This is an article by Faye Tudor.
Faye (34) lives on Scotland’s west coast and works as a researcher. She’s a keen sailor, enjoys running, and she’s signed up for her first sprint triathlon in 2014. When she signed up she couldn’t swim! Influenced by a friend’s passion for triathlon, Faye chose it as a personal challenge in order to help overcome her fears of the water.
Over to you, Faye…
I hear that I’m not the only person who feels nervous about the swim element of the triathlon. I probably worry about it a bit more than most though, given that I only got in the pool about five weeks ago. I’m a non-swimmer and I decided that I would like the challenge of a triathlon in 2014.
It’s not only that I don’t enjoy swimming, I’m also afraid of the water. I panic when out of my depth, I can’t float or tread water, and the idea of backstroke fills me with dread because I can’t bear to have the water so close to my face. I’m afraid of sinking and drowning and to me that seems a fairly legitimate fear!
A big part of the reason I chose a triathlon as a personal challenge is my fear of the water – I’ve decided it’s silly and I need to get over it. I feel like swimming should be something I can enjoy; it’s a great overall workout and an ideal exercise for those dark, cold winter nights when running or cycling isn’t really an option.
I want to swim so I booked lessons at my local pool and went along. It was a very strange experience – I had to ask friends and family what I should pack in my bag aside from the obvious costume and towel. I got plenty of helpful tips I’d have forgotten about – money for the lockers, a cap and goggles, flip flops for the changing room, a hair band to tie back my wet hair afterwards – all essentials that somehow didn’t occur to me!
When I arrived at the pool all the fear and memories of my childhood swimming experiences came rushing back. There I was, wearing my new swimming suit, standing by the edge of the pool, shivering, waiting to be told what to do. I’ve never felt so exposed in my life and I was very glad when the trainer came and led me into the kid’s pool.
There we sat in the pool and she encouraged me to put my face in the water and blow bubbles to familiarise myself with how it feels to breathe out in the water. We moved onto making the correct leg movements whilst holding onto the side of the pool, followed by floating on my back (the horror) with a noodle. The biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed that.
I then graduated to the ‘big’ pool where, on my second lesson, which fell on my birthday, the trainer encouraged me to leave the kick board behind and try to swim on my own. I snorted my derision at the suggestion but tried nonetheless and off I went! I did it! I swam! I was so surprised at what was happening I was laughing as I went. It was an incredible feeling and the best birthday present ever.
My approach now is to just try everything the trainer suggests without fear because…well, why not? I presented her with a challenge recently when she was asking about my triathlon – we agreed that if I can swim lengths on my own by February, then she’ll do the triathlon with me. That’s a deal.