It is important to know what and why you’re doing something at practice. If it isn’t making you a better swimmer, shouldn’t you be doing something that is?
It is okay to question a workout. Find out your target heart rates and adjust intervals so they make you better. Swimming is a complicated sport. Something that works for the guy next to you might not work for you.
The more you understand what you are doing, the more ownership you can take over your training.
If you’re practicing with a team, don’t be afraid to ask the coach for help. Most coaches like being asked questions. If something isn’t working, let them know so they have a chance to correct it before giving up on them. Communication goes both ways. If you aren’t being pushed hard enough, tell them. If it is too much for you to handle, tell them. If you need more technique work or don’t understand why intervals are what they are, tell them. Playing the blame game later on doesn’t help anybody. Besides, life is too short for that.
If you’re training by yourself, read books and use the internet. There is a ton of information available that will help you become a better swimmer. If you’re really stumped, hire someone for a private lesson or two – just until you feel comfortable enough to go at it on your own.
It is okay to ask the fast person in the lane next to you what they’re doing and how they got started. Or the swim coach for the local club you always see standing on deck. I would also consider joining a club team because they’re set up to train all levels and most teams offer practices before and after school. Some areas have open water groups that swim together, like running or biking clubs.
If you have a fear about open water swimming – ask someone who’s done it before. You’d be surprised how many triathletes have that same fear. If you want to know why someone kicks a certain way or why their hand does something upon entering or exiting the water, ask them.
Most swimmers I’ve seen have been very accepting of swimmers of all abilities, probably because we’ve all been there. No one starts swimming fast. When I see a new swimmer, I feel happy that they’re trying something different. I don’t judge them for waiting until they were in their 40s or not being competitive in college or high school. Swimming is a sport for a lifetime and I want people to enjoy it.
I answer swim questions with a smile because swimming has given me a lot to be thankful for. I like reaching out to the swimming community – and I think most swimmers feel that way. I can’t tell you how many lap swimmers asked me questions about swimming after practice when I was in high school. I still get a ton of questions from lap swimmers as an adult.
Don’t be afraid to ask why. No one is judging you. Whatever you do in the pool, make sure you understand the reason behind it. You’re the one putting the work in. You should know it is making you better.