Twenty-four days from now I'm scheduled to attempt a 2.4-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico. One year ago that thought would have filled me with abject terror.
Today I'm looking forward to it! It's still going to be a long, long, long swim for me, and I have a tremendous respect for the power of the ocean, but I'm fairly confident that I can get the job done.
For me, it wasn't taking lessons, or attending master's swim class, or any of those avenues that probably would have been a good idea to start out with. I haven't swum huge workouts or enormous distances. I've had a total of about four hours of swim instruction in my entire life.
Then what changed?
I swam over 80 miles this year, even though it wasn't a standard training program or anything terribly methodical. But I did try to make every lap count.
I swam in a dirty three-lane-wide pool at 5AM in the winter in Virginia with the aqua aerobics class going on in the next two lanes.
I swam in the brackish water of the Choptank River in Maryland.
I swam from a backyard dock into Long Haul Creek in Maryland.
I swam lap after lap in the clean, chlorinated waters of the Cool Pool at the Easton, Maryland YMCA.
I swam 1500m in freshwater Centennial Lake in Maryland.
I swam in the Choptank River some more, 1.2 miles in the roughest water that they had seen for Eagleman in twenty years.
I swam in the early mornings at the town pool in St. Michaels while the babysitter watched my girls.
I swam in Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland with Ellie.
I swam in the (overly) Warm Pool at the YMCA.
I swam in Lake James in Indiana.
I swam 1.2 miles in Lake Michigan for Steelhead at Benton Harbon, Michigan.
I swam in Harrison Lake in Ohio.
I swam in Delaware Bay with Ellie near Cape Henlopen on the Delaware coast.
I swam at the Miles River Yacht Club pool, and played with my girls in the baby pool.
I swam in the Atlantic Ocean without a wetsuit - and was so cold I turned around and got out again.
I swam laps in a 20-yard hotel pool near Denver, Colorado in the rain.
I swam in the Choptank River again amongst the sea nettles. Against a current. For 2.4 miles.
I swam today, another 2500 yards in the Cool Pool at the YMCA, and 1000 yards of it was at a pace that would yield me a sub-1:37 Ironman swim (though it's doubtful that I'll swim that hard that day).
To teach myself to swim. . . .
I swam and learned what the water had to teach me and swam some more. I learned by doing.
I'm looking forward to seeing what the Gulf of Mexico has to teach me.
Twenty-four days from now.