I first joined the swim team when I was ten years old. I wasn’t good — at all — but I loved it.
By the time I got to high school, I was fairly decent. I was All-State my sophomore, junior, and senior year.
I swam at Lehigh all four years. I was one of the better swimmers on the team at the time, but I was nowhere near the best.
I never held a team record or anything like that.
And today, twenty-five years later, I would barely make the team.
If I got in the pool with Number 3 and 4 who are ten and eleven years old, they would totally kick my ass.
Because one, they have much more talent than I do, and two, I haven’t spent much time in the water in the last twenty years.
Not swimming laps, anyway.
But I like competing in triathlons.
And that requires actually getting in the pool to train.
But I am so out of swimming shape that I have been dreading it.
Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to swim very much before I felt like I was going to die.
Relative to non-swimmers, I suppose I can do quite a lot of swimming.
But not in comparison to my in-shape swimming friends, and not in comparison to what I used to do back in the day.
So there was that.
And then there’s the fact that I’ve gained so much weight.
I knew my suit was going to be way too small.
Getting into it was going to be like squeezing 25 pounds of sausage into a 10 pound bag.
Women’s swim suits are expensive, and I just bought a new one that’s hardly been worn this past summer.
I’m not buying another one.
I had told myself all week that I was going to swim yesterday during the day.
But I didn’t get my act together in time to go to the pool before babysitting was closed.
So I was going to bag it.
But it bothered me all day long yesterday. The not going to the pool
My failure to get my shit together and swim was a big disappointment looming over my head all day.
So, after I finished coaching last night and drove Number 4 home from practice at 8:30, I went back to the pool.
I stuffed my 25 pounds of sausage into my 10 pound suit, and I did it.
I didn’t do much, but I did it!
I got the suit on. I got in the pool. And I swam.
And although I spent twelve years of my life swimming competitively, I was very much out of my comfort zone.
My arms felt like bricks.
My boobs spent most of the time busting out of the side of my suit and I had to stop every few laps and shove those suckers back where they belonged.
To make matters worse, three of the kids on the swim team were playing with friends in the open swim section of the pool.
I was sure they, along with everyone else, were noticing how slowly I was swimming, how sausage-like I looked, and how hard my boobs were trying to escape from my suit.
But you know what?
I don’t care.
Because I did it.
I got back in and I swam. And I didn’t get reprimanded for indecent exposure.
When I was in the locker room changing, another woman who had been swimming laps said to me, “You are a beautiful swimmer.”
Not a mention of how my suit was too small or how much side boob she had seen.
The only person who was focused on all that other stuff was me.
So I share this story with you as a reminder that the things that scare us, no matter how big or how small, are almost always much worse in our heads than they are in reality.
That not doing something because you are comparing yourself to how well someone else can do it or how well you did it twenty years — and another lifetime ago — is stupid.
And that moving out of your comfort zone pretty much always brings good things. Not bad ones.
In either case, whether the outcome is positive or negative, you learn something about yourself as a result.
So whatever that thing is that you aren’t doing because you’re afraid what other people will think or because you are sure you are going to die or because you don’t look the way you used to look, um….
Get over it!
And today I feel great because of it.