Sunday, June 21, 2015

thoughts about swimming and my dad

This morning I drove out to meet a couple of friends to try my hand at the 1 mile open water swim at Lake Holiday. The OWS that all my teammates completed a few weeks ago...

I had not had the opportunity to try swimming in a wetsuit, as until recently, I could not get the sleeve up my arm without tearing open the stitches in my elbow. So this was my first open water mile, and my first swim in a wetsuit. It was windy and the lake was a little choppy... so, lots of challenges.

I learned that although the wetsuit makes you more buoyant, it also changes the angle at which your head enters the water. And, it made it very difficult for me to swim freestyle. The sleeves are very constrictive.

When I had my fall, I not only opened my elbow... somehow I managed to displace my scapula, which has impacted the movement of my left arm.

Mid-way through the swim, I had to remove the wetsuit as it was unbearably uncomfortable. Although the stitches are out and the wound has healed, there are points around the elbow which are still very tender to the touch, and the constant squeeze of the wetsuit was hitting all of those points.

The rest of the swim was slow and steady. My friends finished the mile a good 20 minutes ahead of me... but I did it.

When I called my dad this evening, to wish him a happy Father's Day, he asked me how my training is going... and reminded me how far I've come since he came to visit in April.

Dad and I went to the pool together one evening while he was here. And he gave me several pointers that have really helped me out. Notably to slow down. He used to swim competitively when he was a teenager, long distance lake swimming, where slow and steady is the way to go...

A couple years ago my dad started having seizures, which wound up being a symptom of an enormous brain tumor. One that had evidently been growing for years. It caused his skull to bulge until it could bulge no further outward, and was now putting pressure inward, pressing on the main artery (which was causing the seizures).

Fortunately, the tumor was benign. Unfortunately, the trauma of the surgery resulted in impaired motor function on the left side of his body. So he has not been able to be active. But in the pool, swimming for the first time in a couple years, he was liberated... It wasn't smooth, it wasn't pretty, but he did it... And it made him feel good. You could see it written all over his face. It made him feel mobile. It made him feel in control of his body. It made him feel like himself.

And I was so inspired and motivate by that. By him.

Today, when I was swimming in the lake... it wasn't smooth. It wasn't pretty. But I did it. And although it wasn't liberating for me, it made me feel capable.

That is not to say that I'm not nervous or anxious... but I am capable.

One week from today, I WILL complete the Philadelphia TriRock Olympic Triathlon.

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