TL;DR: the group swim was fine.
Swimming has some definite disadvantages versus other athletic pursuits. Running does not cause you to sprout colonies of pathogens in your ear canals. Yoga does not turn your hair into a desiccated tangle of frizz. And nothing else requires quite as much nakedness.
There's a parallel between my feelings about locker rooms and my feelings about blogging. I bare my soul here with some regularity; it would be weird for me to drop some of that stuff in a colleague's lap. I guess I can be naked, physically or emotionally, with people I know really well or people I know not at all. Seeing someone I know slightly while naked in the locker room makes me uncomfortable. And this triathlon training group is full of people I know slightly. I work with one of them.
So I was trying to get changed as modestly as possible tonight: slipped off my leggings, pulled on my swimsuit under my tunic, slipped out of the tunic. "Why," I thought to myself, "am I flopping out of this bathing suit? I've gained a little weight since the election, but not that much weight." And...then I realized: in my attempt to be efficient and modest, I stepped into the bathing suit backwards. It's a plain black tank suit. At its lowest point the U of the back hits me near the bottom of my T-spine. This means it's awfully revealing if I should happen to put it on backwards. But hey -- that way there's plenty of room in the cups for my shoulder blades!
Probably this means I need to channel my inner Swede or Dane or Finn and just embrace the naked. Except I'm not sure I have an inner Scandinavian.
Once I was out on the pool deck (with my bathing suit turned the right way around), I put myself in the "least experienced" group. I did not actually need to be there. One of the high school coaches was there to talk the less experienced groups through some stuff, and she was aiming really low. I should have done this group last year, is what I should have done, and spared myself all those weeks of misery and self-flagellation. Oh, well. Note to Future Jamie: the next time you decide to conquer a childhood fear that pushes most of your buttons simultaneously, find a group to do it with you.
Once we started swimming I was pleased to see that my body remembered what it was doing. I've lost endurance during my winter on the couch, but I am faster now than I was in May. The coach squatted down to talk to me during one of our rest breaks. "You're a good swimmer," she said. "You look really comfortable in the water." (She said this to me! Jamie Gladly! The Jamie Gladly whose swimming angst required so very many pixels last spring! I think she most likely said it because she had been instructed to say encouraging things to the inexperienced people, BUT STILL.) She told me to try another length with less body rotation, which is something my swim instructor worked on last year too.
I have trouble just turning my head to sneak a quick breath without bringing my whole body along. I am wondering if yoga might be a fruitful way to for me to work on neck flexibility. Maybe I'll fit in a quick yoga video this evening before I send my comfortable-in-the-water swimmer self off to bed...