Swimming. (Dragging baggage into the pool…)

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Wade and I, 2014 Pacific Crest. He did the Triathalon. I did the Duathlon. WHY?  Because I chickened out of the Tri AFTER Wade signed up.  Three words:  Open. Water. Swim.

‘I can’t swim.’

One day about 18 months ago I was telling my dad that my friends Joe and Josh did Ironman events.  I admire the hell out of those two and I admitted that I was kinda-sorta wanting to do an Ironman too…

I was telling my dad that I wanted to do one, but it would never happen because I just can’t swim. I have never been able to do more than dog paddle and float.

My dad waited about 3 days. Then we had this conversation (and yes – it was one-sided)…

Bets. I’ve been thinking about something you said.

It’s total bullshit.

You can learn to swim just like you learned to run and bike and control diabetes and lose weight.

Quit saying you can’t and *&^%ing figure out a way to learn how.

All righty then…

Being called out by my dad started me on a stop-n-go journey.

My friend Drew gave me the name of a well respected swim coach.

I didn’t call for 3 months.

Finally called and took things no further.

Then purposefully forgot about it all and figured — HEY, I’d called a swim coach. That was at least ONE step in the right direction… Right?


Spencer and I gave our Novo Veritas presentation this past March.  After the presentation a guy walked up to chat.

He said…

‘I’m Troy.  You may not remember, but you called me about being your swim coach, a long time ago…  You ready to start lessons?’

Gulp.

Truth?  I’m SCARED of the water.

Mostly I’m scared of trying to breath and having water nearby.  Like ANYWHERE near my face.

I finally told Troy about this near-phobia I have with water as a way of lamely explaining why I had never followed through the first time I contacted him about lessons.

He assured me he would be able to help me learn to swim.

The part I didn’t tell him?  I have body image issues; big time. To say that I am not thrilled about being in a swimsuit in front of ,oh — ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING — is a bit of an understatement. And then there’s this whole NEW learning curve that involves using my body for something athletic (did I mention this has to be done in a swimsuit?) and someone was going to be watching me…

Let’s just say I knew full well that I would be dragging a ton of baggage with me into the pool.

I called Troy. We set up a time to get swim lessons started.  I was ridiculously nervous for DAYS before the first lesson.

We’re on swim lesson #11 right now.

And LORD is this man a patient coach and teacher.

I get frustrated with myself when I don’t learn things instantly or see profound progress.  I’m battling consistently present fear.  Some of my  good friends can tell you, I’m a peach when I’m embarrassed, scared or frustrated with myself.  Just trust me — if you don’t know me very well — Troy really is approaching sainthood to have hung in with me this long. 🙂

For weeks I was literally having panic attacks/hyperventilating on the freestyle swim.  EVEN though I can literally put my feet on the bottom of the pool at any given moment, anywhere in the lap pool.

While I’m still battling some fear about breathing/water…

Even I have to admit that it is getting much better.

I’m actually gaining some confidence in the water.

I told Troy after the 4th or 5th lesson ‘I think the life guards are finally looking a little more relaxed when I’m in the pool.’ 🙂


Friday’s lesson was a really good one for me mentally.

Troy and I had a good conversation during my lesson when I arrived at the end of a lap still struggling with breathing and gasping for air…

You just have to get comfortable with the learning…

Yes.  This is about learning. Not just about swimming.  Huh.  I felt like a lightbulb finally clicked ON!

While I have to figure out how to stay calm and remember ALL of the things I’m supposed to be doing to move in the water, Troy’s main point was that I need to simply appreciate the process of learning something new.

Get comfortable – once again – with the bumps and bruises and non-linear flow and FUN of LEARNING.

Give myself a small measure of grace for simply facing my fears and really trying to learn to swim.

Give myself some forgiveness for getting one thing right even if I get 5 things wrong.

Give myself a dose of patience for learning a new skill, while keeping up my other training.

Laugh at and WITH myself as I learn.

Troy has been trying to help me enjoy the process ALL along. I was too blind to the mechanics of a totally new sport and my avid fear of the water to see what he has REALLY been trying to teach me until this past week.

So after talking to Troy I spent the weekend thinking about a few things.  Namely that I really want to focus on embracing and LOVING the process of learning.

I LOVED learning how to run. I LOVED learning how to control blood sugars successfully and how to ride a bike and how to do a sit up.  I struggled in the moment and I certainly hated parts of those processes, but the deep sense of accomplishment you get when you really understand and learn a new skill is something I seem to have forgotten all about.


I told Troy from the very start of our lessons that I had big goals…

  • I want to do an Ironman.
  • I want swimming in my ‘tool kit’ for cross-training.
  • I want to be able to throw swimming in for cardio should I sustain a running or biking injury.

And yet what I told Troy I wanted MOST from learning to swim?

I really want to be one of those sassy and funny 90-year old ladies rocking the swim cap, confident in her swimsuit and kicking everyone’s ass in a slow, soothing, methodical, lap-fest that last for hours.

What fear are you working to conquer?

2 thoughts on “Swimming. (Dragging baggage into the pool…)

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