If you have been following along with me the last couple months, you might have noticed I have been focusing a bit on my open water swim. Over the years I have successfully progressed in the pool to a point where we want me to be. The transition from that to a successful swim in the open water has happened…..sometimes. The consistency for it definitely isn’t there, and going into two big ironman races for me this year, I want to feel confident going into the open water that my effort will reflect my abilities. And more importantly, that my swim will put me in a good position to capitalize on the rest of the race.
There could be a variety of ways to achieve this. Luckily for me, I knew I already had two of the best possible swim coaches on my side. Hillary, who has already revolutionized my swimming in the years we have been working together, and Coach E, or, Don Easterling. I am *very* fortunate to have stumbled upon his masters group here in town!
So, commence #alltheswimming. I am also swimming often with my good friend and training partner, Shirley. Shirley currently holds 13 long distance swimming records, and has had countless others through the years. Luckily for me, her record times in the 65-69 age group are my perfect training pace and my targets for racing! Because of Shirley, I have now also started doing weekly open water swims. Previously if I was going to swim open water in training, I lost steam pretty quickly. Knowing that I should be able to keep up with Shirley – since we are stroke for stroke in the pool – I am much more motivated for a 5k open water workout. While her and I both know I hate it, even if I don’t say it out loud, I always go back to what she told me one day at masters when I was complaining about swimming more butterfly and she wouldn’t let me put on my fins to take the easy way. I asked her how she can keep swimming fly even when we are so tired from 5k of swimming already. She said: “Well…..you just have to do it.”
It really is that simple. You don’t have to go looking for some “fix” or some hack. You don’t have to find a secret. You don’t need a change in perspective. You can keep hating it. But if you want to be the best, or even just better, you just have to do it.
This is pretty much how I feel every week when I do my open water swim with Shirley. It is the part of my week that I just have to get through, testing all my mental strategies to stay present and engaged. I really enjoy her company and the fact that she puts up with me clearly not too excited to be there is very admirable! It reminds me of some of the workouts I would do with Leslie in past seasons – neither of us loved it. They were the worst. But we just did it. Misery definitely loves company, and when your company is helping you get faster and chase those podiums, I really, really appreciate the company!
So, for now, it might be the worst. But I’ll be there next week!