Last week the triBE headed out to Lake Sybelia twice to master the open waters. What an adventure! Sara Dowdy and I headed out early Saturday morning to make sure all was ready, and she and I enjoyed a good half mile swim before the team arrived. By the time the rest of the team arrived 30 minutes later the wind had whipped up strong and the calm, clear waters had turned to choppy whitecaps. Without a doubt it was the worst conditions I have ever encountered in10 years of lake swimming. Certainly with the lake acting like the Atlantic Ocean, our newest swimmers were in for a serious challenge.
In the first 5 minutes of the swim, it was clear that courage was required above and beyond facing the usual fears, but the triBE was undaunted. Twelve women braved the choppy waters and fiercely conquered them. There was choking, there was panic, noodles were deployed… but most importantly, there was survival. Some even asked to swim more. Donna told me she wants to wrestle each challenge to the ground and beat the crap out of it. She swam a mile that morning. Marie told us the waves were so rough, she broke a nail. She wasn’t kidding. I was sure the waters were going to rip the goggles right off my face. As I swam the last woman in, they stood on the dock cheering. They had been talking and sharing their stories. The veterans were sure it was the worst ever. The newcomers were more worried than ever. But they agreed to come back in a few days and try again. I promised it would be calm the second time. And it was.
Round two was smooth sailing! Sixteen strong, the triBE leapt in the lake and showed serious swimming muscle. There were no whitecaps, but also no panic and definitely no noodles. Each woman owned her swim start to finish. The neighbors came out to watch in wonder as we spread out across the lake, brightly colored caps bobbing along like a string of buoys. When I climbed onto the dock Wednesday night I felt so proud to know these women. I had seen their courage, I had known their strength, and I had the true belief that every single one of them was prepared to succeed in this race.
So there were some good lessons from the swim.
1. Lakes are darker than pools and can be disorienting. Patience. You will adjust.
2. If you feel panicked, flip over on your back and catch your breath. Then begin again.
3. Weeds are weedy.
4. It is easy to get off course. Be sure to lift your head and spot your target regularly.
5. Repeated exposure to lake swimming (or anything else) will lessen your fears.
6. Never let a scary first experience deter you from trying again.
7. There is power in the group. Find training partners and train together often.
8. Wind makes for rough seas. (And hard rides.) You will overcome.
9. There are no gators in the lake.
10. If the worst thing that happens is a broken nail, you’ve have a really good day.
It's been told that swimming is a wimp sport, but I don't see it. We don't get timeouts, in the middle of a race we can't stop and catch our breath, we can't roll on our stomachs and lie there, and we can't ask for a substitution. ~Dusty Hicks
Train safely, stretch, eat well, hydrate, sleep.
Safe journey. Wind at your back.