Along the way toward completing the challenge of swimming 100 miles during 2016 at the SLO Swim Center, an interesting thing happened….
When we signed up in January 2016 for the 100 Mile Challenge at the SLO Swim Center, little did we know how much it would create ripples and seep into so many other areas of life.
The ideas I shared in the first article on this 100 Mile Challenge crystallized into a realization. At the beginning of this challenge, I wasn’t 100% sure I could do it. But with camaraderie and support and making the commitment to myself, I did it.
Just like with my training in Aikido for more than 30 years, committing to something and deciding to make it part of life leads to a lot of positive changes and outcomes. Building in a healthy activity that you enjoy means you look forward to doing it several times a week and you miss it when you can’t participate. Not only that, but you begin to find — and seek out — ways to continue to learn and improve for the joy of the experience.
Along the way toward the goal, swimming became something I really enjoy doing and can’t imagine not doing. I’m looking forward to logging a few more miles before the end of the year and then starting fresh for the 2017 100 Mile Challenge.
Accomplishing this was in no small part about overcoming fears AND committing to something worthwhile in spite of (or because of) the fear.
A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to be swimming decades from now, and if that was my goal, then I’d better get started.
But making that decision didn’t mean just going to the pool and swimming. While I’d swam as a teenager, I could no longer time breath with strokes. I could not make it one lap without choking or panicking, or both. To address this, I took an adult swim class and got the basics of breathing again. Swimming was still far from a comfortable activity, but at least I could swim a lap. My very real fear of drowning was still present, so I swam only in shallow lap pools. If I had to swim in a pool and cross the deep end, it was always with trepidation.
I remember the warm Saturday afternoon earlier this year when I swam with Andrew and his son Cyrus. By that time, I was logging regular weekly mileage and enjoying the experience of lap swimming – in the shallower end. Just knowing I could touch the bottom helped keep That Drowning Thing at bay.
But on that sunny spring day, my friends invited me to join them – in the deep end. Gulp. Would I let my fear win or would I face this next step of the journey? I jumped in and swam a lap. And then five, and then we were laughing and making it a game. Swimming in the deep end suddenly became fun and the drowning demon was vanquished.
And then there was the day later in the summer, again with my friends’ help, that I dove to the bottom of the deep end for the first time. Remember That Drowning Thing? Yeah. It awakened about 11 feet under the surface. But again, their light-hearted encouragement meant the demon skulked off again. Today, I prefer swimming in the deep end. Its blue, quiet vastness is centering and reinvigorating at the same time.
So for me, reaching this milestone has meant a three-pronged approach: making the commitment and staying on the path, overcoming fears, and appreciating the support and encouragement of my Great Flavors tribe Andrew and Cyrus. It’s amazing what a person can accomplish buoyed by the support of the community. Without them, I’d still be racking up the miles in the shallow end, and that’s not living the full-flavored life that I aim to experience.
We both feel a great sense of accomplishment at having logged 100 miles in less than a year. In January, it seemed a bit daunting. Not impossible, certainly, as Andrew’s earlier story described: swim two or three times a week, a mile or so at a time. Like any big goal, all it takes is commitment, long-term focus, and the dedication to keep it up. No heroics or valor, just steady and consistent progression.
We were thrilled to receive our official event t-shirts from Shawn Tucker, the Recreation Coordinator for Aquatics, and we interviewed him for the story about the SLO Swim Center .
Along the way to officially completing the 2016 100 Mile Challenge, an interesting thing happened. We both agree that the achievement and the goal — swimming a whopping 100 miles in a year!! — has turned into a milestone on a much longer (lifetime) journey of swimming for health and enjoyment.