It's happened a few times with running, a few times in school, and strangely enough, this last Monday with swimming.
I'm not a natural in the water; sure, during summers when I was a kid I loved to spend time splashing around. But when I was twelve I discovered books, and that was that. It's been a good twenty years since I've been in the water with any sort of regularity, and I've never done it to actually get somewhere.
Anyway, with the triathlon training, I've spent time treading water trying to figure out how to use my arms. How to keep my legs from cramping. when to spot. And most importantly- when to breathe.
It's important, breathing. With running it's easy: just time taking a breath for every second, or fourth, or sixth left foot fall, and after a while it becomes relatively natural. Sometimes I'll be gasping; other times I'll be focusing on using my abs rather than my chest to get air into my lungs. I'll never really worry about drowning while running unless I have a particularly poorly timed drink.
With swimming, as I'm sure the observant reader can tell, it's a little different.
When my muscles got a little bit better at moving in such harmony to let me breathe, it let me focus on getting more air into my lungs, rather than blowing out a half-mouthful of water and then trying to get some air. I was able to relax a lot more, which goes a long way toward energy conservation. And my speed improved because I spent a lot less time treading water or backstroke gasping for breath.
Still, it's just the first baby step to actually feeling comfortable in the water. But it does feel kind of nice to have some improvement, ya'know?