I did it! Thanks to a Family Day holiday with open pools and an early morning text from Monica, I finally made it back into the water. Was I nervous? No. I was absolutely terrified. But that fear disappeared as soon as we had changed; we both had the same style and colour of swimsuit and the same googles, and that made me laugh. This was the obvious sign that my swim was meant to happen.
Being Family Day, though, the Y was busy. Three lanes were set aside for adult lengths, and they were crowded. Being a “newbie,” I headed straight to the slow lane and, yes, I was the slowest. Before I started, a speedy 10 year oldish boy turned at the wall and while I had doubts about my own ability, I swallowed them and pushed off. Ten strokes in, I stopped. “Man, this is hard!” I thought. “How am I ever going to make to the end of the pool?” But I started again, imagining that every set of lifeguard’s eyes were on me, worried that I might start flailing my arms in distress. When I finished the 25 metres, my heart was pumping. I needed to rest.
When I was ready, I headed back to the other side, this time without stopping. That was progress. I took another long break; I needed it. I felt discouraged and out of shape. But I also remembered having these feelings years before. I swam in high school and stopped, only to start again when I was in my late twenties. I clearly recalled what a struggle that was as I pushed off again and swam my third length. Then, half way down the pool, I had a flashback to a recent conversation with my husband after he had peeled potatoes for dinner that night.
“That was the hardest thing that I’ve done in my life!” he said. “It’s absolutely impossible. You have to hold onto those itty bitty potatoes and peel them? How do you do that. I can’t do that again. It’s too hard.”
“Nope, this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done in my life,” I thought as I worked my way down the pool. “Peeling potatoes is nothing compared to this.”
I met Monica after 200 metres of back and forth. “I’m at 8. Anything from here on it great. I’ve met my target; I’m swimming.” I did have another target, suggested by my son earlier in the morning.
“How your cardio?” he asked.
“Um, I think it’s fine. I’m on the bike for an hour.”
“Then you should be fine with 1000 metres.”
I gulped. “A thousand metres?!!” I hesitated. “Challenge accepted.”
I had kept this to myself and, as I stood proud of my 8 lengths, I wondered how I would make it to 40. “This is like doing a track workout,” I told Monica a few lengths later. “I push myself, then rest, push myself then rest. It’s hard.” It wasn’t long, though, until I had shortened the breaks between each length and was swimming 50 metres at a time. I lost track of my distance after 500 metres and lost count again after another 400 metres. At that point, I just stopped counting. I didn’t care. I was swimming, I was hitting 1000 metres, and I was proud of myself. By the end of the swim, I was swimming 100 metres at a time and think I covered a total of 1200 to 1400 metres.
Judging by today’s sore triceps (which could, in fact be a result of breaking up a driveway covered in ice over the weekend) I may have done more than I was ready for. But I did something that I didn’t think I would be able to do. I set a new bar and I know that I am going to be able to keep raising the bar.
On Monday, I challenged myself and did much better than I expected. I’m still smiling. I’m proud of myself. This is the challenge that I need right now and, lucky or not, there is lots of room for growth.