Friday, August 7, 2009

Little fish in a big sea

One of my favorite quotes is from Finding Nemo and it pretty much sums up the last few months for me: "When life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do?...Just keep swimming, swimming swimming"

Swimming has always been such a HUGE part of my life. In fact, there have been times where swimming has been my life (i.e. during the intense part of college season and the time period where I was trying to make Olympic Trials). Swimming is something I feel comfortable doing. No matter how bad the day, no matter what the obstacle in life, swimming always makes me feel better. It's like an old best friend that just makes you feel good (strange as it sounds).

Anyway, with the hip getting me down this season, I've once again turned to my old best friend and have been swimming, swimming, swimming.

My "racing season" consisted of two local open water swims. I'll give a brief recap of both:

CORONADO ROUGH WATER SWIM (1 mile) on July 4: This was a riot. The water was 56 degrees and no wetsuits allowed (I know, something is messed up in my head to do this). I tried to think of it as a great 18 minute ice bath for the hip. Anyway, I survived and had a few good laughs. I did pretty well overall (although the overall attendance wasn't that great).

TOUR OF BUOYS 5-Mile Swim on August 2: This became my "A" race. I was terrified for two reasons. 1) It had been a LONG time since I swam 5 miles without stopping...okay like 8 years. 2) My kayaker was Pat...not that I doubted his ability (he was a pilot and has some serious navigation skills), but he did ask me the night before what we were supposed to do if he got tired out there? Funny! Anyway, it was REALLY fun! I know, my definition of fun is crazy/creepy but seriously it was. I felt so relaxed and at peace out there (until my shoulders and legs started hating me). Pat was a great navigator (we made a great team out there) and he helped me get second overall female. Finished just under two hours which I was happy about (not that I have anything to compare it to).

The tri club swimmer girls all placing top two in our age groups.

So, while it's been a tough year with the hip stuff, it's also been a good one. I've regained my love for swimming (and in open water this time) and I've met some great new swimmer friends (Nikee, Rachel, Erin, Jake, Steve, Carrie and more).

I've also been thinking back on how far I've come with open water swimming over the past 10 years or so (I was a pool swimmer my entire life). I still remember the first time I swam in ocean. It was the first week of school at USD (pre-season) and our coach made us do our Saturday work-out in La Jolla Cove. It was a bad day for a first swim. Crazy waves and the water temp was just under 60 degrees (note: no wetsuit..btw, I didn't even know people swam in wetsuits for swimming until I joined the SD tri club). Anyway, I still remember that first "open water swim". My body hit the water and I started hyperventilating from the cold. All of a sudden seaweed was touching my leg and there were just way too many fish. My eyes filled up with tears and I stopped...and started sobbing like a nine-year-old. I'll never forget my coach standing up on the cliff and yelling down on me "NEW MEXICO (like he didn't know my name) "What the hell are you doing? Cut the theatrics and swim". Wow, welcome to San Diego! I did swim to the 1/4 mile buoy and sprinted back (I wasn't sure if garibaldis bite). I don't think I've ever been so happy to get out of the water. I called my mom from my car crying and said I wanted to go back to the mountains...ahhh, good ole memories...thank goodness she told me I couldn't come home :)

I enjoy thinking about how I've evolved since that day. Today, the ocean is where I go to relax, unwind, destress, hang out with friends, smile, swim five miles and challenge myself. I still love the pool but the ocean was really the place I went to swim when life got tough this year.

So, that's a wrap to my season. Now, I need to focus on my hip surgery and getting back at it in the triathlon scene again soon.

I remember my friends Beth and Bethany both telling me when I first got hurt that sometimes injuries bring you friendships and experiences that you would have never had without them. Back in April, I just shrugged at this. Today, this makes total sense.