Photo by Molly Pennings. That’s me swimming! Check out how much my head is out of the water. Oh well!
On August 26, I did something that I thought I would never do: I swam 1.2 miles in Lake Superior (well, a harbor of Lake Superior) as part of a relay team for the Superior Man triathlon. And I could have kept going.I learned to swim two years ago at age 35. Before that, I just figured triathlons were out of my reach. I always told people, “I can’t swim.” I thought about perhaps participating in tris as part of a relay team, doing either the bike leg or the run leg. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would voluntarily do the swim (a 1.2-mile swim!) in a triathlon relay. But then I decided to take adult swimming lessons at the YMCA and give triathlons a whirl.
I had always enjoyed being in the water, but never learned how to properly coordinate an efficient stroke. When I started the adult lessons, I had trouble swimming across the length of the 25-yard pool. It took three months before I felt comfortable in the water.
The first tri season I did sprints (a quarter-mile swim), and this year I’ve done Olympic-distance tris (about a mile swim). The Superior Man swim was my longest swim to date.
Photo by Molly Pennings. I could see Duluth’s scenic Lift Bridge while swimming. Beautiful!
I want to say that swimming is like writing, and in many ways it is. You have to practice both regularly in order to improve. Over the winter I hit the pool twice a week without fail because I knew I wanted to complete longer swims. If I want to write an essay, I know that I have to “hit” the computer without fail (something that I tend to slack on at times, usually because I don’t always have a clear end goal).But in other ways, swimming is different. I feel different about finishing my recent 1.2-mile swim than I do about my writing accomplishments. I almost feel prouder of my swimming because for a long time, I thought swimming was something that I would never do. Whereas I have had an inclination toward writing my whole life. It was easy to decide that writing was a skill I wanted to pursue. I felt comfortable writing and wanted to spend time developing my craft.
It’s easy to work on things that you enjoy. It’s more challenging to try to learn something new. But when you succeed in that new thing, that thing you thought you would never grasp, the reward is even greater than when you succeed in something that you feel is a part of you.
Have you ever tried something completely new? Or is there something new you want to try?
Cara Olsen said:
Congratulations to you, what an accomplishment! Your spirit inspires me, and all those who find the will to be brave and try things new and challenging.
This last year my husband participated in a half-marathon and did incredibly well. He now trains for the full this upcoming year. This from a man with asthma!
Yes, I have. Four years ago I decided that after working the last 8 years, 50+ plus hours a week, I would do something for me. I decided that something would be to write a book. And I did. 😉 Who would have thought? Not me, certainly, but through a power and love limitless and virulent, I was able to take what might have only remained a gauzy dream and give it solid weight.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Thanks, Cara! It’s uplifting to know you made that big leap. I did something similar in 2005. For a few years I cobbled together freelance and teaching jobs in order to make more time to write. Then I ended up taking on job after job because I was so freaked out about money! Now I have a FT job, a side job, and precious little time to write. Not sure if I’m ready to take that big leap again, but it’s definitely on my radar!
Aw, thanks for posting! I’m also trying out new things in life now, so it’s encouraging to know that other people are going out and doing things, too. 🙂
Thanks for the comment! What types of new things are you trying?
Being from the same neck of the woods as you and having stood alongside Lake Superior facing that lift bridge, I have to ask: Did the water taste like gasoline from all the huge cargo boats that go by? Not to imply that you were chugging lake water or anything… 🙂
I didn’t taste any gasoline 🙂 But I was surprised at how muddy the water is yet from the June floods. If you just look at the water it looks fine, but it was so murky while I was swimming in it. When the swimmers jumped in from the boat it totally churned up all the muck.
Thanks for posting! My wife doesn’t know how to swim yet, but I’m betting your post will give her a little inspiration.
If I can do it, anyone can do it!
Impressive! I will think of something else “new” to try though.
I’ll let you know what I choose…..
ps. not a swimmer myself, but I made sure my kids learned…..Lucy is starting her 4th year swimming at the Field House at MSU…..
I’m so glad you’re kids are swimming! I really wish I had learned when I was young. I attempted swimming lessons, but didn’t pass the first class so I never went back!
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Tracy Lee Karner said:
You are SO cool! I’m reposting this!
I live with a man who has done so many things that people tend to think he’s making up stories. They ask me, “How could anyone do so many varied things in one lifetime?” or “Is there anything he can’t do?”
He has taught me that as long as I’m always willing to try new things, I’ll never grow old in spirit. So, I’m always trying something new–even with my physical limitations, there are still so many things I CAN do, that I’m never bored. New things I learned in the past few years: sketching; knitting, a little French.
Recently, I’ve been focusing most of my energy on my writing, finished the memoir and now am working on a novel, which is an entirely new kind of story & new character types for me. Much lighter, with more humor than my previous fiction.
It is so important to always try new things. My mom is my role model in this regard! She’s always willing to try something new and has “reinvented” herself many times. She and my dad owned the gravedigger/cemetery mowing business, but when she wasn’t helping out she was at home taking care of the food, the children, the cleaning, etc. Yet, even in our small, rural town, she took community ed classes on a variety of topics. Now she is into running and biking and Power Pump classes at her community center–pretty good for someone nearing 70!
Tracy Lee Karner said:
I need role models, in everything. Everything I achieve–in writing, in relationships, in physical health, in enjoying life–is because I saw someone else, and said to myself, “She did it–so can I.”
It’s a great thing, to have an inspiring mom!
Loretta Ratajczyk said:
I have said this often and will say it again…my two daughters are MY inspiration to try new things…aka…activities! I like a challenge that will make me stronger; with more endurance for biking and running. Since January my new challenge is “swinging” kettle bells once a week in a group class along with power pump and revving still in the mix.
I want to do a duathalon next year!
Thanks Rachael and Renee!
I’m sure you can do a duathlon, no problem!