With my swim-programme propped on my flip-flops, float in hand I greeted my old head-master as he entered the local pool where we found ourselves both to be members. This extraordinary man, who is celebrating his first year of retirement by playing lots of golf and undertaking a Masters in Gaeilge has completed 19 New Year’s Day Swims in aid of our local Primary School. Actually, most of his life is an inspiration. Rearing remarkable children, eating a mostly fish diet, open sea swimming, an athlete, a scholar, a musician, and a nurturer of Traditional Irish Culture in our community. He’s 65 or thereabouts, and during our brief conversation he still managed to impart how he listens to me. Like anything is possible. It reminded me in that moment of uncertainty looking at my propped programme that anything that I say I want is possible.
“ Diaidh ar ndiaidh” he smiled before he swam up the centre lane.
I want to complete a triathlon. I cannot swim 25metres Front Crawl.
That day I followed my programme and for every length this seasoned swimmer completed, I did my half length drill with my float.
I recently met a woman who was so full of vitality, fun and excitement in every conversation. I wondered what her secret was. I see how some people are very practiced at having their actions match their thoughts and are really truly themselves. This is what I want.
I also want to complete a triathlon.
I don’t know how I’ll do it or what it will take but I trust that the path will show up.
During an evening of Conversational Irish I discovered this amazing mother of three to have done a triathlon about a decade previously and she also happened to teach swimming lessons in a local swimming pool. We agreed a time for me to take a ‘Stroke Analysis’ session. The starting point is based on my novice swimming ability of about 8-20 lengths Breast Stroke over 40 minutes, with my face never getting wet.
“Where are your goggles?” she asked when I arrived on deck for my 30 minute session.
I got it in one.
I was so far away from swimming a leg of a triathlon in that moment. So far from my thoughts were my actions, not even thinking as far ahead as putting my face in the water and seeing where I’m going.
30 minutes of splashing and spluttering my way through my incorrigible version of the Front Crawl, Back Crawl & Breast Stroke, mostly half lengths, the patient and direct instructor scribbled notes on her clipboard and devised a swim programme for me to follow. Through the pair of borrowed goggles I saw ‘nervous’ jotted on the diagnosis sheet.
She encouraged me to take the programme on and to give myself a break over Christmas. “Have a bit of fun with it” she enthused, as I noted her observation of my being significant.
Yee-haw, I have a swimming programme, specifically designed for me!
All I need to do now is Practice, Practice, Practice.
Definition of Extraordinary : beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established.
I am 38. I live with my family in the countryside, by a coastal town in the South-East of Ireland. I teach. I nurture. I sing. I jog. I read. I cook. I commute to work once a fortnight by bike( on a fair day). I want to participate in a triathlon.
I cannot swim 25metres front crawl. I’ve never swum in the sea with my head in the water.
This is my journey to my first triathlon and an acknowledgement of the inspiring people I meet along the way.
People who go beyond what’s usual, what’s ordinary, regular or established.
On this day our community had it’s 19th New Year’s Day Swim.