This ocean swim goal is testing me mentally. In almost any sport, I see myself as having some sort of dignity. I get out there, work hard and regardless of how tired or sick I feel I rarely quit or complain. But ocean swimming is a slightly different deal.
The other day I met my friend (Robin), who is an amazing swimmer, and a swim coach (Eric) to get in the ocean and swim for a bit. The thing is, I sort of cheated. I wore a pair of swim fins. Not only that, but from the get go, I said I wouldn’t swim around the pier, and warned that I would get out of the water after a short while (all of this before even getting in). But, I did get in and swim- I managed to swim a half a mile. I started feeling sea sick from the rolling swells and called it quits.
The thing is, after I reached the shore, I was disappointed in myself. I knew I could swim further than a half mile. Once I was safe on the shore, I felt like I had to do it again…and do better than I had done on that day. I made a plan with Robin (friend) and Eric (swim expert) to hit the open water again in two weeks.
As we started into the water, a pod of dolphins frolicked straight ahead. My stomache was uneasy. Also, this time, we decided to swim out and around the (hermosa beach) pier, then north from there. What did I get myself into? The big mistake I made, was not setting a goal of how far or long I would swim before getting out. Robin was planning on swimming a mile and a half (at least) and I just said I was going to do my best. Let me tell you, when you are out in the middle of the ocean gasping for breath it is hard to make good decisions. By the time we rounded the pier, I was ready to quit. Eric encouraged me to keep going, then when I got a half mile, I said I was getting out. Thank goodness Eric was there to tell me to “quit complaining” and just swim. By this time, we were in the water for about 20 minutes and I was actually less panicked then at the beginning, but every 50 strokes, I begged to get out. Eric used every tactic in his book to get me to keep going, first being positive telling me I was doing a great job. But, in the end, he just started slinging comments at me like, “Are you really a quitter? Is that the kind of athlete you are?” It worked. I stayed in the water and managed to get myself to the one mile point. Even then, I could have kept swimming, but something in my head wouldn’t let me keep going. I guess it was FEAR.
Once again, when I was safe on shore, I analyzed my performance out in the water. Proud that I made it a mile, but disappointed that the whole swim I was “kicking and screaming”. Meanwhile, Robin and another swimmer who went with us that day, were just plugging away, stroke after stroke…never complaining. I was the high maintenance girl who sucked up 100% of the attention of our swim coach: making him paddle right next to me and leaving the other girls to fend for themselves.