As a Masters swimmer, I have the flexibility to change-up my training and essentially do whatever I want whenever I want, which makes swimming a joy most of the time. To supplement what I’m doing in the pool, I often hit the gym, but most recently joined a local CrossFit ‘box’ just to spice things up.
Just one month into it I already found myself being convinced to compete, opening up a whole new dynamic of this land sport. But, I soon found that there enough parallels between a traditional swim meet and my first CrossFit competition, that I didn’t feel too much like a fish out of water.
Here are some similarities that I clung to for comfort as I entered this new competitive territory.
#1 – There are LANES!
Ok, so there aren’t multi-colored lane lines running through the ‘box’ (what we swimmers would call the ‘gym’), but I did get a little sense of pride when I saw my lane assignment was ‘5’. That’s not quite the coveted lane 4 in a swimming final, but it’s close enough and got my heart pumping to dive off an imaginary block. Instead, I picked up the barbell.
#2 – There are HEATS!
Not only are there different lane assignments just as one would see at a swim meet, but there are heats, too! The board at this particular in-house competition spread out the teams through 3 heats, with men in the first two and women in the last. As with a meet, that helped the competition run smoothly and made sure everyone knew where they needed to be. With just 3 rounds, I could keep track and not have to pull out the ‘ol Sharpie to write my event info on my arm!
#3 – There are CHAOTIC WARM-UPS!
You bump into friends, teammates and coaches as you enter the box to get prepared for the competition, just as you get a surge of adrenaline entering the natatorium to kick-off a swim meet. There are bodies everywhere, arms swinging, stretch bands blocking walkways…the scene absolutely reminded me of what a pool deck looks like as an aquatic competition is getting underway.
#4 – There are ‘OFF EVENTS’!
Just as your coach likes to throw you for a loop and enter you in a random 100 breast or 500 free just for funsies, this in-house CrossFit competition incorporated several movements that I would consider my ‘off events.’ The assault bike is a killer and overhead squats are not my forte, but, nonetheless, that’s what the competition and my partner called for, so off I went, making the best of it.
#5 – There is a lot of CHEERING!
While you’re in the pool pounding out the laps, it’s both comforting and motivating to see your coaches and teammates cheering you on poolside, giving you that extra oomph to power through to the end. I found the same camaraderie at this competition, where even other teams were cheering me on to get through the last push-up, pull-up or push press. That same ‘I want you to see you succeed, just like you want me to succeed’-bond among athletes extends both to the pool and to the gym.
#6 – There are meet T-SHIRTS!
You rarely walk away from a swim meet without a t-shirt to commemorate the event, and CrossFit competitions are no different. Competition shirts are worn around the box as badges of honor during future workouts and offer a timeline of one’s career and how far he or she has come.