This is a guest blog post by Krissy Milnazik about her Swim Camp experience. Krissy is a long time Sonic Endurance athlete, an IRONMAN Lake Placid finisher, and an amazing dog mom. You can follow her adventure on Instagram at @onceuponatri.
I don’t like swimming, but I LOVED swim camp…
Let’s start this off by saying I know how to swim, but I am not a good swimmer. I was never on the swim team as a kid, but I grew up with a pool and I genuinely love being in the water. I will get in any pool (leisurely lol) and I love to be in the ocean. Although, the more I see stuff on Tik Tok I find I am spending more time on the beach, but that is a story for a different day. Anyway, I am what coaches like to call an “adult-onset swimmer,” meaning I started swimming for training when I found triathlon. With that said, my limited skills have allowed me to complete a bunch of race distances, even one full IRONMAN. But what I haven’t been able to do is get any better, or faster. I am swimming basically the same pace as when I started triathlon 9 years ago. Now listen, I take responsibility for this since I swim the bare minimum I need to for training, but my point is I don’t really like swimming, and I think part of that is because I have never been able to get any better at it.
This is where swim camp comes in. I like to say that I was bullied into going to swim camp, but the truth is that I will take any chance to go to Florida when it is colder in Pennsylvania. Or just any chance to go to Florida in general. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to go to Naples and attend a 4 day swim camp a/k/a “swimcation” I dove right in, pun intended. What does a swim camp entail? I had no idea. The schedule had us in the pool for 2 hours each day, with the option to open water swim if you wanted on one of the days as a second session. Before we went I asked Coach Maribeth (since she had gone the year prior),“we don’t swim all 2 hours right?,” to which she replied “oh no, not the whole 2 hours.” Ummmm, we did swim the whole 2 hours, but I will get to that. As we rolled up for the first session, I realized that we would be swimming multiple people in a lane and I started to panic. I knew I sent my 100 yard time to the coaches running the camp, but what if I was slower than my lane friends? What if I held them back? I spotted an older woman, Betsy, and thought ok I can probably keep up with her. A little bit of my panic subsided, but not all. Spoiler alert – Betsy is the freaking best and I lucked out with a lane partner.
We started that first session of swim camp with a 1,000 warm up. A 1,000 WARM UP! I was like hello!, that is my workout. But nonetheless, I got in and swam, swam, swam. And it didn’t suck. Here is where I want to point out, AGAIN, that Maribeth was wrong. WE SWAM THE ENTIRE 2 HOURS. We even ended with a “fun” 500 yard snake through the entire 20 lane pool. Not my idea of fun, but I must admit it wasn’t horrible. And the sense of accomplishment I had after swimming close to 5,000 yards on day one was pretty great. Also, swimming the longest I have in 4 years, so let’s add that in there too. After that swim we ate, then came back in the morning to do it again. Then we ate and went back the next day to do it some more. We sprinkled in a beach open water skills session (I just floated and listened HAHA) and then we ended swim camp on the 4th day doing it one last time. Throughout the swim camp sessions, I was given pointers from the coaches running the camp, which were tweaks I could make to improve my form, etc. Little by little, I started to feel more comfortable as I was swimming, and less like I was working super hard to go nowhere. I didn’t dread the next part of the workout as much as I did on day one.
On day two I decided to take advantage of the video analysis being offered and that is my biggest takeaway from the entire swim camp. THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING. I was videoed both from the deck and under water to analyze my form, breathing, etc. Let me tell you- being videoed under the water when you aren’t feeling great about your body to begin with is not for the faint of heart. I know that shouldn’t be the focus, but I am human and it took a few minutes to remember the goal of the analysis was not to pick myself apart. Once I stopped focusing on my body, Gemma from Push Glide Kick helped me to see my swimming in a whole new light. The best part of the analysis for me? Drumroll… She told me I am not a bad swimmer. WHAT?!?! Now you have to understand that for 9 years I have told myself, and others, that I am bad at swimming. I swear to you something shifted when she said that. Now don’t get me wrong, I have LOTS to work on (apparently I hold my breath? Lol) but I finally felt like I didn’t need to discount the skill I do have just because I didn’t swim laps as a child. I might not have years of swim team under my belt, but I have a foundation that I can now work to build from, and hopefully get a little faster and more efficient.
I felt so much lighter going into the last day of camp, like I had permission to stop beating myself up for being “slow”, and start being excited to get better. That last workout felt way more comfortable than the first. It was probably all the tips and tricks I got from the video analysis and the coaches, but I think it was my mindset too. I went into swim camp terrified, and across the four days and the many, many yards we swam I found the fun in it. Well, fun might be a stretch but you know what I mean. I didn’t hate it! Does it mean I am excited to go swim now? Pfffff. But I am excited to work on my form, get a little more comfortable, and stop telling myself I am a bad swimmer. Maybe that was the purpose of swim camp all along…