It seems like the best place to start is with the constant question “The Why?”
There are a few ways to interpret this question
- Why swim?
- Why swim for so long?
- Why swim in open water?
- Why keep going further?
- Just why?
Lets try to answer some of these at least from my perspective
Why?- Well I am not very good at any other sport, while managing to be somewhat adequate as a swimmer. I started swimming at 4, had coaches until I was 19. Quit in my early 20’s, stayed out of the water for a decade, put on a lot of weight, realized, lost 50lbs and then a colleague said do “Big Shoulders 5km” swim with me in 2013. Then I thought well if I am going to do this, maybe some people will donate to a cause I care about and once I started raising money for “One Tail at a time” and had committed to it that year, it kind of took off for me.
Why swim for so long?- Firstly I am not very fast, I average about 2 miles an hour but after the first 5km, I realized I was not at a limit. The 5km beforehand seemed daunting but while I will never be at the front of the pack, I also realized I can swim further. Each year since, I have wanted to test myself to see if I can go further. So far, I have not reached my limit. So I guess I have to keep pushing….
Why swim in open water?- I understand the questions, what about the fish? what about the trash? what about the safety, etc. ?To this I ask the question, have you ever swam in the open water, free of the lanes, the lines, the paddlers, the people playing in the water on a warm day. Have you ever swam for an hour and all that is around is, you, the water, the sky, the beach in the distance and maybe a kayak-er (yacker from here on out). There is a freedom that I can not adequately describe, there is the realization of your place in the world, there is being at the “will of mother nature” and giving yourself up to it. There is the silence. There is also an incredible and supportive Open Water (OW) swim community. In this community I have rarely seen anything but support.
Why keep going further? -In the words of President Kennedy
“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? ”
I feel similarly about swimming, we don’t know our limits until we find them. I will never excel at swimming but I also know I can push my limits further and until I find that wall, I will continue to strive for more.
Just why?- All of the above, plus I have been lucky enough to find some like minded people, they will be mentioned frequently as this blog proceeds, there is Swimstory Sam, Tommy, Paul, Chris, Mark, Cindy, Sydne, Ashley and many more. They keep pushing further and we continue to find we push each other. We have also found a certain camaraderie, we post our daily swims to each other and generally in the months of March to June, we find a little competitive streak that leads us to be trying to out distance each other during pre-season work. We compare plans and try to identify our next swims.
Does this really answer the why? I don’t know, maybe there is one other phrase to use “because I can”.