Thursday, January 22, 2009


For the most part, I'm pretty set with my routine when it comes to swimming. It's really quite simple.

A) Masters

or (cue scary music)

B) Jen Harrison workout

Not that Jennifer's workouts are bad. Quite the contrary. But I have been known to pee in the pool from lack of oxygen. Breath sets. Yes, I was warned, but nope, the warning did not make one bit of difference.
Trust me.

Once I arrive at the pool, it's a quick stop in the locker room to change and/or empty the bladder (be prepared!), and then out to the pool deck.

When I've decided which lane I'm going to swim in, it's a matter of tossing my swim toys at the end of the lane and diving in. Well - I don't really dive. I've found out that my goggles whip off my face when I do that. I jump. Feet first. And then I swim.

But back to the end of my lane (with all the gear).

Nathaniel once told a mutual friend that he could, "find Marit at the pool because she's the one with all the crap at the end."

Thanks Sweetheart. I love you too!

Yes my friends, that is sarcasm.

So what if I've got a pull buoy, paddles, kick board, zoomers, extra cap, spare goggles, water bottle, and workout sheet? Don't we all?

Regardless, I'm pretty set in my ways.

Until today. This morning before my swim, I was browsing various blogs, skimming information and trying to absorb anything news worthy that I could. It was early, and in my defense I had only consumed one cup of coffee. Okay - two cups.

Clearly not enough.

But then I happened upon this article by Excel Aquatics. It discussed paddles, and in particular, the use of wrist bands for securing the paddles onto your person while swimming.

I recalled the first time I had ever used swim paddles. My friend Deanna (who also taught me to flip turn), mentioned that the really good swimmers only needed the finger bands to keep the paddles in place.

Forget just the finger bands. I was still trying to figure out how the heck to flip turn (with paddles), let alone abandon the wrist bands. For me, they were essential if I wanted the paddles to stay in place. On my hands.

Fast forward a few years (to yesterday) and I noticed during Wednesday's master's swim, that one of my lane mates had the same paddles as me. Minus the wrist bands.

Then I read the Excel Aquatics article.

I'm no dummy, but... It would seem as though all the signs were pointing for paddles minus the wrist bands. Kind of like when you're watching a horror movie, and the token blond goes down the creepy hallway where you just know the axe murderer is about to jump out behind one of the many closed doors. She should have paid attention to the signs; instead she'll meet a less than desirable demise.

Yes. So no wrist bands for me, thank-you-very-much. Lest I be eaten by the pool shark or something (because you know they live on the other side of the grates at the bottom, waiting to burst through and attack an unsuspecting swimmer).

Enough about the pool sharks.

Paddles! Yes, wrist bands and paddles, that's what we were discussing!

Towards the end of my swim today, I was given a 300 pull with paddles to complete. And therein was the challenge: do I try something new that may benefit me in the long run, or do I stick with something that through past experience, I know works?

It took about two seconds before I was wrestling the wrist bands free from the tiny holes in the paddles.

FYI: rubber paddle bands + 6 years of intermittent chlorine splashing = not a good combination. If I tugged too hard, the band would break. Excellent! And then I would have no hope of using the wrist bands in case the bandless thing didn't work out. A few breathless moments later, and I had freed the wrist bands from their slots.

All systems were go. And wrist bands were safely intact.

They looked like al dente raviolli on the pool deck. Great visual, I know.

I stuck my middle fingers through the finger bands on each paddle (yes, the middle finger. That is not a typo), and quickly pushed off form the wall.

One stroke. Two strokes. Three strokes. Four, five, eight, and then ten. And...nothing. The paddles stayed in place, where they were supposed to.

I can't be sure, but there may have been some loud shouts of joy underwater. At least I was inwardly cheering. Yeah! My stroke is actually okay! Confirmed because my wrist bandless pull buoy is staying in place!

I guess sometimes we just need to go out on a limb. Put ourselves out there and try something new. Cast aside parts of the old routine and choose a different path. Who knows what we'll discover along the way. If anything, we'll learn and grow in the process. Or hopefully, at least have a good time trying. But the key is to try - because if you never do, you'll never know. And it's those unanswered questions that always leave us wondering.

That's gotta be one of the worst things, in my opinion.

Well, that or getting eaten by the pool shark.


ADC said...

I can just imagine your joy underwater when you've figured you can swim without the wrist bands. Don't you just love that feeling! Well done Marit! Ah, and thanks for all thet great advice you gave me on eating right :-)

Missy said...

Woohoo, I swim with Excel and if coach sees extra bands on your paddles, you will kindly find them removed by the time you get back:)On my way there right now, glad it worked.

Pedergraham said...

Yay--that means you don't let your elbows drop. We were never allowed to swim with the wrist straps on our paddles as kids. I have a piar of the square Speedo ones that are about 20 years old and I keep having to replace the middle finger straps, but other than that they still work great. P.S. If you want to keep your goggles on and dive in, try tucking your chin in just a little (and practice in the deep end so if you go down deep you won't hurt your head/back/spine).

Molly said...

I've never used wrist bands on mine - now you have me wondering what I was missing LOL!

Beth said...

You've inspired me!! Paddles usually make my shoulders hurt but I just ordered a smaller pair in hopes of finding some relief. I'll be sure to get rid of the wrist bands as soon as they arrive... ;) Awesome Marit!

Greg Remaly said...

What I find better than using paddles (with or without extra bands) is tying a band around your ankles so you can't use your kick or feet whatsoever. I find this really builds core and upper body strength, and reinforces good technique and turnover. Using a pull buoy helps if you're especially sink-prone, but you can do it without a pull buoy too.

Roo said...

Hey- no one told me there were sharks behind that grate! I used to go down and peer in there when I was a kid, thinking I'd find something good. Definitely never doing that again!

Charisa said...

Oh no, I didn't realize there were pool sharks! :O And I remember 2 years ago when coach ripped my wrist bands off my paddles and told me they were stupid :) But it worked! Awesome job in the pool!

Maijaleena said...

I was reading this thinking it was going to turn into a--its not a good idea to swim without the wristbands story cause something bad happened. Glad it worked out!

Damie said...

I am laughing:) I tried the very same thing 2 weeks ago after reading some swim tips from Eggers- she suggested it would help with the catch phase. Off went the wrist band! Are you having fun in Cali? Was it is a good move? I hope you are doing well. :)

Mer! said...

Would you believe....Amanda made me buy paddles in April of '07...I never used them until probably April of '08 =0. I didn't even know how to put them, I asked this swim "coach" at the Y to put them "together" for me.

He was on the 2004 French Olympic swim team =0....and he just put the middle finger tubes through, so I didn't even know there WAS another option for wrists, I thought the other rubber parts were "spares" =0

Love pulling...I remember doing a 700 pull and thinking I was going to die..and I didn't. Rock on Marit!

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

Marit - I am impressed, I still haven't figured out those stinkin' paddles. Part of me refuses to try and part of me is super jealous when people stick em' on and part of me is afraid and part of me... oh well you get the point.. hee hee! Good luck tommorow!!!! I will be sending you some very speedy vibes :-)

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