You know what? It is just so good for you to do something that you actually find hard.
I mean like really hard, out of your comfort zone, think you might cry hard (is it possible to cry with swimming goggles on, I don’t know?!)
I was definitely lured into a false sense of security on my first evening of sea swimming by the calm waters, pink sky, and breath-taking cold water and blown away by my absolute need for fresh air having been in the pool since December and off the running .I confidently tipped along the next week for more. In fact I couldn’t wait. 1km done. Sea temperature 10 degrees.
The next week was a wavy week, waves are cool, waves are fun, I like waves. You see them coming out the corner of your goggles, over your go, wooowah and on your merry way. Hey that was fun, I’ll be back. See ya next week. 1km done. Sea temperature 12 degrees.
Choppy. Emmmm….Standing at the slip way staring out at the choppy waves the next week my confident self says out loud “Ah yeah I’ll swim in that, no problem!”
Off I set, at first just keeping the head up to get used to the cold water, choppy waves splashing my face, god this isn’t easy. Full mouthful of salty water, gulp. Face down into the freezing sea and off we go. Within minutes I am completely breathless. I just can’t get a rhythm between turning my head and breathing and not swallowing a mouth full of water. Mild nervousness sets in, I keep stopping just to gather myself, catch my breath and go again. We are aiming for the digger that is working on the beach half a kilometre along the coast. It seems so far away. Stop start stop start breathe.
Eventually we get there and Dermot, my swimming buddy and who I have newly christened sea swimming coach says “Will we go a tiny bit further?” “OK” I gasp trying to show face and not appear in total panic. I actually did look in total panic…..I was told later on (eh Thanks Dermot!).
And then the turn around. Where is the damn slip way that I am meant to aim for?? Actually, you know what, I don’t think I can do this right now, completely out of breath (like all out speed training breathlessness) and quietly losing it inside I decide to bail out. It’s just too hard. I say to Dermot that I might swim to the rocks, climb up to the road and walk back, I’ll meet him back at the slip way. And then I think, for fuck sake Clare, you can run 80 miles over the mountains, get your shit together and bloody well SWIM!! Right Dermot, I’ll go another bit.
Stop start stop start breathe stop start breathe… survive.
And then we reach the slip way. “Oh wow that was so tough” I say, “I found that so hard” and well, you know me, it takes ALOT for me to admit I found something hard!! Lying on my back, my new post swim ritual, floating in the sea looking at the pink sky again, all the sounds of the world muffled out by sea, I am so chuffed with myself for sticking it out and getting it done. I realised that I loved the toughness of it, I loved the fact that I found it so hard, I am climbing my own mountains in the sea. 1.25 km (or so!) Sea temp 11 degrees.
And so last night, I set off with a little added confidence. I am ready for this, bring it on. In fairness the sea was just lovely, cold but lovely and off we set, quickly I found my rhythm and relaxed into the waves and the movement of the sea and I just swam. Swimming is quite solitary and it’s just me and my thoughts, every once and a while out the corner of my goggles I see a plane in the sky or the moon appearing or the sun setting and just keep moving forward. We get to the digger and decide to go on another couple of hundred meters, “Great, let’s go” and at the turn around I don’t worry about how far the slip way seems. Last night I felt I could have swam forever….
And I say to Dermot after “Oh god, I think the long distance swimming monster just got born tonight”. Oh no! 1.54km sea temp 10 degrees.
Go on and do something hard…it’s worth it!