Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to swim in the lake... by someone who did it!!!!!!!!!

Today was a big day for me. But I guess you know that.

This whole time, since I started training I have been stressed about it. I kept wondering what it would feel like.

How cold would it be? If I had a dollar for every person that asked me if I had a wetsuit I could have bought one!
Would I see anything scary at the bottom?
Would I get bit by a fish?
Would I have to touch a fish?
Would the weeds in the water touch me?

Yeah, what a silly girl.

I grew up swimming in the Pacific Ocean. My mom had us on the beach all year round. I have been in the water, at least ankle deep, most often neck deep all over the southern California coast. I LOVE the ocean. I have been caught in more rip tides than I can remember, body surfed, and boogie boarded til my stomach and arms were raw. And I have rarely turned down a chance to get in a pool. I LOVE the water. Almost everywhere.

Except lakes.

Lakes have freaked me out since I was a kid. My sister was floating tummy down in an inner tube when we were about 10 and 11 (I was older by 18mos.). She was in a bikini and she got bit by a fish. I still remember seeing her fly out of the tube screaming, belly button bleeding and hysterically pointing to the water. That sealed the deal for me. No swimming in the lake. Any lake. Ever.

As time went by I did get on boats and attempt water skiing (never did manage to get "up") and then tubing. I did swim a little at Honeysuckle Beach years ago with a friend and I have another friend with a dock off Honeysuckle bay and I did jump in maybe twice. When I take the boys to the beach sometimes I will go in up past my waist, but only because they want me to hold them so they can go deeper. But EVERY time I am in a lake I am FREAKED out. I see flashes of my screaming sister, I look for fish and when I see them I want to run and wish I hadn't looked. When John was baptized just a few weeks ago it took ALL I had to get in the water up to my knees. AND there were LITTLE TINY fish EVERYWHERE!!! I still get squeamish thinking about it...

So, THAT is why today was SUCH a BIG DEAL!!!

Not only did I walk into the water feeling its icy grasp go up my body, but then I followed my coach and my friend as they shallowly dove right in! I came out of the water short of breath gasping at the chill. My friend Stephanie warned me that breathing while swimming would be harder at first because of the cold and she was right.

As I started my freestyle strokes I could only do two strokes before I came up for air. And I was gasping. I kept swimming, out to the corner of the Point where Coach said to go. The murky gunk at the bottom had only a bit of my focus while I was trying to remember "bubble-bubble-breathe" which has become my swimming and now my "I'm wearing out I don't want to do this" mantra. They stayed beside me the whole time. Slow going for them even as I worked at picking up my pace. He has been swimming for over 50 years and she for 20.

Once I got to the Point, Coach asked if I was okay. I said I was, but I was still a little scared. He suggested we swim under the dock bridge over to the other beach area. He told me to keep going until I got there. No stopping. I looked at him and through my nervous thoughts I took a moment to remember that he was the same guy who had coached me through learning how to do this in the first place, and he would not leave my side. Neither did Stephanie. I said a quick prayer and felt the Lord give me the courage to trust Him, to trust them and to trust the knowledge I had gained in about a dozen swimming classes.

And I did it. I swam steadily until the darkness under the bridge caught my attention.


I was so focused on breathing and my stroke that I didn't see the bridge until I was under it. I popped my head up with a gasp, looked around and kept going seeing Coach and Stephanie waiting for me. I swam to them and realized:


I don't remember for sure but I think that was the first time I got all goofy and giddy about swimming in the lake. Coach then asked if I could see the post - to which I said no. I can't see that far ahead... so he pointed to a huge tree that I could see and said to go in that direction. Practicing my "sighting" so I am swimming toward the "buoy" in my race and not somewhere off course.

We started out and Coach swam across my legs (he has been having people in my class or even the Jr. lifeguards at one point get in my way, splash me and such to simulate what it will be like to have other swimmers right next to me for my swim). I adjusted my position. Then the waves from the wake of a boat started bobbing me around in the water and I adjusted my position. I remembered that Stephanie told me to breathe on the side opposite someone next to me or a wave coming. That helped. When we got to the post I looked up and got all goofy about having done it again! Coach had me swim around the post as if it was a buoy and gave me a few tips about how congested it will be during the swim. Arms, legs, bodies, faces all around me and I have to be able to get my bearings and keep going.

Then he had me practice "sighting" again. He crossed in front of me, splashed me with his feet and Stephanie did too. I swam back to the Point and he greeted me with loud praise about how straight I swam.

We climbed up the slippery steps and then back down again to do a shallow dive off the steps. Then we swam back to the beach and talked about the best way for me to practice the next few days before my race. As we got out the exhilaration continued. I wasn't that cold. The water didn't seem that cold. Everything was amazing. The sky was bluer, the water more beautiful, my success bigger... I know I was acting like a total dork but I couldn't help myself. I felt like I had just climbed Mt.Everest or something.

They were obviously happy for me too. It was a great moment in my life and these two wonderful people were right there in it with me.

When I talk about God's provision, or I hear other people talk about it, there is a quiet confidence and some positive outlook. But when you go from freaked out fear, to conquering it, to eagerly anticipating doing it again... now that is a whole new light on God's provision.

He provided for me this great Coach who has been an encouragement and a blessing every moment of my time with him. He provided a great friend, confident swimmer and wonderful encourager to swim with me in almost every class. God KNEW exactly what I would need and WHO I would need to face this challenge. And He did not hold back.

I felt SO loved, SO blessed and SO encouraged today. I knew so many of you were praying for me and cheering me on. It is pretty freaky being watched by so many people this way, but I opened myself up for it because God asked me to. I obeyed.

This whole thing continues to be about me obeying Him. One challenge, one day, one bike ride, one swim, one run at a time. So many of you have contacted me to share what you are doing in your life to become more healthy and to follow what God has asked you to do. It is humbling. I am grateful. And most of all I am overwhelmed by the work God is doing in so many of us who are just obeying, one challenge, one day, one bike ride, one swim, one run, one walk, one _?_ at a time.

And, because the excitement remains... YYYYAAAAYYYYY!!! I DID IT!!! :)


  1. Congrats.... exciting. Now new images in your mind when you think of going into the lake?

  2. Yes, I do have new images in my head. Today's swim proved that. I felt right at home out there. Still glad to not have seen any fish though!