My Inspiration for Distance Swimming
Many moons ago while navigating a difficult time in life, I decided triathlon training was the way to anchor my spirits, expend my angst and stay as healthy and focused as possible in the eye of a personal storm. Looking back I realize it was a rather extreme choice, but the sport delivered the desired effect albeit in a grueling kind of way. And it was a healthier choice than self-medicating with red wine and chocolate! With strong running and cycling legs the weak link was swimming. I hired a swim coach and once a week, coach followed me up and down the pool deck and after each length he knelt down and described my stroke pattern and what I needed to change to improve my efficiency. More reach, more roll, less lift of the head. All the things I had no idea I was doing incorrectly, and all the things that were slowing me down. I was keen to transform my stroke to something that might get me through my first triathlon with some modicum of comfort. And maybe a little speed.
The focus required in the pool to practice coach’s pointers was just what the doctor ordered. I remember watching the black line at the bottom of the pool and deciding that for the next 45 minutes, all I would think about was the delicious solitude beneath the water, the rhythm of my breathing pattern, and the focus on my stroke technique. Reach, roll, inhale, pull, exhale. I had unintentionally created a swimming meditation. Every time a distracting thought floated into my consciousness, I purposely brought myself back to the stroke, the breath and the black stripe at the bottom of the pool.
The morning of the triathlon I woke early to a spectacular spring day, strapped my second-hand Peugeot 10 speed to the back of my old Malibu Classic and focused on dispelling the butterflies in my stomach. While driving through the UBC Endowment lands the song “I Feel Good” came on the radio. It was the perfect anthem for my day. I cranked the volume and enthusiastically belted out the words along with James Brown manifesting the lyrics “I feel good, like I knew I would!”
Twenty six years later I find myself back in the pool training for a very different kind of event with a more focused mind and a less willing body – such are the gifts of time! Whatever your reasons are to jump in the water, grab James Brown’s lyrics, dive in and train up for Bowen Island’s first annual 1000 metre open water swim on July 21st. All proceeds benefit the SwimBowen Society supporting Bowen Islander’s in active cancer treatment. Registration is now sold out! For more information go to swimbowen.com. Sponsor a swimmer! Sign up to volunteer!