My journey from first swim to 1000 yards

And it only took me 8 sessions


About a week ago, I wondered, among other things, if I could swim twice a week. What I discovered is that I can swim every single morning.

This morning I swam 1000 yards.

Just one week ago, the thought of me getting up before sunrise to swim half a mile was laughable. The truth is, the only thing stopping me from doing this was me.

Here is how I learned that swimming 1000 yards was not impossible.


You don’t need any fancy equipment…

There was no need for me to buy anything to get started. That meant no expenses. I pulled out the same swimming shorts I’ve owned since 2003 and I was ready to go.

A pair of goggles, although not essential, were very helpful. Rather than blindly browsing Amazon, I found a forum and asked for a recommendation. I am very happy with these.

View Platina Swim Goggle ($13.99) from Amazon

I also learned that a grey or blue tint can be especially helpful if you’re swimming outdoors or in a brightly lit pool.

…but you can buy fancy equipment if you want to!

I’ve wanted to treat myself to a Fitbit or an Up for a long time. When I wasn’t doing any physical activity there really was no reason to. Perhaps the gadget would have motivated me, but it’s much more likely that it would have ended up stuffed in the side of my sock draw.

Now that I am committed to swimming, a wearable is a little more justifiable and I am waiting for my Misfit Shine to arrive.

Why the did I choose the Misfit Shine? Unlike many of the fitness wristbands, it claims to be able to track swimming (and cycling).

All said and done, I just want one.


Control your drinking

That mid-morning caffeine crash was never helpful, so I’ve made some changes to what I drink.

Less coffee, more water. Less wine, more tea.

I realized that I could work out all I wanted, but unless I became more aware of what went into my body then I was just making things harder on myself.

While I am not one of the countless people who have signed up for Tim Ferris’s #NOBNOM challenge this month, he said one thing that couldn’t be more accurate:

“When you aren’t nursing hangovers, chewing up 3–4 hours per night with friends, destroying your sleep with booze … you get more done!” — Tim Ferris

I haven’t cut caffeine or alcohol out of my diet completely, but I am trying to stay hydrated and make smart choices about what I choose to drink.

Day and night.

The occasional nightcap isn’t going to cause great harm, but I do find that just a little glass of wine late at night makes it just a little harder to get up and out without hitting the snooze button.

There’s one other benefit of being a little more mindful about what I’m drinking. By opening just three fewer bottles of wine a month, I’ve more than paid for the cost of my pool membership.


Eat breakfast

I’ve never been one to eat breakfast regularly.

I have no problem making bimbimbap or Shakshuka for a family breakfast but I’ve always kick-started my mornings with a cup of black coffee.

Cereal has never been my breakfast of choice, so realizing the importance of eating before I work out, I have started to make sure I have some breakfast options ready to go.

My go-to breakfast foods have become hard boiled eggs, tahini, red cabbage salad, Israeli salad, avocados and marmite.

Two slices of (gluten free) toast a quarter avocado and I’m ready for a swim.

All of these go well with a slice or two or toast and I can have them ready the night before making the mornings pretty straight forward.

I’ve replaced my morning coffee with a tall glass of water, a real breakfast and a cup of black tea.


Make incremental change for long term success

This is the real lesson. Right here.

When I got in the pool on the first day, my goal was to see how far I could swim. I could not swim far.

The pool at Hyatt Olive 8, Seattle WA. One length of this pool had me wiped out!

One length of this pool had me panting and wheezing like an animal. Before I moved over to the hot tub to “recover”, I stood in the water to catch my breath for five minutes.

This morning I swam 1000 yards. That’s 50 lengths of the pool.

I haven’t set an ultimate goal like swimming a mile or running a triathlon, but for the first time in my life, I absolutely believe that I am able to swim a mile. Or two. When I get in the pool, my goal is to swim just a little further that last time.

Swimming just a little further is a goal that I know I can meet. I know I can swim the same distance that I swam last time, so a little more is a no-brainer.

I didn’t plan to swim 1000 yards this morning. I thought 40 or 42 laps would be a nice way to build on yesterday’s 34 laps. When I reached 34, 40 felt realistic. Then 42… 45… 50 laps just seemed so realistic. It was just a little further.


I’ve applied “incremental change” to my morning routine too.

We have three children under the age of 5. Cutting in to precious sleep-time sounds like a terrible idea, so getting up early to exercise has never seemed like an option.

My first breathless attempt to swim took place in the middle of the afternoon. I squeezed a swim into my day. I did this four times before switching to mornings.

The first time I decided to swim in the morning, I got up at the same time as always and went to the pool.

The next day, fifteen minutes earlier. Slowly, I have nudged myself to start my day earlier than I thought possible. Today’s 5.30 am start wasn’t painfully early. It was just 15 minutes earlier than yesterday.


Allow yourself the inspiration you deserve

Look around you. Inspiration is there. You just have to let it in.

These guys are my everything. I’m swimming for me and in turn, we’ll all be able to share so much more.

Two things really inspired me to swim.

The first was taking our four year old to his swimming lesson each week.

He was having so much fun and I just wanted to be healthy enough for our whole family to have fun together.

The second source of inspiration came from my community of marketers.

I see so many people in the inbound marketing community that inspire me. Not just to be a better marketer, but to be a better person. A healthier person.

Danny Dover has taken some real steps to live life with no regrets. Dave Craig’s writing is refreshingly honest and transparent, and Dana Tan made me realize that the only person stopping me from working out was me.

Dana’s post detailed the roadblocks she overcame to meet her fitness goals. Although I didn’t act right away, her success story really inspired me to get in the the pool.

She wasn’t trying to inspire me, and perhaps that’s why I was able to let the inspiration in.

Inspiration is all around you. It will find you, if only you allow it to.

It’s not too difficult to connect with like minded people online. I spent months lurking in this Facebook group before I even liked a single post. Seeing how friendly and encouraging these people made me feel comfortable enough to seek encouragement.

If you’re having a hard time finding what you need, you can try changing your password as a first step or sign up for Lift for friendly reminders of your goals.

And when you do reach a milestone, take a photo so you can look back at that moment.

When I swam that breathless first lap, never did I think 1000 yards would be possible. Now I am wondering what a mile feels like.

Before you know it, you’ll see inspiration online and offline. I am seeing the benefits of my new morning ritual all over the place. After all, if I had not been at the pool on Wednesday morning, I would have slept right through this beautiful sunrise.


My name is Yosef. I like to write, drink red wine, take photos and swim. I also share my unique perspective on kosher cooking at This American Bite. It would be awesome if could help me stay accountable to swimming by telling me what you think of this article. I like it when that happens.

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