Feeling Like the New Kid in School at the Pool

schoolroomMoving can leave you discombobulated for a while—you’re super tired yet you need to develop new routines and routes immediately, you’re not quite sure what is in or where anything is in your new area (or even your home), and then there are all the necessary time-demanding tasks (e.g. transfer services, accounts, etc.)

For swimmers, a move also means switching teams, coaches, and training styles, thus requiring many more rapid adaptations. Furthermore, the very nature of swim teams, meaning “quite insular,” adds to the new mental load. My move has been no exception. Even though my new team has been unfailingly welcoming, I’ve still totally felt like the new kid in school at the pool since moving.

Most palatable? The curiosity factor. I can feel the assessing: The looks, the questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Am I sticking around or just visiting? What kind of swimmer am I?

And that’s just an external element of being the new kid in the pool. Internally I’m busy, busy, busy—adjusting to new practice times in a new time zone in new pools, trying to find the best, light, pre-swim snack as am swimming much earlier now, totally fighting down feeling like I’m in a cafeteria wondering where to eat lunch among a room full of new faces when picking a lane to swim in, learning names, figuring out lane-mates’ swim styles and paces so I don’t disrupt sets, picking up team slang, and more.

I’m also re-learning swim team practice after spending much of my pool time the past few years swimming on my own. This means trying to quickly understand and memorize sets the first time they are announced by the coach (sure as heck can’t review them on the whiteboard—bad eye sight strikes again!) communicating what I’m doing per set to contribute to lane flow, dodging people, and remaining aware and thus lane and team courteous at all times.

Certainly, I’m in a big trial and error phase right now, but here are some of the things I’m doing that are helping me acclimate now:

–Pre-preparing everything possible the night before practice (outfit laid out, swim bag packed, water bottle filled, light pre-swim snack prepped in fridge) to make getting out the door at 5 a.m. as easy as possible.

–Taking a moment after practice to enjoy the sunrise and sense of accomplishment—I got up and did something healthy for myself and most likely improved slightly as a swimmer by getting one more inch back in shape, learning one new thing from the coach or a teammate, fixing a bad habit, etc.

–Feeling no shame when asking the coach on deck or fellow swimmers questions if I need more set detail, a drill explanation, etc. because I’m new to the team.

–Having “goal ranges” for the month of April. For example, normally I do weights three times a week, but I’m still pretty tired and know I’m in the process of finding a new optimal schedule. So, for this month, lifting two times a week is fine; a third day any week is a bonus.

–Reviewing a swim as soon I can afterwards to assess where I can improve further, what’s working, what needs fresh solutions (e.g. while my beloved Cocoa Koala Crisps are delicious with hemp milk, the high glycemic factor doesn’t make this cereal the best pre-swim snack, so am tying a few bites of quinoa and sweet potato this week), and more.

Sooooo, yeah. My brain is pretty full during practice right now. Please excuse me if I seem spacy when you ask me a question for now…

Next week: Book Review: Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides

Feeling Like the New Kid in School at the Pool

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