Two years ago when I started swimming with the Britannia Swim Gang, I was adamant that I would not swim Bring On The Bay (BOTB). Nope, just wanted to be in the water swimming – no events/races for me.
Thanks to my swimming friends who slowly but surely planted seeds encouraging me to get out for more swims, convinced me to join a masters swim club, and helped me set some swim goals – I changed my mind and today, I did the Bring On The Bay 3 km swim.
A few years ago I gave a talk at the Bushtukah S.W.E.E.T night where I talked about controlling the controllables, having a support system, believing in yourself, and harnessing the power of the reset button.
Well, I tell you – I used these tools and more today during the 3 km swim from the Nepean Yacht Club to the Britannia Yacht Club.
In the days leading up to today’s swim – I was nervous. I was freaked out. I was making this swim into something more than it was. At one point I even heard the voice in my head say “this swim is bigger than the cyclocross world championships and the taekwon-do world championships”… Yes, I was steadily doing a good job of creating a very large anxiety tornado.
Thankfully I have an incredible support system of people who know me and know that I tend to place immense pressure on myself. The text chats, phone calls, hugs, real life conversations – they all made a massive difference for me. Thank you.
Thanks to Lesley we have been practicing and thinking about different scenarios that could have happened today. We practiced jumping off the dock. We practiced not sinking when landing in the water. We practiced swimming in traffic. We practiced sighting when the water feels alive. We practiced accelerating. We were ready. Each week and each practice, we slowly but surely chipped away at the controllables, so that today we’d have the composure to respond and react without panicking.
Knowing that we had done this practice and that I had swam 3 km multiple times this summer – really made a big difference for me. On Friday I finally managed to stop making this into more than it was. It’s a swim. I can do this. I can do the distance. I’ve done the work to control the controllables.
The swim went by in a blur. I have my watch set to vibrate every 500 meters so this helped me know where I was along the course. When I felt the 2,000 meter vibration, I could feel myself smiling inside. I was doing it! I was getting close! I can do this!
The water was bumpy and frothy. It wasn’t windy but I presume this was due to the number of people in the water this morning. The sighting practice we’ve been doing paid off huge. I still managed to drift wide but thankfully there were some very helpful kayakers who didn’t hold back with yelling at me and getting me pointed in the correct direction.
I hit my trusty reset button multiple times today. Swallow water – no problem – this has happened before. Nauseous – no big – this happens when I swim in bumpy water. Need to get some gas out – burp it out – this happens to people with ileostomies and barbie butts. Feeling a bit too close to people – head down – accelerate and keep on swimming. Voice in my head is telling me I’m tired – talk back immediately – I’m not tired – I’m doing great – keep swimming – right arm, left arm. Feel myself sinking – use my checklist – suck in my gut, tighten my bum, reach and roll, look back, alligator eyes, keep the legs together, breathe, exhale.
When I climbed that red ladder and landed on the dock with wobbly legs, I was overcome with emotion. A combination of relief, celebration, pride, and fatigue – I finally believed I could and I did it.
It was so awesome to see my friends and hear them cheering for me. It was so fantastic to hear about everyone’s swim and to be surrounded by smiling people.
Having a body that allows me to do things like swim, bike, play hockey, and enjoy life is a true gift.
Three years ago I was nervous about swimming with an ileostomy. Two years ago I started open water swimming. And today I did a swimming event. (And in August I’m swimming the 4 km at Riverkeeper)
Believe in yourself. You are whoever you want to be. You can do that thing that seems out of reach right now. I did it – and so can you.