The Stupid Swimming Race


At the pool, smiling peacefully as I begin the final training session before my race

Of all the things I have signed up for, and of all the things I am planning to sign up for – oh my goodness you guys are going to think I have gone absolutely batpoop insane when I blog about some of the things I am planning for the future – the stupid swimming race has got to be the absolute stupidest.

By a long, long way.

One kilometre more stupid, in fact.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  Well, actually I do – I was devastatingly unaware of the existence of the miraculous Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit when I signed up for the Mooloolaba 1km Ocean Swim.  I thought that entering a swimming race would be the only way for me to practice swimming in groups around buoys in the ocean.  Google had really let me down on that front.

Always blame Google.

I sat at my computer, a few hours after my first Open Water Swim session with soon-to-be-ex-Coach Kirstie.  It seems so long ago now.  It dawned on me that swimming in the ocean is my own personal equivalent of wrestling with bears – there is a high likelihood of death, nobody enjoys watching it much less doing it, the cruelty factor is high, it’s entirely pointless, and let’s not forget there is a high likelihood of death.

Yep, I know I mentioned it twice.

So what to do, when you have already signed up for a triathlon that involves a 1.5km swim in October but your new coach is moving to Tully and Google tells you that you have no other way to practice ocean water swimming?  Of course, you sign yourself up to do two thirds of the required triathlon swim distance 7 months beforehand.  Yes that’s right, sign yourself up to swim one whole kilometre, seven whole months before you actually need to do it.

Of course that’s the answer – if you have no actual brain cells left from your bear fight.

Now, I know I can swim a kilometre in a pool.  I have done it on numerous occasions and in a pool it takes less than 30 minutes and apparently (even though it sometimes felt likely) I haven’t died from it yet.  So I have that in my favour.

But that is where the favour ends.  Ocean swimming is a whole different kettle of fish.  Primarily because, the kettle has effing fish in it.  And seaweed.  And jellyfish.  Probably sharks.

Secondly, and probably the most alarming thing about this Ocean race for me, is that there will be no biking and running afterwards.  All the buggers I will be swimming with will be people who enjoy ocean swimming – as in for fun.  Now, I do have a job that involves being around strange characters most of the day (I work from home and so does Shane) but being around that level of insanity scares the crap out of me.

Even worse, I know when the gun goes off that I will be the slowest swimmer there, and within approximately 3 metres I’ll be left to swim a further 997 metres, all by myself.  In the middle of the effing ocean.

snail on cap

I have a snail on my swimcap, a bit like a learner driver has an L on their car

To say that I have been dreading it would be an understatement.  I think a pervading atmosphere of dread has been a theme in a few of the last posts on this blog actually.  It seems that sh*t possibly got real after my baby Bribie Island Triathlon.

Straddie and Noosa are demanding more dread.

Yes, I thought about pulling out.  Yes, I felt there were valid reasons to do so.  Yes, I agree that there is nothing to prove with this race and no need to be swimming 1km in unfamiliar ocean water right now.  Yes, there are lots more Grimsey sessions I can attend prior to my next tris, to get me up to speed.

made up my mind

I took this photo on Thursday, by which time I’d made up my mind

But I didn’t pull out.  I don’t think of myself as a brave person, but this was a pretty brave step for me.  I guess you don’t know what you’re going to do when you have a choice between doing something scary or not, until you’re in the position.  So I kind of surprised myself that I didn’t pull out.  I thought that the closer I got the more likely it was that I’d emerge as the chicken I truly am… But actually something happened, as I was thinking about the race a few days ago.

Some words popped into my head from absolutely nowhere.

I would back you on this, Lauren.  And if I had to bet, I would bet on you to do this.

Now, I really don’t know anyone who is a gambler, except my elderly Uncle who I haven’t seen in years.  I’m not in close contact with anyone who bets or gambles, and those words aren’t part of a conversation I’m likely to have in the next 12 months at least.  But nevertheless, they popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.

I mulled on it.  If someone was running a book, and they told me I had to bet, would I back myself?

I’m not a superstitious person really and if you caught me at a less emotional moment I’d probably be the first to suggest that I must have passed by a television set with someone talking about gambling odds or some such thing, which entered my subconscious and then my thoughts when I started pondering the odds of finishing the race.

But I am feeling emotional.  So I’ll tell you what I think right now.

I think somehow, the universe aligned for me to hear those exact words when I needed to hear them – when I needed to change my perspective entirely.

Because this whole triathlon thing is a big freaking gamble.  Remember there are no guarantees?  Yeah, well remember there should be no regrets either.  Yes there are big odds, high odds, bad odds (whatever you want to call them) that stuff will go wrong – all the time.  Am I doing any of this because I am guaranteed success?  No.  Will I face a DNF sometime?  Yep.  But what’s worse than a DNF? A DNS.

I had forgotten these things.

So with those strange words echoing in my head, I realised that this race is just another roll of the dice – maybe a bigger one, maybe one with worse odds because up until now the dice seem to have landed on the numbers I needed… but losing is acceptable, and probably inevitable…. and won’t kill me.

Gambling is the game.  If I’m not rolling the dice, I’m not playing.  I want to play.  So my bag is packed and I am about to head to Mooloolaba (the race is at 10am Queensland time)

I honestly don’t know how it is going to go.  Other than – badly, probably.  But I am ready for that.  I’ve backed myself both ways, just to be sure.

I tried to ban my family and friends from spectating this one – partly because it will be painfully boring to try and spot me from the beach for between half an hour and 45 minutes (I really don’t know how long this will take) but also because I wished to save them the embarrassment of cheering the last finisher across the line (or cheering the first rescued person in off the lifeboat)

However, even telling my mum the wrong locations and the wrong start times didn’t put her off.  I think I could have told her that the race was on the moon at midnight, and she would have replied ‘no problem, darling, I’ll be there’.

So unfortunately she will have to witness the events.  But I am secretly glad because I really didn’t want my towel and stuff to get stolen off the beach while I was swimming with the sharks, so mum can hold my bag and I will be able to swim without worrying about that.  You know, one less thing.

Plus, I will have someone to high-five and hug if I do in fact make it all the way through the one thousand metres of torture.  And I know she wont mind if I am last (or first off the lifeboat) because she is a good mum.

And on that note, I’m off.  I will report back when I have recovered.

Go roll some dice.

6 thoughts on “The Stupid Swimming Race

  1. You are one remarkable young lady who fills me with love, pride and admiration for your courage and determination. Not only that, you are my wonderful carer and inspiration.
    Good luck today and I will be thinking of you at 10am.xxxxx

  2. Pingback: The DNF, or Mooloolaba Ocean Swim Race Report | She Can Try

  3. Pingback: Straddie Nerves Kicking In | She Can Try

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