Friday, April 25, 2008

A plunge into the sublime sea

I was reminiscing today about my first Peaman swim back in December. How scared I was. I could barely swim to the third buoy without a snorkel and we had to swim all the way out to the sixth buoy — and back.


It’s funny how the fear from my first couple of swim events still haunt me. At Lavaman I was convinced I couldn’t swim more than a hundred yards before I would have to stop for a breather.
So, during my warm up for Lavaman, I swam out about 200 yards nonstop and I felt so relaxed and at peace. Just a plunge into the sublime sea I told myself. My confidence began to soar. I knew I could make it the entire course without stopping. I had to let go of those past doubts.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote. “Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”

Everytime before I swim in the ocean, my first thought is, “I can’t do this. I can’t swim that far without stopping.” But, everytime I do swim that far. Everytime I swim to the sixth buoy, or the kitty (half-mile) buoy or even the Kings buoy (the 1.2 mile) I grow a little more confident. Advance in experience and maybe one day, overlook the old.

If you have self-doubt, or if past experiences creep up to remind you that you "can't do this" dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with a new power, my friends.

Thinking back on some of my first races, I was bemused at the silly, albeit at the time, rational thoughts I have while swimming. To the best of my reckoning here is a part of my thought process while swimming a Peaman race. Maybe there's a little insight into us "back of the packers, too."

PEAMAN COUNTDOWN: 3-2-1-go ...
MY THOUGHTS: wait, don’t get kicked ... OK, go! extend, pull, breathe. Extend, pull, recover. Extend, pull, breathe. Who is that next to me? Breathe, sight — cold spot! — lots of chop today. Breathe, extend, pull. Is that a shark? whew, just a fish. Breathe, draft, get closer. Too close. Breathe, sight. Who’s drafting on me? Extend, pull, relaxed recovery. Am I to the third buoy yet? Alright, the 4th buoy. Is THAT a shark? Breathe — cold spot! — extend arms, breathe, rotate. Pull, relax recovery arm, shark? Sight, who’s tickling my toes? Kick a little, breathe. What’s my left arm doing on recovery? My feet are dragging. Breathe, I’m getting tired now. You can’t swim! What am I doing out here? Yes, you can swim. no! yes! Breathe. Stretch out your stroke, glide, this is easy! I’m cruising now. Was that a jelly fish that just touched my arm? Breathe. Shark? oh, it's just a swimmer. Breathe, sight, stroke, breathe, sight. Swimmers coming. Breathe, move over, sight — ooh, look at that pretty fish — extend. No too tired. Pull, relax your recovery arm idiot. Breathe, sight. Swimmer going by. Breathe — the turn around buoy, yay — Should I stop and rest? No. Keep going. Don’t be a wuss. Ooh, that sun is bright, should have wore my tinted goggles. Breathe, sight, pull, cruise, draft, shark? Breathe. Pass this guy. Pull, extend, reach for it, you can do it. Breathe, sight, glide, tired, arms burn, shoulders burn, slow down, breathe — oh, another cool fish — Sight, draft, yes, drafting is good. Pull up behind that person. She’s going off course. Breathe. Forget drafting, just swim straight. Pull, recovery arm. What are your arms doing? Breathe, sight, almost there, this is the kick. Pass him, pull, extend, time to kick hard. Breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, sight, breathe, pull hard, passing, yes, nausea, oh-no-don’t-throw-up-slow-down-no-I’m-getting-sick-just-breathe-keep-going-breathe-50-more-yards-breathe-sight-breathe-pass-her-breathe-pull-sight-breathe-pull-pull-pull-finished. YES!

In memory:
A fellow triathlete died today. Dave Martin was swimming off Solana Beach near San Diego when he was attacked by a shark. Martin was swimming with his triathlon training group at the time. Pray for his family and friends.

1 comment:

Bruce Stewart said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. It seems to be a matter of building up (distance or speed) gradually. Less than two months ago I showed up for my first swim at that pool (after a layoff of a few months), swam about 1,000 meters, then felt dizzy and was sick in the locker room. We of course have our limitations, but the range of possibilities can be expanded with time and training. I am not sure we met in Kona, but you kinda look familiar. My training buddy and model of a triathlete is Harry, so if you get to see him when out training, say 'Hi!'.

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