I'm not fat enough.
I stared at B for a sec as if he'd called me the F-word then realized he meant he didn't have enough body fat to float.
Poor guy, that was his excuse for not swimming. Two years ago, I was explaining to a friend/co-worker that I'd signed up for Ironman Florida 2006 in order to motivate myself to learn to swim. Seriously, nothing less would have gotten me to do it and had that year not seen some of the roughest water conditions ever at an Ironman race, I might have checked that box and moved on to something else. Instead, one person died and I finished the 2.4 mile swim leg ~6 minutes too late.
You know the IM motto: Anything can happen.
Still, I accomplished 90% of what I set out to do in training and had the most memorable swim of (for) my life. And, I came back with more than a medal. The DNF gave me the desire to be a real triathlete. Up to then, I was content to survive swim segments and ride centuries just so I could run more marathons. Silly, I know!
But what B said got me thinking ... Many of the swimmers I saw at my pool did seem to have a lot of, let's say, built-in buoyancy. They made freestyle look so easy, gliding effortlessly down the lane while I splashed and struggled to go half as fast. How could it be that I could run for hours yet find swimming so difficult? What the heck am I missing? Maybe going on a bon-bon diet would help?
Then last year I began working with Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen. Karlyn was the first elite swimmer I'd ever met. What impressed me immediately, though, was her physique. She could have passed for an elite marathoner. And, she had small feet too, like me.
Hell, if she could float, most definitely, so could I. All body image issues I had went out the door.
Now I could work on the real issue: good technique or rather, lack thereof. No more envying or being intimidated by barrel chests, big butts and size 10+ double E wide feet. No more excuses. Just focus on what it takes to get my body through the water and this year, finally, I became a swimmer.
So now, after 3 years and 10 tris (6 half irons, 2 olys and 2 sprints), I feel poised to become the triathlete I've wanted to be. And to make things even sweeter, a wonderful blogging-for-coaching opportunity has come my way. Next year, I will tackle one of the most challenging iron races in the southeast, The Great Floridian. Then two weeks later, I'll head north to do Beach to Battleship, a cooler and much flatter course, just for grins.
I may not be bright but Thank God I'm Fat enough :-)