Oh my goodness! I’m not going to drown! I’m also not going to panic! I can swim!
I feel that I should give you all a little of my swimming history, in point format, to help you understand exactly why the swimming portion of the triathlon is so scary for me:
- I grew up in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, so swimming is not really a foreign experience for me.
- Like any normal Minnesotan, I took swimming lessons as a kid.
- I failed the same swimming class twice before my mother let me quit swimming lessons.
- The reason I failed swimming lessons is because I could not rhythmic breathe. I tried, but I would start breathing really fast, and just couldn’t get it down.
- This inability to rhythmic breathe was never really a major problem for me – I still spent my summers swimming at the lake, and could swim an appropriate distance – I just kept my head out of the water!
- I decided that I wanted to learn to swim 2 years ago when I running injury left me so incapacitated that I could not even bike…swimming was the only option.
- I still could not rhythmic breath, even though I was a grown adult, and had to teach myself how by focusing on one swimming technique at a time.
- Eventually I could swim like real swimmer! (E.g. the whole length of the pool, and with my face in the water!)
- However, when I completed my first triathlon, I found that swimming in open water is a LOT more difficult then swimming in a pool, and my amazing new swim skills took second stage to my panicking during the swim.
- My goal this year when I complete the Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri is to panic less during the swim. However, the race is in 2 weeks, and I’ve only swam a couple of times.
So with that background in place, you can understand my shock when I went open-water swimming this past weekend, and didn’t freak out! It was amazing! I just…swam. No fear!
How did I accomplish this? Well, through a little something called “exposure.” See, if you’re scared of something and you avoid said thing, you typically remain scared of the thing. Avoidance breeds fear. HOWEVER, when you face your fear, gradually your body and mind get used to the feared thing, and your fear lessens. Exposure is the process of facing your fear, and it typically results in reduced fear!
For me, I was scared of rhythmic breathing in open water. Last year I had 3 open water swim practices (all involving panic), and 1 triathlon swim (also involving panic). Each open water experience was a bit easier than the previous experience, but I still found myself pretty scared on race day. Well, fifth time’s a charm! Lindsay and I went swimming at Five Mile Lake this past weekend, and while I had a nightmare the night before our practice, on the day of, I just paddled around like Ariel, singing at the top of my lungs, happy as can be!
So there you have it! Face your fears, friends! You CAN do it!
What fear have you overcome lately?
Remember to use my 10% discount code: RUNFUNDONE14 when you sign up for the Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri!