Today I’m doing something I’ve been daydreaming about for over a year now – entering an open water race.
This may not seem like a big deal, but my entire swim career I have been exclusively a pool swimmer. I did complete one open water 5k in Ocean City in high school and it just wasn’t for me.
It was an hour of sheer panic. There was something eerie about swimming with an unknown body of water beneath me, something terrifying about suddenly coming upon random warm and cold patches in the ocean. I didn’t like leaving the comfort of my faithful friend, the black line. Swimming in the ocean for me was like swimming with a stranger. I wasn’t afraid of creatures, just the vastness of the water below. I finished and never swam in open water again.
This swim I have been dreaming about feels different. A little over a year ago a fellow Masters swimmer told me he was training for a marathon swim in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s called the Sri Chimnoy Marathon Swim and it’s 26km (~16 miles) across Lake Zurich. So, in addition to my open water fears, this is not just any swim. It’s long.
If you’re thinking, that sounds crazy – I agree. Every time I bring it up my husband gives me a raised eyebrow. Swimming this will take me conquering some pretty large personal obstacles, but the length alone is what worries me the most. Can I even swim that much at one time? And in open water that I’m not used to?
There was one other time in my life that I swam that much in one day, 30,000 yards to be exact, in a pool. My high school coach had this day he called “Texas Ranger Day” and it marked the most challenging part of our season. It was one day to see how far you could go, how long you could push yourself. Now granted I was 16 and in the best shape of my life, but I did it. I had suit burns so bad the next day I couldn’t get in the water.
I am a lot older now and I will never be that in shape again, I know that. But remembering that day gives me confidence. Its kind of amazing how one swimming memory can come full circle and inspire me for an entirely new challenge years later. It will take a lot of prepping, mental coaching, and work to find open water to practice in, but I just can’t get this swim out of my head, so today is the day I register.
To be clear, there is no guarantee that I get accepted. There are a limited number of spots for people that won’t have their own boat crew, and there’s a hierarchy and method to the way they select. Some people wait years for the opportunity, so I’m going in knowing that it may not happen this year, and that’s okay.
In the meantime I’ll continue to hit the pool and hopefully get a few chances to swim Masters meets. The selection is in December, so I won’t make any drastic changes to my training routine until I get word if I’m in.
So now this goal is out there in the wild, on the internet where nothing is ever really deleted, never to return to my head. No chickening out. Wish me luck…