A while ago I decided to that I wanted to become proficient in the sport of 40ish dads everywhere: triathlon.
Unfortunately, this means I need to learn how to swim. I’ve been going to the local community center for swimming lessons for the past month, which I think is ample experience to give a completely unbiased review of the noble sport that is swimming.
I’ve broken the review down into multiple categories in order to critique the moist art from as many avenues as possible during my half-hour lunch break.
Rating : 0/10
During my first attempt at front crawl, I managed to flail about two yards before succumbing to the pool’s 6-foot mark and splashing wildly, Magikarp-like, in the middle of the lane, gasping for the breath that refused to come, as the instructor helpfully looked disappointed at me. Unlike the simple movements of running and cycling, swimming feels like a crime against nature, returning to the water that spat my ancestors out millions of years ago. It is a sport borne of man’s arrogance.
Usefulness as Transportation
Consider the foot: man’s first vehicle. Simple, inelegant perhaps, yet designed for distances both long and short. You can run to the store, or the Laundromat. You can even run in place. The foot doesn’t judge.
Consider the bicycle. A genius blend of might and metal that allows one to cross vast distances. Where the foot is a symbol of man’s strength, the bike is symbol of his intelligence. To ride a bicycle is to outwit the Earth herself.
Consider the swim. Messy. Disorganized. Maybe even Satanic. I can’t swim anywhere. There are no moats in my town. No, a swim is an exercise in pure survival, casting your fates to the elements despite a lack of flippers or gills. Also you can’t wear a backpack. Disgusting.
Speaking of disgust…
It became apparent after several lessons that my problem was breathing, so my instructor gave me a snorkel to help me practice the necessary rhythm needed to survive the sadistic 25 meters to the end of the pool. Placing the snorkel in my mouth, I could immediately taste the entire history of my little town: delicate notes of fossil fuels, old man tongue, low tide. The taste of the various Maine peoples, condensed into a thin film smeared across the mouthpiece. Yes, I made it to the end of the pool, but now I almost certainly won’t make it to the end of my 20s.
Gear is the primary motivator that gets me out onto the road or into the saddle. Dedicated watches, shoes, Nip-Guard, etc. gives me reassurance that whatever curveball my workout throws to me, I will be able to handle.
Swimming affords no such comfort. A pair of skintight jammers and foggy goggles are the only weapons you have against the pool. In this way you are rendered an infant, the fragile comfort of civilization stripped from you as you struggle vainly in the water until you rip away your goggles to see your instructor looking to the clock, wondering how one man can risk drowning so many times in such a short timespan.
I don’t think anybody actually completes a lap swim. The kind elderly people in the lanes adjoining mine are most likely dead by now, their bodies piled high at the bottom of the deep end. I am going to survive as long as I can, but I make no promises that by the end of next month, I will be able to navigate the treacherous, grueling 25 meter crawl from one end of the pool to another. I highly suggest the swim portion of the Ironman be supplanted by other, more natural activities, such as kayaking or configuring home Wi-Fi.
If, by some miracle, I do survive this ordeal, I will provide an update with the secret of successfully surviving a full lap in the pool. Until then, good night, and good luck.