Last year, a my friend Trevor suggested this 5ish k open water swim to me as a nice swim, flat water in the past and great support. I decided to sign up around New Years Eve and made a plan to increase my swim distances in the pool through the winter. I did manage one long open water swim the week before and swam the whole distance so I knew I was ready.
|Trevor and I|
We arrived in Kingston on Canada Day and I headed for kit pickup on the shore of Lake Ontario. I was not planning on going to a practice swim but Deborah recommended it. The Lake looked rough and the forecast for Saturday was the same so I thought I should get some practice in. I had never swam in anything so rough and choppy and I was getting worried. I tried to do the 500m swim but I drank the lake several times and really started to panic.
Saturday morning was nice and sunny and windy and the waves still looked rough, I was not sure I could do this or that I wanted to do this. I was trying to stay calm but the pre-race briefing did not help much. Anita and Andre showed up to cheer me on with Neale and Stephen; Anita knew how panicked I was but told me I could do it and I knew I needed to start. I had all these negative thoughts in my head, I could not do it, I was not a good enough swimmer, what if I had to stop midway through...the same old tape that plays in my head every time.
|Looking terrified with Neale and Stephen before|
I decided I had to start, I would do 1k and then decide, 1 k at a time if I needed to but I was not going to quit without trying. I knew 11 people, including two that morning pulled out of the swim but like last year at the Ironman, I knew that giving up/not starting would hurt more than trying, giving my all and failing.
Eventually we got close to Garden Island and I heard cheering, I stopped and went over to my Kayaker and took in a gel. I looked around and noticed there were people on the point cheering us on and that made me feel great. Around the island I could see the bottom and that is comforting to me, I looked around and saw wood and weeds, zebra muscles and rocks and I could see I was going forward. The waves slacked off a bit in the shelter of the island and I started having fun. Mike, my kayaker said I made great progress in this section, a straight line and I even passed another swimmer.
|Mike and I before the swim|
I entered Lake Ontario full of doubt and exited full of joy and hope, the waves that bounced me around cleansed my soul and chased away my negative thoughts. I always think I am not good enough, that I can`t do the task ahead of me but time and time again my body and heart have a different plan and it is that one I want to keep following.
As Neale`s coach Ray Zahab says ...