Camp Day 4
I did not sleep well and my inner demon was telling me to just stay in bed when the alarm went off. I mean, it was just a swim in the lake again. I was already there a few days ago. Who would miss me? What could coach possibly do if I just made some excuse and didn’t show up. Ugh. I didn’t come all this way and pay money to travel to bag out on the last day. That was the recap of what was probably a 10 minute back and forth with myself. I got up and got myself moving.
I got to the parking lot where we meet and carpool into the park and Amy, the girl I picked up in the rain the day before, asked if she could ride in with me. Of course I said yes and we headed in. I was dreading this day. I was not sure what coach had in store for me and panic was setting in before my toes even got wet. He had me off to the side as he split the others up and prescribed what he wanted them to do. Today is the day, I thought. I either can get this right or I am done with this crap. If he can’t fix this, then forget it. He told me to go where I could stand and swim from one marker to the other. I told him that was like 4 times the longest I had done properly. He said I could stop and stand when I needed to, but to go as far as I could. I surprised myself when I went half way before I could not properly catch my breath. I kept trying over and over. A couple times I was off course and very frustrated.
Coach called me out of the water for a chat. He asked me what was up. Trying my best to hold back tears I said that I was just so frustrated because I know I am not going to drown. I know there is no danger and I know that I should just keep the strokes going but my body gets to a certain point and just freaks out. He told me that I was way too hard on myself. He asked if I freaked out sooner or later than I used to. I said later, way later. “Then be happy with your progress and stop being so damn hard on yourself for what’s left.” Jerk. He told me to go to the deep water, facing the far buoy that everyone else swims to and to swim towards it for just five strokes and then stop and turn around and look at him. I went out and realized I was not sure if one arm was a stroke or both counted as a stroke so to be safe I counted both as a single stroke. Knowing it was just kept me relaxed. I turned around and he had me swim back to him. He said that it was like 10 or more strokes and I explained what my logic was and he just laughed. He said now I needed to head out into the deep until I couldn’t and freaked out. I did and the entire time I was trying to keep calm. I started to feel the build and told myself to just do three more, just do three more. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and felt like I could not breath and popped up. I realized that I was like half way to the far buoy! That was awesome and terrifying at the same time. I was super proud but a little freaked out about getting back. I struggled a little more on the way back than on the way out but made it. I did that again and got even farther. When I got back to shore, an athlete that could not swim due to injury told me that when I was heading out there he asked coach how I was doing. His response was “it kills me because she has great technique and is a really good swimmer!” I am having a hard time with thinking that I really have good technique, though I have been told that a few times. I still think he’s paying people to say these things and make him look good. Part of me wishes I would have pushed even harder, but maybe I am being hard on myself again. I really think I could have gotten there if I could wrap my brain around it. The fact that I am even saying I think I could have is a big improvement I guess.
On the way out, a seasoned ironman named Dennis told me that it was really nice meeting me at camp and he was glad that I came. I thanked him and said it was really nice meeting him as well. He went on to tell me that he didn’t think I realized how much my being there impacted people. Me? I asked. Yes! He said that the fear was all over my face, and he watched time after time as I kept trying to get over it. He said that he was inspired by my courage, and that he would never have had the courage when he was new to come to something like this. He said many of them felt that way. I thanked him again and held back tears as I thought about the fact that I could inspire someone that could do so many amazing things. A second camper, a badass named Erin, said something similar to me and that she was proud of me. It was very humbling, and a good reminder that everything is relative. Here I was in awe of what they were doing out there and meanwhile they were inspired by what I was doing. To have people that were strangers just days ago tell you how proud they are of you and how they believe in you feels amazing.