A Past with Swimming

Many people have asked more about my past with swimming so I thought I would share.  Plus swimming is a big sport at the Olympics, and I love watching!  On Tuesday, I wrote a post about why swimmers should get in the pool.  In summary, I was a swimmer long before I ran.  I didn’t start running until 2010-2011, and you can read about that here.

I swam through high school and three years of college.  As competitive as I am with running, I was more so with swimming.

Swimming was my life.  It was my social hour; it was my hobby, my fitness, and my fun.  Outside of school, it was everything.  Now for me running is something I love doing but at the end of the day, it’s a hobby.

swimming 2

In fact, a long time ago this blog used to be named: LOLZthatswim!  If you can remember that, you’ve been reading this ramble for a long time.  Eventually, I began running so the blog was renamed “LOLZthatswim(andrun).  Now it’s just FueledbyLOLZ.  This blog has changed a lot since I started nearly six years ago but that is a post for another day.  So back to swimming: 

Not to say I was obsessed with swimming but I spent a lot more time swimming than I currently do running.  For the high school, college or club level, the average practice is anywhere between 1.5- 2.5 hours.  You are swimming for the majority of that time. 

Could you imagine running or doing speed work for 2 hours daily and sometimes twice a day? 

No, you would get injured.

Most people don’t realize this, but you dive in and swim for 2 hours straight. In a given swim practice, you’ll alternate different sets.  Instead, you might warmup, do 10X100s freestyle with 20 seconds rest, 4X200 IM and so on. It never gets boring, and you don’t usually swim a practice“straight”. It’s more like doing different workouts on the track for 2 hours. swimming 3

How many miles do most competitive swimmers swim at practice?

In a given practice, you could swim anywhere from 3000-4000 yards per hour. It’s hard for me to believe that a “light” college training was around 5000 yards.  I haven’t swum more than 3000 in a very long time, and I have no plans too. Keep in mind, even though I was swimming anywhere from 14-20 hours a week, I was nowhere near professional.  I swam for a respectable D3 school, but I wasn’t anywhere close to the top of Division 3. Professional swimmers or even D1 swimmers are putting 4+ hours a day.

What events did you compete in?

I was a distance freestyler.  I swam the 500-yard freestyle, 1000 and occasionally the mile.  In later college, I would sometimes swim the 200 butterfly too, but I was a distance girl at heart. My favorite distance to swim was the 1000.

Because for me swimming is always a party...
Because for me, swimming is always a party…

What are pool workouts for runners?

This deserves a post in itself.  Pool running is the best workout for “real” running.  Like anything you have to simulate effort and pool running is what you get out of it.  If you relax and don’t get your heart rate up, you aren’t going to get the benefits of working hard.  I found this article by Jason helpful if you want to get into pool running.

So thinking out loud, that is just a brief look at my relationship with swimming as well as answering a few swimming related questions.  I don’t hate it, and I’m not on bad terms with swimming but at this point I do enjoy other things more.

Questions for you:
Do you like swimming?
What is something you did growing up that you don’t as much now?

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  1. Swimmers are INCREDIBLE, because they have so much stamina. The wonderful thing is that it’s easier on your joints, so I think that’s why they can swim so much every day. If you ran that much, that would be a recipe for injury for most runners. I like swimming, but I like it more for playing in the water… It’s mostly cause I’m a REALLY slow swimmer. 😀

  2. I was never a swimmer. I hate putting my face in the water. It is crazy to hear about how much you were swimming each day.

    My “sport” growing up was dance lessons, particularly ballet and tap. I miss it quite a bit.

  3. 2 hours swimming?! That’s crazy! And I can’t even imagine how much stamina that’d require… I used to spend a lot of time in the pool when I was younger, but most of that was just goofing around – I didn’t swim laps or anything.

  4. The way you describe your swimming life sounds very similar to mine. I remember being amazed when I quit swimming and started running all three seasons in college because the practices went from 3-4 hours a day to 1-2 (and the majority of that was stretching, weights, etc.). Swimming is no joke and you have to make it your life to get through it. Swimmers are weird and they’re still my best friends today. I miss high school, where a typical friday night was teaching swim lessons, swim practice, then a movie night/dinner at my house with all of my teammates. Those were the glory days. Like you, I burnt out and enjoy running, but it’s not my life the same way swimming was.

  5. I enjoy reading about your swimming, Hollie! Running is a funny sport because you can only really do it about an hour a day. When I used to skate, I’d train 3-4 hours a day. It’s nice to have something you can devote so much time to when you’re young, but running is a great sport for adults because you can fit it in around adult life. I’d love to read more about your swimming workout tips. I might try to jump into a pool this summer.

  6. love this! I was a swimmer in middle school and then for a hs club (no hs team). I can’t believe how much I used to swim, now I’m lucky to make it more than 30min!

  7. I have so much respect for the swimming you did! I swam until early teens and gave up as the 5am swim became non-negotiable for my trainers. No way was I getting in the pool before school!

    It’s a MASSIVE commitment to swim and I think you’re right to point out the sheer time involved compared to some other sports. It’s also a huge commitment from parents too when you are pre-driving. They have to hang around or find something to do whilst you lap for 2 hours in the middle of nowhere. (At least some of my club pools would be in such places!)

    I also have huge respect for you distance swimming. I was a sprinter, nothing more than 200m for me, so how you had the mental stamina to go at the 1000m + I have no idea! 😉

    Interestingly the burnout is real with swimming. All swimmer I have known have become quite toxic with it by the end. I could barely smell chlorine without my heckles being raised! Took me years to get back in the pool.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Getting up before school was hard sometimes. I feel like a lot of swimmers go through a significant burnout at the end of their careers too. I think the sport is one of the biggest commitments out there!

  8. Growing up I rode horses and went in a lot of shows, jumping and eventing. I haven’t ridden in about 10 years. My daughter took a huge interest in horses very early in her life, she was riding at age 1, and began showing and jumping horses at 4. In her teens she was invited to Germany to train with the Olympic eventing team, so I believe the horse riding ‘gene’ is inherited. I miss riding but as a mom, I feel it is too expensive and very time consuming, so I run 🙂

  9. Interesting. I always think that swimmers who transition to running are really primed to do well because of VO2 max and breathing. Also, having to have good form and core strength.

  10. Ah, the good old swimming days! Remember when we were both swimmers? It seems like so long ago! Now we’re both married and done with college. THis was fun to read back on and reminisce!

  11. Awww this post made me miss swim team with Coach Debbie (who is kicking butt lifting weights now!). Do you remember when we used to goof around and not start our warmup and then she’d give us some stupid evil workout to do. Don’t miss that part of it…

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