“What if they get annoyed with me because I won’t really know what I am doing?”
“I’ve never done a structured workout. What if I get really confused and look stupid?”
“What if the coaches get annoyed with me. What if I don’t get faster and won’t know how to do something, like read the clock?”
“I don’t know how to do a flip turn. Will that slow people down?”
Believe it or not but these were some of the thoughts that were running through my mind a year ago when I started swimming with Davis Aquatic Masters (DAM). Most of these thoughts I shared with my husband (whom has been swimming since he came out of the womb). He would reassure me that they (coaches and swimmers) would be really welcoming but I could not help but feel like a kid that was on her way to start a new school. All the scary “what if’s” flooded my mind. Yes, I was THAT anxious. Since 2007 I have been racing triathlon and before this past year I had never attended a masters workout. Despite that I had done fairly well in triathlon. I consciously or subconsciously succumbed to the fears of the “what if’s” until now.
You see, I am the person that likes to go into any situation prepared. I like to have a certain amount of experience and competency before jumping into unfamiliar territories of work, life, and sport. However, I am also a person who does not back down from a challenge and I keep my word, despite how scared I may be. In my life I realized that I’ve always done pretty well in novel situations, mainly race or performance, because I do not know what to expect. Not having the pressure of external expectations is a good thing for me. It’s my wildcard.
That is until I jumped in (the slowest lane) and started my first master’s workout. At that moment all the “what ifs” disappeared and were replaced with feelings of excitement, challenge, and hunger. That first workout invited the questions:
“What could I do?”
“How much faster could I get?”
“What do I need to do to get faster?”
“How do I learn to flip turn?”
“What was I actually good at?” (I soon found out that it was my kick that needed the least work)
I felt a confidence that was not there before. I was doing the thing that I thought I could not…
And at the age of 32 (I’m now 33) I fell in love with the challenge and camaraderie of masters swimming. It felt good to be learning something new at 32, to feel a challenge, exhilaration, a hunger that made me want to be better- not just at swimming, but as a person. I have developed a deep respect and humility for what it takes to be a “swimmer” – the patience with technique, the endurance and focus, and commitment day in and day out. It’s not just the swimming, it’s a way of living, and each one of my lane mates, team members, and coaches have taught me that over this year.
So for anyone that follows my posts and pictures on Facebook or Twitter may question or even think, “another swimming post?” “another picture of the pool?!” “why not put something else up?” because swimming and masters has changed my life. Over the year, DAM has been the steady constant amongst the many changes in my life. It has been my fiercest competitor, my best supporter, my solitude, my comfort, and my meditation.
Thank you Coach Stu and Coach Kerry for your patience, direction, patience, support, patience, encouragement, and patience. Oh wait, did I mention patience. It was a big learning curve and I still have a ways to go but I know I’m not doing it alone. Thank you!
Thank you to my hubster, Ken, for being my biggest supporter, encourager, and human alarm clock. It was you that planted the seeds in 2011 that if I wanted to get faster in triathlon it was time for me to focus on my swim.
It is my hope that you will be inspired to learn something new, no matter what age you are. Something that elicits the fear in you. Something that pushes you so far from your comfort zone that makes you feel so uncomfortable, challenged, that you can not help but come back to it day in and day out, even if it is at the cost of getting up at 5 AM in the morning 4-5 days a week.
FYI: I significantly improved over 2012. Here are some big goals I accomplished:
- I did learn how to flip turn thanks to Coach Kerry’s gentle but persistent encouragement.
- I got faster. My 1.25 mi swim split dropped approximately 5 minutes in the 70.3 triathlon distance.
- I improved my endurance. My USMS One-Hour Postal Swim yards increased by 20% from 2012 to 2013.
- My freestyle stroke technique is more efficient and is getting progressively getting stronger and more refined.
If you dare to go beyond your fears you will find that there are no limits, but inspite of the fear you find a whole lotta confidence and strength. Keep reaching for your peak and SHINE ON!
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