Yes, that title is a yelling title - not at anyone, just vocalizing, loudly, my frustration.
It seems so easy: get in the pool, swim to the other end, swim back. And it is easy. I see little kids do it all the time. Nearly every morning, about the time dad and I are finishing up, there's a swim team starting practice. I watch them and think, "Why can't I swim like that?" The kids range in age from probably 8 or 9 to high school, and they all look very natural in the water. I want to feel comfortable in the water.
When I started swimming, several months ago, just putting my face in the water created a feeling of ... panic. So I've definitely made progress. But the last few days of swimming have been so uncomfortable. It's almost a feeling of claustrophobia when I'm face down, which I know is just a psychological problem. So this morning I decided to swim with a snorkel, the whole time. I swam 18 laps, a half mile, all doing the front crawl. The first few laps were tense, but then I could feel myself relax. My head relaxed and floated lower in the water (since I wasn't holding it up), my breathing rhythm relaxed, my stroke slowed. The last 10 or 12 laps were great. I learned something in the process. I was able to swim 18 laps non-stop. When I swim without the snorkel, swimming the crawl, 2 laps is the most I've done non-stop. I think this means that my problem is not one of breath, instead it's a psychological problem.
I've decided that for a while I'm going to continue swimming with the snorkel. I can work on my streamlining form, work on timing my breathing with my stroke, and get used to being in the water.