One of the reasons I started this blog was for me to have a way to share my experiences and potentially be able to help others along the way. I know I haven’t had a good track record of keeping up with my experience sharing but definitely know I have been able to help others in many different ways. From getting co-workers to do 5ks to ironman and anything in between. Those have been really great moments when I get “Thank yous” from people I have inspired to get active, I don’t see it as a big deal and do not go out to the world talking about it, I simply take them, and hope they pay it forward the same way.
One of the many stories that have touched me was the one from last weekend. One of the ladies from a Facebook group we belong to posted something about how frustrated she was with her fear for open water swims. Backing up a little, for those of you who might think it is just as easy as swimming in a pool, it isn’t. There is a lot that goes through your brain when you enter a body of water that isn’t a nice clean pool. It typically is the nemesis of every beginner triathlete, some overcome it and some can’t move on. In our case Felipe had a ton of issues early on with it. From panics and just in general which was strange because he had a swimming background. Me instead with no swimming back ground was totally fine with the lake. After multiple swims at the lake where I literally had to swim next to him reinforcing him that it was ok he finally let go of the fear and managed to leave me in the dust as he always does :).
Anyways, enough of a rewind, back to last weekend. Once we saw the post on the group we reached out to her, we’ve chatted with her before but hadn’t met her. She lives about 30 minutes away from us and trains a lot by her self which we figured was one of the issues. It is hard to get a good sense of safety in open water when you are alone, and yet you shouldn’t get in alone either. So we told her that we would swim with her at our local lake. Since we bring our kayaks we will always have one of us in the kayak for safety and we would make sure we are with her at all times. Me in the water, Felipe in the kayak. She accepted and told us she would come. During the week, she contacted me with the usual nerves and then Saturday she said that it was too much that she simply was going to quit triathlons, or at least open water swim ones. I listened, understood, and worked with her over the phone on some of her fears, which are the ones we all go through and sometimes let our fear take over. So after a few minutes on the phone she was back on track ready to come out on Sunday.
Sunday came, there were storms rolling by where she lives so she texted us again making sure we had good weather, which we did. So she got on her way. We got ready and she came promptly at 9. By 9:30 we were ready to take on the challenge. As planned Felipe manned the kayak and we both set off on our quest to conquer the lake. It was a good start. The lake was calm, and we had a good rhythm going. I was ahead but keeping a close eye on her and Felipe was right next to her. About mid way she stopped, held onto the kayak and we chatted to get across. Once we got across we stopped. Took a deep breath and went back to the start. Round trip is about 1/2 of a mile. She stopped a few times in between but she did great. We joked in the water, got her comfortable and she managed the fear.
All in all, the experience was good. She was happy she could do the swim which the previous week seemed impossible and a daunting task which in triathlon was not an option to skip. Unless you do the duathlon or a relay, but that wasn’t the option here. At the same time I was happy that I was able to give back.
It is true when they say that triathlon is a single person sport. At the end of the day if you put the work you get to the start and finish lines. However, it takes a village. In a way I feel blessed that I was able to do this with my partner in crime who I jokingly call coach, but also I feel lucky to have a real coach who took us with the entire team when we were so lost and didn’t even know where to start. Now they are more than teammates, they are family and as with anything triathlon is a big family. We all share a passion for the sport (and pain) and at the same time whatever the reason it is that got us going (or got you) never be afraid of asking for help. This case is a clear example of complete strangers sharing a passion, but we understood each other. We knew what she meant when she was telling us what she was going through. I’m definitely looking forward to continue helping her and sharing the little knowledge I have and more than anything being supportive. It boils down to that. Supporting each other and making the best out of it. It can’t be all competition… We do this for fun!