Reflecting on my open-water swimming adventures over the past year I shake my head with disbelief. And then… I smile.
I was never supposed to be a swimmer. Late to the sport in 2009, my goal was simply to move freely without limping. I wanted to be like everyone else. And, luckily, in the water nobody could tell I had a limp. Dipping my toe in the pool for the first time since physical education at elementary school, I chose my goal.
I decided to swim from one end of the pool to the other.
One length. One goal.
Soon, that teeny tiny goal grew. I remember telling myself I couldn’t get out of the water until I swum 80 lengths. An arbitrary number, my goal was taking on a life of its own.
I didn’t realize at the time, but upon taking the challenge a few months later – a dare to swim in the San Francisco Bay without a wetsuit – I discovered that I was capable of much more.
I tasked myself with completing a 1 mile circumnavigation of Aquatic Park in San Francisco.
It was a slippery slope, though, because once again, that goal grew.
I wanted to swim from Alcatraz.
On June 12th 2010 - my 33rd birthday - together with a group of very special Dolphin Club friends who encouraged and guided me to shore, I completed that goal. My very first Alcatraz swim.
But somewhere along the way the thought of goals turned to dreams. Dreams so big, I feared I could not achieve them.
Yet, I discovered that these dreams and my curiosity to see how far I could go despite the risk of failure, were a driving force within me. My inner monologue transformed from “What if I couldn’t do it?” to “What if I really could do it?”
I wanted to find out.
Cook Strait, Lake Tahoe, Molokai Channel. I wanted to dip my toe in the water, just as I had dipped my toe in the pool back in 2009, and challenge myself to see what I was made of.
And, with each of these open water challenges, this curiosity for the unknown increasingly fueled my desire for adventure. I would do my very best to train and prepare, but, as my Mum says “come what may.”
This unknown only heightened my attraction to adventure. To dare so great you experience something you can’t possibly conceive of in an ordinary day: to feel so tremendously and wholly alive.
I had a million reasons why I shouldn’t have attempted any of those swims, not the least of which was my lack of experience. For some, such as the Cook Strait I had no real organized swim experience and had never attempted anything nearly as bold. In fact, today as I write this, I have only been getting in the water for 3 years, and have only been training with an organized swim program for just over a year.
But I also had just as many reasons why I should have attempted those swims.
And now, because of this, I have even more reasons why I will attempt my upcoming swims.
Hello 2013. Let’s do this.