|The man, the legend, Tim Ferguson|
There was a long, narrow hallway – the “Athlete Hall” as it came to be called – that joined the gymnasium and the competition pool. Various athletes of differing size and shape came and went through the “Hall” looking for competition, looking for rest, or looking for a purpose. Within this corridor, from time to time, I would intersect with swimmers – they in their banana-hammocks, me in my baggy shorts and Jordans. There couldn't be a more strict dichotomy between the two groups, and believe me, I thought it was straight up weird. Little Speedos? Dudes jumping around cold and awkward as they ran from the locker room to the pool? Put. On. Some. Clothes. Man. It didn't matter that Mark Spitz was a household name or that Ian Thorpe had a sweet nickname, swimming was for awkward losers who couldn't play “real” sports.
That was (almost) 15 years ago to the day. I thought about this recently as I stood on the deck, laughing about my obnoxiously bodacious swim briefs, before I
|Clearly . . .|
But before I continue I am going to bust a couple of big myths that continue to be thrown around blogs, forums, and presentations:
Myth #1: The swim doesn't matter.
Is this a touchdown? No. Not it is not. If you can’t complete the swim portion of a triathlon, you’re not going to finish the race. It definitely matters. Triathlons may not be won on the swim leg alone but they certainly can be lost there.
Myth #2: The swim is all about technique, not fitness.
Riddle me this: If you have the best technique of all competitors, but miss the requisite swim time cut-off in an Ironman, will you be allowed to continue? Besides, if you don’t have the fitness, you’re not going to be able to do the drills properly anyway.
I bust these myths for a couple of reasons: 1) there is no shortcut for working hard, and 2) to get better, you have to invest the time (meaning volume). I've been spending more time in the pool this winter than I ever have. I said something needed to change so I made a drastic change and went from a 3-swim-days-a-week athlete to a “Wait, I swim twice in one day now?” athlete. I joined a masters swim group that has monster main sets as well as begged and pleaded with Jenny to make me swim workouts. I worked hard on my conditioning and continued to test myself with demanding intervals. In 2.5 short months, with some consistent yet focused swim training, I have been to decrease my 100 pace by 2 seconds over 2k. This is a fairly large jump for someone who, six months ago, had trouble reading swim workouts without a Rosetta Stone.
I honestly didn't do that many drills or spend time trying to perfect my technique. I just continued to swim long sets and over time I started to build the strength and endurance to hold my stroke together. That, and I spent enough time in the pool to make my skin burn like I’d been dumped in battery acid. Recently I swam 36,900 yards over 6 days – a far cry from the days where “swimming was for losers”. Now my baggy shorts are known as something more appropriate: drag suit.
Tim has an amazing work ethic and I have really enjoying working with him over the last few months. I watch him dive for the first time and even take his first strokes of butterfly. I am excited to see his progress in action this triathlon season. I am guessing his competition won't be nearly excited as I am.