“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Yes, learn to accept fear as a part of courage. Choose something that scares the living daylights out of you! Understand that Fear will also be in attendance, but Courage is the speaker, the leader, the driving force to reach your victory.
When I decided to become a runner, it was out of fear. I was told as a child that I had weak lungs and a weak heart. I fainted easily and often. “You can’t do that Jen, you’ll get hurt. You’ll pass out. Your lungs can’t take it.” So I made the choice to overcome those labels and rose to the challenge of becoming a runner. Strong body, strong heart, right? My heart became strong and healthy. I was on my way!
Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear. So David, let’s take down another Goliath, shall we? Let me set the scene for you, which took place about 25 years ago or so…
There she is. The short, little Junior High girl, during coed swim class, who is still fighting her way through the shallow end. She is holding onto the side of the pool, blowing bubbles and breathing. She is practicing the kick board drill for the umpteenth time. There is she, trying to do the crawl stroke and failing the test over and over. She watches all throughout the swim unit, as each of her friends and classmates moves over into the deep end. Not her. Diving test, yes. Dance had given her great form for that. Dead man’s float, yes. She could do that all day! Swim the length of a pool. No. Failed. Failed again and again. Junior High, a time in your life when you so desperately want to fit in. What does this do to a young teenage girl’s self-esteem? Sends it plummeting to ground. (It was bad enough, she had braces, freckles, glasses and “perm gone wrong” for hair)
So David…about that Goliath? This now, 40 year old woman was ready to annihilate him!
And my next mountain to climb was just that. I was determined to become a swimmer. Obviously a crucial component if you register for a triathlon. Which I did. Back in December. Before I even took a swim class. Goliath was staring me down and I was coming for him!
However, swimming is truly a humbling sport. I thought it would be an intelligent idea to get into the pool a few times before my beginner swim class began. My first experience in the pool was anything but glamorous! I had my 14 year old daughter’s swim cap on (from when she was in 4th grade!) which was ridiculously too small and squeezing my head like a lemon. I’ve never worn goggles in my entire life. Being a contact wearer, I have been basically swimming in darkness with my eyes closed for 25 years. Completely embarrassed, I had to ask the lifeguard to help me learn how to use them! What a site! (I’m literally laughing as I type this!)
After all of that, I finally get in the pool. How hard could it be? Hard! Terribly hard! Humbly hard. The side stroke and back stroke were all I could muster to keep from sinking. After each lap, I was huffing and puffing with exhaustion, like I had just run a half marathon! Avid swimmers were practicing fluidly and effortlessly on either side of me. The harder I tried to swim “like a swimmer,” the worse I felt. Who was I kidding?? There was no way I was going to be able to do this!
But then I remembered, Goliath wasn’t taken out by a fierce storm, or annihilated with force and brute strength. David’s method was just a simple sling shot. A sling shot used on Goliath’s weakest spot. All I needed was my own sling shot.
My sling shot was rhythm. It is a simple strength. I developed it through my life as a dancer. I use it in my life as a runner. I use it in my life as a mom to alleviate my children’s challenges. I even use it in my life as a teacher to help my students master skills. Rhythm. Relate the sport to something you already know.
Being a swimmer, to me, is very similar to being a dancer. It is a whole body workout, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Your body must be in sync with each and every part. The timing, the rhythm, the cadence. Your breathing, your focus, your spotting. Your body can either work in harmony with gravity or fight it. Once you learn how to relax into the rhythm, your mind opens up and quits putting up that battle.
1,2,3…breath. 1,2,3…breath. My kicks are double time. Like a dance. The tempo can change, depending upon if you are drilling or doing a time trial. Slow and steady or fast and dynamic. Use your strengths to overcome your challenges!
Swimming has become a release for me, as well as an intense workout. It pushes me past my comfort zone, yet allows me peace as well. There is something soothing about the water and rhythm. My heart and lungs are growing stronger and stronger with every practice and every swim class. I swim a little faster now for a beginner, using bilateral breathing.
I still have a long way to go, and I am still building my power. Humbly. But I refuse to give up. I am in the fight. I am determined to rise, no matter how long it takes.
Through overcoming my fear of swimming, my wish is for my own children to experience this world in the same way. My hope is to show them that it is ok to be vulnerable and tackle their own fears. It is even ok to fail, and maybe even fail over and over before they
reach victory. To listen to their inner tugging and that they can achieve their own greatness.
I swim for my daughters and my son, so they know that in order to succeed in life, you have to “try life.” Take risks. Be courageous.
So find your sling shot. Take down your Goliath. It may take more than one shot, but stay strong and just keep swimming….