OWS. That’s open water swim in case you wondered. I finally did my first one yesterday. My tri coach took me to a sweet baby lake, but in my head might as well have been an angry surf off the coast of Kona. We squeezed into our wetsuits and went for it. The sandy bottom did not bother me in the least. The green murkiness of the water and fact that I couldn’t see the bottom didn’t bother me either. I loved and longed for those split seconds when I could lift my face to the air and see the bright sunshine. Sun I heart you. Truth be told this was the first time I’ve had my face in a lake. Ever. I’m the girl who goes in up to her knees. That’s it.
We swam out to a diving platform and immediately back a couple of times. Nerves took me out way too fast. As if fast would keep me afloat. I headed off course too. Picking my head up to sight throws me out of my swimming rhythm and it takes a fair degree of flailing…um, I mean energy…to regain it. Coach told me to calm down and go slow.
Then THEN she wanted me to swim out, around the platform and back. Um that’s kind of a long way. I’m used to having the edge of the pool to pause at and cling to whenever I wanted. There could be no clinging here. I did a dog crap job of sighting again and swam more than I had to. When I finally got behind the platform, coach had me flip on my back. It was heavenly to rest. And effortless. Score. By the time I made it back to the beach, I was seriously entertaining the thought of bagging the tri. I sucked that much. I more than half expected my coach to recommend bagging the tri. Instead she suggested we go out again. Ugh. This time was a little better. A little calmer. Although when I headed toward the shore my heart raced as though a shark was tailing me and I couldn’t get there fast enough for my taste.
Coach talked me out of my tree and we did it again. This time she swam just ahead so I used the turbulence from her kick as a guide instead of picking my head up. This was better. I stayed calmer. No back float. I made it around. And back. Mission accomplished.
Overall I thought it went poorly. I was ashamed to still be such a water weenie after all these months of training. I was this close to breaking down in tears right in front of my coach.
Track Night. I met the tri team later that evening for a pace ladder on the track which, despite the heat, I spanked. Partly to make up for the shitty open water swim and partly because, compared to the water, the track feels like home. It’s comfy, with plenty of air. It was a confidence booster or an ego booster, call it what you will.
That night, my coach said she was surprised to see me. That many don’t return after their first open water swim. She told me it was common for new swimmers to freak out into a full-blown panic in open water. COMMON. And impressed I did not. She said the swim I did today was LONGER than what was in the tri. Wait, what? I did not expect that.
This whole learning-to-swim process has been such a mental struggle. Such a roller coaster of emotions. Confident one minute, hopeless the next. Whatever Sunday brings, if…I mean WHEN…I emerge from that water and finally slay the swim dragon that lives in my head, that will be one of my biggest triumphs ever.
What have you struggled with and conquered? What scares you?
I’m thinking out loud today and linking up with the lovely Amanda.