Many of you are familiar with my fear of swimming in the ocean. My goal this year is to actually get out in the ocean and swim a mile. Last week I completed the first phase of becoming a better swimmer. I participated in a triathlon. Yes, I know many people do this- and I am not really looking for accolades on doing a triathlon. What I am willing to pat myself on the back for is completing the swim portion of the triathlon.
The swim was not in the ocean, and there was no threat of sharks- but I did manage to swim 3/4 of a mile in a freezing cold, somewhat disgusting lake in the midst of 100 other feet and bodies kicking and bumping me. As the gun went off, I dove in and started strong (that lasted about 15 seconds). After getting kicked and jostled my goggles were full of murky lake water and I lost my breath from putting my face in the cold water. Fifty yards from the shore I started treading water, looking at the bouy in the distance and thinking: this is not going to happen. Then I thought of my hours of swimming in the pool and started to convince myself that I could go the distance, I just needed to get myself situated. I wasted about 4-5 minutes treading water, floating on my back and trying to get my goggles back in order.
I took one more look up at the buoy in the distance and put my head down and tried again. One stroke at a time I saw myself getting closer and closer to the turning point. Just when I was gaining confidence, the men caught up to us old gals and once again I was thrown off by bodies and feet everywhere. I had to clear my head one more time and find a rhythm that I could maintain. I ended up breathing every other stroke rather than every three strokes. I had to let go of my fear and just get busy moving forward.
I got out of the water in 29 minutes. I have to admit I was pretty proud of myself once I was back on solid ground. Once I got settled on my bike, the reality of my accomplishment in the water set in: I can be a swimmer, I am a swimmer. I realize many people swim greater distance all the time. And, in the scope of life, this was just a swim- not like saving someone’s life or finding the cure to cancer. Tucked away in each and every person is a little voice that says “I wish I could do _____.” You feel in the blank. I am here to tell you that you can do it. It might require hard work or take a while to do, but you can do it. You just have to get started.
Pacific Ocean here I come!