Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before! I swam a competitive 1/2 mile in the Schuykill River. For those from the Philadelphia area…let me say it again I SWAM IN THE SCHUYKILL RIVER!
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a “swimmer”. My extent of swim lessons are childhood memories from day camp taking daily swim tests to move from the shallow to the deep end of the pool. I always made it to deep end by the end of day 2 and was usually there by myself because no one else could pass the test that quickly.
Yesterday’s, swim is a result of training for my upcoming triathlon, the Philly TriRock. I’m part of a relay team (TEAM RAD), where my husband is doing the swim but I wanted to take the open water swim training with him for moral support and in the event I decided to one day embark on a full triathlon solo! He’s not a swimmer either, however he’s been training with a swim coach for the last month or so…so he was much more prepared then I was for yesterday’s open water swim training hosted by MEMRacing.
I call this entry “taking the plunge” because that’s exactly what I did yesterday. Before I scooted off the dock of the Philadelphia Swim Club, I cleared my mind of all the doubts and and my lack of training. Instead I relied on the fundamentals and recalled my childhood camp swim test so I knew enough that I wouldn’t drown. With that and a prayer, off the dock I went into the water. As I entered the water I had a few thoughts of “what did I just do” “I don’t need to do this I’m not even swimming in the triathlon” but I quickly pushed them aside. I was in a fight or flight mindset and fleeing wasn’t an option! I stepped up to the fight with every stroke, every kick and every breath! Every time a fleeing thought popped into my mind, I prayed remembering that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! Praying helped to clear my mind and settle my breathing giving me the power to push on.
Without the proper training, I quickly excepted that this wasn’t going to be a sprint. One stroke, kick, breath at a time using the life guards on their boards as rest stops as I needed them. I told myself to rest before i got to the point of fatigue so i wasn’t struggling. There were orange buoys approximately every 100 yards so my goal was to make it from buoy to buoy with continuous movement advancing me forward! Any movement was acceptable, any stroke that was moving me closer to the turn around – that BIG YELLOW BUOY.
The elementary backstroke and breast stroke seemed to be my favorites:
The elementary backstroke because it allowed me an unobstructed view of the heavens which gave me peace. The view also allowed me to sight and orient my direction using the clouds. There is minimal splashing from this stroke and my ears were submerged so it allowed me to hear my breathing and regulate it as needed. My arms were killing me from swimming freestyle for the first 200 yards so it also allowed me to rest them.
The breaststroke because, while slowly it still allowed me to continue advancing without the added strain on my shoulders.
I decided to wear a wetsuit for the extra buoyancy. However, it was borrowed and didn’t fit me properly. I actually felt like it restricted my movements and limited my lung capacity. I may try swimming with one that fits better again because it did provide warmth in the cold water but overall I didn’t like how it made me feel.
In the end I stopped thinking about the total 1/2 mile distance and just focused on making it from orange buoy to orange buoy! When I reached the yellow buoy, it was time to turn around and head back to the dock – the finish line! In my mind if I made it out, I can make it back! I had to continuously pray and push those fleeing thoughts out of my mind! Beore you knew it…they were whistling and beckoning to me that I passed the finish line, I was DONE come on in!
I don’t know what a good time is and frankly this time I didn’t care! All that matters to me is that I finished! I swam 1/2 mile in an open body of water (THE SCHUYKILL at that)! When I climbed out, it felt like 2 hours had passed but they told me I finished in 40 minutes! I immediately thanked God and smiled! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED and maybe I’ll put this training to use in the Steelman Triathlon in August but definitely next year in the Philly TriRock!
Take you plunge and let me know all about it but commenting on this post!
Living Transparently on Purpose