So this is what happened… Three years ago I started swimming. I’ve always hated swimming, yet a sudden urge possessed me and I followed my instincts. I could barely swim one track then without swallowing buckets of water and an intense feeling of drowning. That was the short 25 meter, mind you, not the long 50 meter track. It must have been a fairly pathetic sight, but I persisted.
Twice a week I jumped into the pool. My early visits were often no more than 20 minutes long, but it got better. With time. Week by week. Month by month. Eventually I hit the point where just swimming was a little boring. My friend had shown me a few ways to practice my technique and my physical awareness through yoga really helped improving my stroke and position in the water. But I felt like I needed a bit more structure, a plan to go by. So I downloaded a training plan from the internet. With that plan, for each visit to the pool, I had solid instructions what to swim. And I did.
This is what may sound a bit silly… I just recently took a closer look at this training plan I had downloaded and I realized, that I had been training for a marathon. Yes. You know – that swimming part of an Ironman or a Challenge? Swimming 3.9 km / 2.4 mi? Yes, that. Oops.
Here I am today. Something I had originally not really thought possible and perhaps not even desirable is now entirely within reach. I am not saying I would look elegant swimming that distance or be among the first to finish, but I am fairly confident I could do it.
This whole experience has shown me that sometimes it’s good not to have goals. While goals are great to give us direction and purpose, sometimes they can also block us. Had I begun training with the intention of participating in an Ironman or a Challenge (with a relay team, of course), I would have given up many times along the way. Instead I took pleasure in the task, I truly enjoyed the practice. Yes, there were certainly days when I dreaded getting up in the morning and jumping into the water, but that’s part of any game. By relieving myself of the pressure to achieve a certain performance by a certain time I took the heat off. And now it turns out that just taking it step by step, I covered the distance anyways.
To be honest, 2014 we were in Roth, visiting the Datev Challenge (an Ironman distance triathlon) and I have always been fascinated with the atmosphere at these competitions. For this one weekend in the year, the small village is bursting with athletes, supporters and fans. That weekend I briefly had the thought: if I ever particpated in the Challenge, I would swim. I guess that’s where the motivation was sparked.
I am still undecided if I ever will participate in a race. It would still require some practice and preparation. At the same time it would have to be just for the fun of it. Maybe it will happen, maybe not. But it’s a good feeling to know that it could.