Monday, July 2, 2012

Paying it Forward

About 15 months removed from my first terrifying open water swim, today I accompanied a buddy of mine on his first much-less-terrifying swim.  I'll always remember how hard that first swim was for me as I struggled to make it from buoy to buoy, breathing heavily each time I stopped to rest.  I had hardly learned to swim in a pool and being out in the open was pretty nerve-wracking.  Luckily for me I had a great support system that day, each one of my fellow swimmers reassuring me that everyone's first swim is an adventure. 

Today I was the sage - well not really.  The main difference between me and my friend is that although he just begin true swim/triathlon training, he has always been able to swim.  Taking his stroke from the pool to the open water was just a formality, one which he did with ease.  We met at Lloyd Hardor intending to hook up with a local triathlon group that supposedly swims there on Monday nights.  After waiting well beyond when others should have arrived and making one too many "Bueller, Bueller" jokes we headed out on our own.  

The sun was shining bright and hot as it began to set, and the water was flat, calm, and while cold at first it was actually the perfect temperature.  We swam for about 40 mins total (with much more time spent on the way back, fighting what turned out to be a significant current).  Our pacing was almost identical (I've worked hard to make it to this pace) which was only mildly humbling because I know he has always been a swimmer.  He's currently signed up for a sprint and the almost 1 mile we swam today clearly showed how easy the 800 meters will be for him.

Without the typical "training wheels" of other swimmers who are actually capable of sighting I focused a lot today on my sighting technique.  It was a struggle at first but I am proud to say I made major strides and feel more comfortable sighting than I ever have.  

The best part of my swim though had to be when I just stopped thinking.  It's a rare aquatic occurrence for me to be comfortable enough to stop focusing on my breathing and stroke technique and just swim.  But today was different.  In one of my first OWSs this year there was actually a point during the swim when I thought,"wow, I feel like I can do this forever."  My buddy was quick to remind me what a good thing that is considering that in Arizona I will swim almost 3 times what I swam today. 

I have many more outside swims to come this summer and I'm glad to have someone that I will hopefully swim with many more times and a great nearby beach to head to.

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