Ok, so I know that I freak out for no good reason.  But what’s important to know is that I don’t ever give up.  Last year, during my first open water swim, I got about 200 yards out and I freaked out and turned back.  I was feeling tired, and I couldn’t imagine swimming even another yard for fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it back.

I now know that my mind was playing tricks with me.  Making excuses to get me to back away from the things that scared me.  I.e., swimming in open water, no bottom of the pool.  Now going into open water, that is some scary stuff.  I am not the most confident swimmer, though I do feel really confident in the pool now.  I have no fear at all, even in the deep end.  Open water however is a whole different game.  You put your face in the water and it’s lights out.  You can’t tell if you are swimming straight, crooked, up or down.  There are no lines for references.  One other thing is that everything is at such a large scale that it seems like you are swimming really really slowly.  In the pool you can see the floor zoom by, you know you are cruising.  In the open water it is just empty blackness.  Every time you look up it seems like you are still so far away from where you are headed.

These are the things that bother me.  I am so afraid to drown.  I know that a big part of it goes back to when I was a boy.  I was my 6, my oldest son’s age.  I had no idea how to swim, and I was in a neighbor’s pool.  My head was just above water on the outside edge of the pool, and as I jumped around the outside I slipped and fell into the middle, which was much deeper.  I didn’t know what to do, so I slowly blacked out.  I woke up laying on the outside of the pool.  The parent that was in the pool with us saved me.  I can’t imagine how freaked out she must have been.  I don’t think my parents ever even knew what happened.  Oddly, I never learned how to swim until I was 35.  That was just last year.  Now I am trying to swim in open water and conquer that fear.

It’s no surprise that I am struggling with it.  But I’m not letting it win.  I will continue to attack the open water, and I will continue to get more comfortable with it.  I know how afraid I was in the pool, and I know that I got over it.  I will do the same in the open water, I just need to keep plugging away.

Don’t ever let fear stop you from trying something, it is always possible to overcome that which you fear the most.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy.  Before every race my heart rate races to 130 or more just standing there.  I am afraid, but I will not back down.