In three weeks with DUM I've already noticed some serious changes in my swimming. The yardage per workout is longer than I was swimming on my own. I was surprised how hard the last 1,000 yards were feeling. I'm starting to get on top of that now, and reaping the benefits as well. I managed 45,000 yards in the last 3 weeks, which is an all-time high for me. That's also called an "easy week" by hardcore swimmer standards.
Another huge change from the solo swimming of the last two years is the effort. I thought I was pushing myself before but my times had been slow to improve. With DUM I am pushed so much harder than before. Hard, as in eyes closed, grunting underwater type of swimming. I am determined to get the most of these workouts and I've been paying dearly. In the first week it was not uncommon for a 4 x 200 set to get turned into a straight 800 because I wasn't making the sendoff in time for even a brief rest. This has started to ease, though, as the fitness is improving, which leads to the next point...
My swimming has already improved. A lot. I'm holding splits I never could before. Maybe I could but just didn't because there wasn't anyone pushing me. But for whatever reason my swimming has made a big jump in just three weeks. Awesome. Just in time for some easy weeks over the winter. I'd better attend those stroke clinics they offer during that time. Corollary to this is that swimming seems to have good days and bad days a lot more dramatically than other sports. I can feel great one day and like absolute crap the next. Fortunately there are more good than bad, but for whatever reason things can go poorly despite my feeling reasonable.
Some other things about DUM that don't warrant a paragraph:
- Long course swimming is fun. It is easier for me to get back into a good rhythm after turns. I feel like I'm off balance coming off the wall and in short course, by the time I'm back on kilter it's time for another turn.
- They actually let you dive into the water. My first dive in nearly 20 years was, of course, a belly-flop. Very smooth.
- The facility at the University of Denver is so nice. A real pool explicitly for swimming is so much better than what the local rec centers can offer. Cold water. Wide lanes. Versatility with the movable bulkhead. Banners on the wall documenting the success of the inhabitants. The whole place inspires thoughts of greatness. Probably acts of greatness, but certainly not by me.
- Previously I only did breaststroke when paddling a cooldown. How hard can breaststroke by, right? Well, that thought is haunting me now. Pretty hard, it turns out. At least my backstroke is reasonable. Don't even ask about butterfly.
- Good swimmers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I've been repeatedly spanked by a skinny woman that is at least 50, probably close to 60. Ditto by a "big boned" dude and a scrawny kid. I think it's cool that swimming has this diversity.
- I keep my triathlete status a secret, or so I think. I probably give myself away when I move to the front of the lane for free sets and the back for everything else.
In summary, I am really enjoying DUM so far. It's a totally new experience and has renewed my interest in swimming. I'm motivated by the many excellent swimmers around me and hope to close the gap to them. The group has a reputation locally as arrogant or unwelcoming. I have found this to be 100% untrue. Everyone has been very helpful, even when I totally screw up the set, get in their way or ask novice questions. Even if gains realized in the pool don't translate directly to open water, it will be a new and fun way to stay fit through the colder months.