Well, I made it back into the pool this week.
After 8 weeks off.
It was ugly.
Swimming is my strongest discipline in the event of triathlon. Thank you Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa. I was spoiled as a kid – still am if I’m honest about it. Every summer, after the national dance competition was over, my mom and I would fly down to Boynton Beach, Florida. Mom would stay for a week and then head home to the lake. I would stay until labor day with my grandparents – a plane ticket was actually cheaper than summer camp. My grandparents would enroll me in swim and diving lessons to keep me busy. On the days I didn’t have lessons it was off to the pool in their retirement community, until I got thrown out at 1pm for being under 16. This resulted in my nickname “the fish” I could swim lengths of the pool under water in one breath, I could ‘chick’ the boys in butterfly, and I could fling myself off the high dive with the older kids. Other summers when nationals lasted longer then the end of June, mom would sign me up for the swim team at the lake. Teaching me early on, you don’t need to see to know where the end of the lane is. And seaweed isn’t like the grindylows in Harry Potter – shake it off!
15+ years later, I’m still the fish and not much bothers me in the open water. I am thankful for this gift every time I rush into the water at a race. That’s not to say that swimming doesn’t come without work. I work at it. My stroke is far from Tri efficient and after 8 weeks off my gills are non-existent. BUT! It felt so good to jump in that over chlorinated pool and forget all the things in life that were bothering me. My arms are sore and my lungs burn but after months of PT and time off I’m relishing those feelings.
My Tri Sistas always ask me, “how do you do it?” The first time my response was “Do what?” The truth is, I really don’t know. I just always loved the water. Like Brad Paisley, ‘Water’ love. When I’m waiting for the gun to go off at a race, I don’t think about the swim. I think about the transition afterward. When I’m in the water. I don’t think about the people around me or the fish and the waves. I think about the buoy, and counting – 1,2,3 breath, 1,2,3 breath, and exhaling the entire time my face is in the water.
And if I have to because I’ve been pummeled by another swimmer I chant:
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”