“When these women came to the Swimming Wellness program, they could barely swim,” recalls coach Pam Lazzarotto. “They were nervous and excited at the same time. I honestly thought, what a great opportunity to share my passion for the water.”
The 51-year-old Swim Across America race director who regularly does 500 yards of fast butterfly in a typical workout is well-equipped to teach swimming to non-swimmers, but teaching and sharing the passion is always a journey.
“On our first week, we were practicing how to put on a swim cap and trying out different pairs of goggles. And, now, three weeks into a regular swimming program, the women are not only planning for their first open water swimming competition, but also doing butterfly and feeling sore in parts of their body that they never knew they had muscles there.”
We first went over breathing and being comfortable in the water.
Then the women learned how to float and move their arms and legs in a coordinated manner. Sometimes, they would get frustrated and confused, but we all got through these learning stages together. We huffed and puffed together, but smiled and laughed with each other. When our goals and journey to achieve those goals are the same, it makes everything so much more enjoyable and achievable.”
The Canadian swimmer who lives in Long Beach, California was still trepidatious to discuss the possibility of participating in an open water swim so soon. “But I thought we needed a goal. Even if it is a 100-meter swim in a calm bay, this would be a great achievement for these women who just learned how to swim. When I first encouraged them to give it a shot to swim in the ocean, they all surprised me. They were not only up for it, they also wanted to encourage their other non-swimming friends to join in.
And now we have a growing group of people sharing the passion for swimming.”
Day by day in a 12-meter warm-water physical therapy pool, the newbies are taking their first strokes to conquering their fears about swimming. “Their husbands can’t believe they are already swimming butterfly. They are becoming more aerobically fit, they are working on their core muscles, and becoming coordinated in ways they never imagined. All with a smile on their faces. It is wonderful to see this growth in confidence and their abilities in the water. This newly founded confidence also has the effect of transferring over to their land-based abilities and responsibilities.”
Now onto the open water.
Photo by Eric Erenstoft.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association