Driving to pick up my friend Louise this morning on the way to the Riverkeeper Open Water Swim, this thought popped into my head, “why do we sign up for these kinds of events? Why do we put ourselves through these challenges?”
This is why:
For the people you meet and become friends with along the way. No one gets to an event like a 4 km open water swim alone.
I certainly could not have done this without the amazing human hugging me in this photo.
Friendship. Camaraderie. Support. Confidence. Community. Strength.
People. It’s the people that make these kinds of events so worth doing.
Seeing people chat and hang out before the race – talking through their nerves and encouraging one another. Then at the end, seeing and hearing people cheering, talking about their race, congratulating one another, hugging, laughing, and just being so dang nice.
This is why I do these events. Yes, I get nervous. Yes, I have lots of self-doubt. Yes, I am tired afterwards. But all of this is so worth it when you see your friends accomplish big goals and do the thing they weren’t sure they could do.
Today I battled my head for the first 1 km. I had serious thoughts about stopping. My brain was a swirling cauldron of negative self-talk. But I tried to remind myself of the people rooting for me. And I kept swimming. Right arm. Left arm. Keep going. Make it to the sailboat – if you still feel like garbage then reevaluate.
And guess what? I got to the sailboat, turned left and hit the most beautiful calm water. The sun was shining. And then I started swimming. I relaxed.
I heard Lesley’s voice reminding me to reach and roll. I could hear Filippo telling me to stay relaxed. I remembered meeting Louise at the pool for the first time and our locker room chats. I imagined I was swimming with Nina at Murphy’s Point. I thought about Megan and how she is so graceful in the water. I remembered the early days of open water swimming with Aimee, Julie, Diane, Tom, Nadine, and Candace – how they encouraged me and welcomed me to their swimming group.
Friends. People. This is what it’s all about.