Friday, January 7, 2011

Swimming: Why keep kidding ourselves?

Today I had the motivation to ride my bike to work. The temperature was above freezing (my lowest temperature I like to ride in), so I didn't have much of an excuse to skip the ride. As hard as it can be for me to motivate myself to ride my bike, I still enjoy it much more than most other forms of exercise. A little after the half-way point in my ride today I had the most wonderful thought. I thought to myself, I'm so glad I'm riding my bike and not swimming this morning.

I've never really put that much effort into swimming, so I may be a bit biased, but I did put lots of effort into it in the spring semester of 2010. I took a swimming class because I figured it would be good to actually learn how to swim well. I had heard how great exercise swimming is, so I tried it out. We met three times a week. The first day we were in the water was torture. They tested us on how fast we could swim a lap. The first test was one lap of freestyle and this was doable but still quite difficult since my previous maximum swimming length was a half a lap. I was in the middle of the pack for that test. Next was the kicking test. After a quarter of a lap I was dead. I got to the other end of the pool and waited a good 15 seconds before I came back. I started coming back and it took me forever to get back to the other end. I was surprised that I did actually beat one person, but only by a tiny bit.

I didn't know how to kick. Three days a week I would go swimming, trying to improve my form, but the improvement was minimal over the entire semester. I was in better shape, for sure, by the end of the semester because it was so ridiculously difficult for me, but I was barely any faster than that first day.

Here's what I learned:
  • Swimming is boring. You're going very slow and have nothing interesting to look at. The peak in excitement is turning at the wall, taking breaths, and changing your stroke. I never once was excited to jump in that pool and was never once regretful that I had to get out of the pool at 8:50.
Cycling is fun. You go quite fast and have lots of good scenery to look at if you don't live in Kansas. It's actually pretty often that I'm excited to get on my bike, although I'm usually pretty tired by the end of the ride, so I'm happy to get off.
  • Breathing is difficult while swimming. You turn your head or lift it up just above the water, hoping that you don't breathe in the water that's pouring down your face. If you don't use the correct form while breathing, then your body will shift to a more vertical position and cause you to slow down, messing everything up. I found myself thinking, "I need to breathe. I should have the freedom to enjoy plenty of oxygen, but every time I breathe, it slows me down and gives me a high chance of breathing in water."
While riding a bike, Oxygen is plentiful. Nothing is restricting you from breathing to your lungs' content.
  • Swimming ignores God's gift of fully bendable legs. Look at a dolphin and try to bend it's tail as far as your legs can bend. It won't work. They don't have our range of motion, so swimming is their natural form of transportation. Humans weren't built for swimming. Why keep kidding ourselves?
Cycling embraces humans' design by taking advantage of the legs' full range of motion. Humans have a great range of motion for their legs, so they were built to walk, run, push gas pedals, and bike.

All that being said, I'm happy I don't have to swim anymore and am able to enjoy riding my bike.

P.S. Don't be offended if you think swimming is better than cycling. Most of the above reasons I hate swimming would be very different if I was actually good at it.

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