Thursday, May 5, 2011

I swam a mile in 35 minutes

Never Done: I swam a mile in 35 minutes

Last week I asked a lifeguard at the Prospect Park YMCA if she could monitor me swim a mile in under 45 minutes so I could qualify for the Great Hudson River Swim on May 28th. Not only did she agree, but she arranged for me to have a lane to myself, and I recruited her to do the triathlon with my Team in Training team. I want to do the Great Hudson River Swim for two reasons. One: I want some low-stakes experience swimming in the Hudson before the triathlon, and two: I might love it.

I've been swimming a lot more than usual lately, so I was pretty sure I would be able to do the mile in under 45 minutes, but I thought it might be just under. I usually swim a lap in about 50 seconds, so I thought it might take me 40 minutes, unless I slowed down after a while, which I expected I would do. But I practiced the two-beat kick that I just learned, and in the end I clocked in at about 47 seconds per lap -- and stayed steady the whole time.

Now NOT that I'm comparing myself to an Olympic swimmer, but Kate Ziegler can do this in 15:42.54. I've met Kate more than once, because she's been around when Josh and I have been filming for Parting the Waters, and she is about a foot taller than me (OK, 9 inches) with about 10 times the muscle mass I have. She -- and all the Olympic women swimmers -- are phenomenal to behold. Which reminds me of a little story.When Josh and I were at our first Golden Goggles awards, we were seated at a table with a bunch of employees of USA Swimming, and one of them (a woman) looked over at the towering, muscular women in their evening gowns, and remarked, "Some of them go too far." What did she mean? I tried to figure it out, but I couldn't, so I asked. "Well, some of them are just too ... muscular. I mean, do they have to look like men?" "But they're Olympic athletes!" I stammered, but she just cast a disapproving eye. I knew which one she meant. Rachel Komisarz, whose upper arms have incredible muscle definition, and who looked AMAZING in her strapless gown.

If Rachel -- an Olympic swimmer -- is going to get hit with homophobia for being too muscular, then just think about what kind of shit younger girls must still get for being strong and athletic. There were a bunch of girls in the pool when I was swimming my mile, and every now and then they would sneak a leg into my lane, so I knew they were paying attention to what I was doing. When I got done, a different lifeguard asked me what I was qualifying for, and I made sure to tell her a little extra loud, so the girls could hear. You never know -- maybe it will inspire them.
Like Rachel inspires me. Here, look:


  1. I think things have changed a little for girls, but it could be the town I live in. It's not that girls have more freedom of expression individually, but it seems acceptable to identify yourself as a "tough girl." This makes it okay for you to be athletic and strong. The other girls are still...girly with accompanying pressures. Ry's strongly identified with "tough girl" now and decided not to take ballet because it doesn't fit her image of herself. Instead, she joined the rock climbing team. I keep wondering, what about freedom to behave in any way?! Yesterday, Ry was returning a book to her teacher and the teacher said, "Oh, it's good to have that back; the boys really like that one." sigh. When will adults learn?

  2. A 35 minute mile in the pool is extremely impressive, young lady. Apparently, you have the "muscle" ;-)


  3. Oh yes, Jenny ... go! inspire! little girls, grown women, geezers like myself. I got tears in my eyes this morning for you and the girls sneaking a foot into your lane.