Thursday, 12 November 2009

Swimming and Smiling...

"Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful." -Thich Nhat Hanh

I've always loved being in or near the water. This is likely for two reasons. One, I was born on an island and spent a lot of time near the ocean. Two, I'm a pisces. Oh boy am I a pisces sometimes....but that's a story for another time.

When I first took up swimming for triathlon I questioned whether I had ever been in the water before. There was a lot of thrashing and gasping and very little forward movement. Flashforward four years later and I think I can say I'm a swimmer and I know I can say I love it!

I've slowly been getting better at swimming, but the new program I started in July has really given me a boost. It has invovled a TON of paddle work. At first I was afraid of the mean green paddles. Afraid I'd hurt my shoulders or not be able to use them. Turns out my body loves anything that takes strength. Hmm, not that mumbly mumbly years of being a gym rat prior to being a tri geek didn't tell me that!

I didn't have much time before Ironman Canada to really get into the groove of swimming with the new lesson plan, but I really think it helped me as I took 2 whole minutes off my swim. Very cool.

I've been hitting the pool religiously since September and today was proof of all the hard work. At least I think so. I'm not sure what Cozumel will be like, but I'm not troubled by that because the only thing that matters is today.

Before I divulge the big YAHOO from today, I must say that there has been much joy and happiness brought my way in the pool since September. The biggest joy was from the people.

During the summer I started going to the pool on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Tuesday and Thursday I'd get there at 6am. Needless to say, there weren't many people there. In September though, the schedule changed so the munchkin swim club could get their practice in. (A big HOOYAH to the kids that get up in the wee hours of the morning to train - you rock!)

So I started going at 7:30 am, which was the new lane swim time. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made that I didn't really make. Why? Because of the people I was now surrounded by.

First off there are my two fellow mermaids. For some reason, I have no idea what there names are! Too funny. I will find out soon! Anyways, they are almost always there with their kickboards, chatting away while doing their laps. I love them because they are so cheerful and always have a warm smile and 'good morning!' for me. When they learned what I was doing they were also very encouraging. So sweet! They always make me smile and keep me going when I'm tired.

Then there is Garney - one of my fellow tri-geeks. I swear, he's my 'peace brother by another mother'! Again, another person always ready with a smile and a witty comment here or there. Not to mention it doesn't matter what kind of day, or morning, you are having - he always knows the right thing to say to make you feel good. Then there are our mini philosophical chats. I love the fact that we can pack in a deep conversation into a short rest at the pool edge between sets. In those mini moments have really given me some 'AHA' moments! He is a blessing.

Another member of the tri-geek gang is Jaimie. I gotta tell ya, swimming with Jaimie is like getting to swim with a pro. He has been to the World Championships, both Kona and Clearwater and number of times. In fact, last year he raced in BOTH Kona and Clearwater. Basically back to back. One word - WICKEDAWSOMEATHLETE! Oh, and the best part? He's super modest. His whole family is like that - it's really wonderful.

He's been in the pool a fair amount as he was getting ready for Clearwater, which he's racing in this weekend. As the lane rope has been busted the last while, it's been Garney, Jaimie and I sharing what is essentially two lanes. Jaimie gets there later than we do, so he ends up in the middle. We each take our spot and stay there.

Last Thursday he was there swimming a steady pace. I was busy doing sets of 300. Every once in a while if we both pushed off from the wall at the same time I would try to keep pace with him. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. I swear his 'warm up' pace is my 'all out' pace. This time though I tried to mimic his techinque and ended up being able to hold pace with him. It was the coolest feeling!

Well, I'd hold pace for a length, then he'd lose me on the flip turn. I kept doing this throughout my 300s and it really helped me to keep focussed, as well as work pretty hard! At one point I actually kept up for 3 lengths! I was feeling like a champ at that point.

With two sets of 300 left, both Jaimie and I ended up at the pool edge after finishing a set. He was about to get out and I said 'NO! You can't leave me! I've been trying to keep up to you during my sets and now what am I going to do to keep me amused?!' He started laughing and asked how much more I had to do. I told him then mentioned I was just teasing and he was 'allowed' to go.

I then pushed off the wall and started my set. I soon noticed that Jaimie was swimming with me. Actually, he swam just a bit ahead of me. I again started to mimic his techinque and to focus on staying strong. We got to the end, he flip turned, but he didn't push off super hard so that he was still just in front of me. He was going to swim the set with me!! So I did what I did for the last lap, and continued to do so for the entire 300 m.

The one thing about swimming beside Jaimie is he can create a bit of a tsunami. In trying to keep pace I managed to swallow four huge mouthfuls of polluted pool water. Needless to say it made for a rather unhappy gurgly belly for the rest of the day. It was totally worth it though!

Who knew one could swim and have a huge smile on their face at the same time?! I sure did that day. It was so kind of Jaimie to swim that set with me. I gained so much from that set and that day. It was not an easy set, but I didn't die doing it, which was a wonderful surprise!

I was so thankful to him for giving me that gift. He is such an amazing athlete and to be able to have that experience truly was one of the highlights of my triathlon career. It was like getting to swim with a pro! Only better because he's a friend too.

So all this wonderful learning and energy was channeled for today's challenge. I was to swim 4800 m. Wow. I've never swum more than 4000 m before. I totally got myself in the headspace before I went to the pool though. I was pumped. So much so that I was actually shaking before I got into the pool!

Thankfully, Garney and the mermaids were there. They shared their enthusiasm and energy with me and I had a fantastic swim. That energy stayed even after they finished their workouts and I went on to swim the entire 4800 m feeling strong. In fact, I felt so strong that after I'd finished the 4800 m, I decided that another 8 lengths wouldn't be much more to add on....

So my final total distance for my swim today was 5000 m! I was on cloud 9 walking out of the pool. I've never done that before and I felt fantastic doing it.

Thank you to all my tri friends and pool buddies who constantly inspire me, give me energy and always make me smile. I am so grateful to have you in my life!

Peace out my glorious friends!


  1. What a great feeling, you rocked that swim! Now tell me, did you feel like a noodle that could eat a five course dinner and then go to sleep when you were done? Those 5K swims kick me arse. Way to go! Woohoo!

  2. Good times, Susi! You little fish you! :) :)

  3. 5000m!!!!! woooowoooooo. (bowing, waving hands, scattering rose petals.)

    I remember you going to the pool at lunch time with Jeff to learn how to swim. And saying how hard it was, and hoping you'd get the hang of it. You've come a long way baby!

    Do you really think that Jaimie, or any other guy, could refuse your imploring look? Of course he got in to pace you. I would, though I'm not sure I can keep up with you anymore.

  4. WOW!!!! Great swim!!!! Way to find your strength (which is strength haha!) and use it! So awesome :)

  5. Susi, that is fantastic that you are really enjoying swimming so much. I hope I can get to that point in the future!

    And wow...5000m!!! Awesome!! You are so ready for Coz my friend!

  6. You are a rockstar! Loved learning about all your pool buddies. And the part about the peace brotha from anotha motha cracked me up!