I’ve always been a cardio lover. There’s nothing like the sweat dripping from your pores, the panting for air, the lactic acid flushing your muscles, all combining to give you that feeling of being alive. Favorites over the years have been running (depending on the phase of the planets), spinning, kickboxing, Zumba, and swimming. There’s always been swimming.
Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve rediscovered my love for swimming. Shortly after we moved to Frankfurt, I found a pool close enough to ride my bike to. Initially I didn’t understand just how nice swimming can be for the pregnant body. Now that I’ve gained considerable girth (so much that I purchased my first-ever sport bikini because that’s just so much easier), I love the buoyancy the water provides. And being in the water helps relieve swelling in your feet and legs. Double bonus!
I haven’t had to modify much. I’m a big freestyler, and that works really well with a baby belly. Backstroke was never a favorite of mine, aside from the fact that you can’t keep as careful an eye on what co-swimmers are doing to make sure they keep the their flailing arms and legs away from your precious cargo hold as it slices through the water. Breaststroke, the non-granny kind where you dip your head under with each stroke to avoid too much pressure on your lower back, works well too. I just get bored with my lack of speed after a while. Butterfly seems like too much effort for my cardiovascular system, so, while I will dolphin kick a few laps, I never do the full-on stroke.
A big question I asked myself recently was whether or not flip turns are still a good idea. There are a lot of great discussions in the U.S. Masters Swimming forums. From what I can tell, the standard advice goes here too – if it feels good, do it; once the belly is too big, you won’t want to anymore anyway. I’d been flip-turning away until just this week, week 34, when all of a sudden it became obvious. There’s just no more space to roll into a ball and flip over.
I keep it relatively low-key, but my typical swim workouts combine any of the following:
alternating 200 freestyle + 200 flutter kick + 200 freestyle stroke with pull buoy
alternating 100 flutter kick + 100 freestyle stroke with pull buoy
alternating 100 breaststroke + 100 dolphin kick with single-sided stroke
5 x 200 freestyle (on 5 minutes if I’m feeling strong)
5 x 100 freestyle (on 3 minutes if I’m feeling strong)
I usually aim for 2,000 meters total. Since my heart rate monitor doesn’t work under water, I go with how I’m feeling to monitor my intensity using the Rate of Perceived Exertion. Some days are faster. Some days just aren’t. I always give myself extra time between sets to get my heart rate down again and to catch my breath. And the water bottle is never far from reach.
The most fun part about swimming? When people smile and say that Roo is already getting his first swim lessons. And I like when Toby calls me a Kugelfish (puffer fish, literally ball fish).