Throughout my first session, Pelczynski assessed my stroke and coached me on basics. I was surprised at how challenging the first few laps felt. I pushed through 50 meters, or two laps, frustrated by my sloppy technique. I wasn’t sure how to combine proper breathing, shoulder rotation, head placement and stroke patterns—all while maintaining a decent pace. The biggest boon to my technique was the Endless Pool stroke trainer, a device about the size of a large hot tub that offered a continuous current, allowing me to swim in place while watching myself in an underwater mirror to figure out why my strokes felt awkward. The stroke trainer, combined with Pelczynski’s encouragement, allowed me to improve faster than I expected.
I became more comfortable with proper technique after a few sessions. That’s when we started working on my stamina with a variety of freestyle and backstroke drills. Pelczynski encouraged me to push myself, moving beyond basic technique to cultivate speed and distance. Muscle soreness reared its head after the first week or so, but it was a satisfying soreness. Swimming is a low-impact workout, but it offers intense cardio with a totally unique full-body burn.
Overall, joining the Masters was an empowering experience. Swimming alongside competitive athletes took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to focus on my own strength in a way that I never have before. As my technique improved, so did my stamina, and I began to enjoy getting up early to swim—so much so, in fact, that I’ve decided to stick with it for a few more months.
The Breast Strokes may not be making a comeback anytime soon, but my high school jeans just might.