Celebrating Slow – Swimming in the Slow Lane

celebrating-slow-200-x-200Slow athletes have some amazing stories – there’s a lot of inspiration to be found at the back of the pack.  Slow athletes deserve to have places to tell our stories, and to have (and be!) role models. The Celebrating Slow Series is a place to do just that. If you have a story that you would like featured here, just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.

Today we’ll hear from Angela, a slow swimmer, in her own words:

I’ve always been slow.  Short and fat with little feet slow.  As a child I was always a tomboy and liked athletics but was chastised by a PE teacher for not being able to run a mile in under 15 minutes.  The teacher got impatient and irritable and said people “can walk a mile in 15 minutes!”.  That’s for people with longer legs, I never could and still can’t.

I was never formally taught to swim but in junior high I joined the school swim team but that only lasted a few months.  I was the team bench warmer and they couldn’t or wouldn’t find a team swimsuit in my size.  Having still never ‘officially’ learned to swim, I returned to the pool several years ago in my mid 30’s.  I’m what I call a ‘floater’.  I don’t sink in the pool, so learning to swim for me was something that I have been able to teach myself because it has involved learning the strokes, not having to simultaneously learn to keep myself up while attempting to do the mechanics of different strokes.

I started off swimming again not even swimming but paddling on a kickboard at a local pool’s deep end open exercise session.  After a while this progressed to a freestyle swimming stroke and I moved it to the lap swim time so I wouldn’t be running into other swimmers.  From there I took up my position in the slow lane and there I have stayed ever since.

My skills have advanced tremendously, my self taught swimming didn’t stop with the freestyle front crawl stroke.  I purchased and discarded several different fins and other swim accessories in my hunt for the right training tools, developing my leg strength and arm stroke.  Then I learned to do flip turns so that I could swim continuously without interrupting my pace.  Next came the dolphin kick.  I thought I would stop developing my swimming after the dolphin kick but it seemed to take on a life of its own and wanted to morph into a butterfly stroke so then I spent six months or more getting the timing and breathing synchronized enough to do a butterfly stroke.

I recently joined a national swimming organization mostly to get their magazine and discounts at swim equipment retailers.  I also thought about joining one of their workout groups but I don’t currently swim competitively and don’t think I want to.  I love swimming!  It’s my meditation, relaxation and exercise all rolled into one.  I think I might just ruin it if I felt the need to keep up with anyone other than myself and I don’t think I want to risk that.

Half a decade and several swim strokes later I’m still happily swimming with the other turtles in the slow lane.  I swim anywhere from 3-6 days a week for 40-45 minutes at a time but my speed has never really changed much over the years and I still wear little fins called positive drive fins, they look like little yellow ducks feet.  I like to think that I’ll still be rocking the slow lane for the rest of my journey through middle age and into my older years.angela

Can’t get enough inspiration from the back of the pack?  Check out the first post from the series about an ultra-slow ultramarathoner:


Are you a slow athlete in any sport? I want to tell your story!  Just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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5 Responses to Celebrating Slow – Swimming in the Slow Lane

  1. I loved reading this, particularly how she kept learning and practicing new skills, and decided she doesn’t want to be competitive because it may diminish her enjoyment of the activity. I had to figure that out last year when I was dealing with pre-race anxiety and fear in the swim start. I love swimming and it is also my time for meditation and focus, so to lose that would be devastating. I also love her suit! I only wear swimsuits with legs – would love to know where she gets hers!


    • mkeyogamag says:

      There’s a chance I’m wrong, but I doubt it. That looks to me like the Quick Energy Aquatard from Junonia. I’ve had two of them, they wear like iron. I currently wear their Aquasport swim shorts and their Quick Energy Tankini. Just an FYI, the Aquasport line consists of material that stands up to chlorine like no other, but I find it doesn’t fit nearly as well as the Quick Energy line, which still lasts an awesomely long time, just maybe not quite as long. Another source for plus sized swimwear is swimsuitsforall. com. Good suits, definitely cheaper than Junonia, but I find I have to replace them more often.


  2. lsstrout says:

    Such a great story! I hope she always has a pool to swim in.


  3. Angela says:

    For those interested in it the suit is from SwimOutlet and is a Waterproof Plus Unitard. 100% polyester, it wears beautifully and holds up to constant swimming in chlorine for about a year even with daily swimming before the seams start to go.


  4. Angela says:

    Whoops, autocorrect. It was suppose to say Waterpro not Waterproof.


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