Growing up I was ALWAYS in the lake.
We lived on a lake in Michigan. Swimming, sailing, water skiing – you name it, I did it. Decades passed, and while I occasionally got to a lake, my swims grew few and far between.
Not quite two years ago, I started my weight loss journey. I sought the help of a dietician, started eating better, and started attending water aerobics classes at my local pool. That led to lap swimming, and I was eventually convinced to join the Masters program. These people became my tribe! They encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit. When I was out of breath with sore shoulders and sick of the chlorine smell, they motivated me to do “one more lap.” My training partner would remind me, “Don’t lose your focus. You’ve got this.”
Then came the big push from the coach. The one that was going to make or break me… OPEN WATER RACE! What was I thinking?! Sure, I could swim the distance in the pool, where it’s warm and clear and there are walls to rest on and lines to keep you swimming straight. But this race wasn’t in a pool. It was around five gigantic buoys placed in a massive circle in the middle of a lake.
I couldn’t turn back now. My family was there watching. My tribe was there swimming.
I signed up for the 2018 LandShark swim in Lake Gardner in Amesbury, MA. The water was cold and murky. Within the first 50 yards, we swam into a shallow area with seaweed that reached up to the water’s surface. It wrapped around my arms and panic set in. I forgot my timing and my breathing and nearly reached a state of panic, but I couldn’t turn back now. My family was there watching. My tribe was there swimming. I would never be able to show my face again at the pool if I quit. So I went on.
At each buoy I would think to myself, “Wow, it didn’t look that far from shore.” Finally, I was approaching the beach and all the spectators rose (at the encouragement of the emcee with the microphone) to cheer me over the finish line. It seems that my daughter and husband filled in the emcee (who promptly announced it to everyone on shore) that this was not only my first open swim, but my first race of any kind. Total strangers came up and congratulated me.
I had finished my first open water swim. It didn’t matter to me that I was in last place, I FINISHED it, and along the way grabbed bragging rights of being second in my age division (we can leave out that I was also last in my division).
Will I do it again? Heck yeah! Will it scare me to my core? Probably. But I’ll do it anyway.
*** This story is part of the I Did It! series. If you have a story about conquering a fear, challenging yourself, or doing something you’d always wanted to do, and you’re open to sharing it on fitmaine.com, I’d love to hear it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org ***