Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"The only thing we have to fear...

...is fear itself."

Nice thought, Mr. Roosevelt. If only it were that easy! Most of us have other fears--rational (our kids' health) or irrational (monsters in the closet.)

The Engineer has never been the fearful sort. So when he did his first triathlon in May, he was shocked to discover that he feared open-water swimming. He got through the lake swimming portion of the race, but it was completely different than swimming in a pool. Murky water, a slight current, other swimmers bumping into him...it all made for a frightening experience.

A couple of months later he entered a more casual race at a smaller lake and, as soon as he started, he had the same experience--fast breathing and a pounding heart, bumping into other swimmers, and every stroke telling him, "This is too scary." He decided not to finish the race, and he came to me, disappointed in himself, saying, "Maybe open water swimming just isn't for me. Maybe I'll keep training, but won't do triathlons."

I disagreed. "I think you're just finding something athletic that's difficult for you, for the first time in your life," I told him. He nodded, and decided to keep trying.

The Engineer likes to do engineerish things, so he tackled the phobia in an organized manner. He did some searching and found a book online with detailed, specific instructions on how to swim in open water. He ordered it, and started watching online videos made by the author of the book. When we visited his parents recently, he visited a lake in their area four times, swimming in the cool, gentle waves.

And something amazing happened. His fear went away. When we came home, he found a couple of other opportunities to practice at a small lake, and yesterday was the real test--triathlon number two.

He did great. No longer is the cold, murky water a shock to his senses and his psyche. It doesn't bother him when he and other racers inevitably bump into each other. He started his triathlon training with nothing more than a summer of swimming lessons under his belt, and now he can easily swim 700 meters (.43 miles) in a race, and two or three times that distance on training days, with breaks.

Maybe FDR was right. It wasn't the open water swimming that was holding The Engineer back. It was the fear. I'm very proud of him for conquering it.


Christina Barkley said...

My first open water swim was heart pounding as well. And, what I have found over the years is that it very much helps to swim in calm open water by yourself, not in a race situation. The more he practices in open water (in that calm environment) the more he will actually learn to love it.
In fact, now I much prefer my open water swims to the pool. By far. Like yesterday, for example, I went down to Town Lake (just a bit further up from where the race was yesterday) and swam about a mile. It was so peaceful & awesome! I had to do something since I couldn't race :o(
Congrats to Jason on conquering his fears! Isn't that what life is all about?!
If he ever wants a buddy to open water swim with, just tell him I would be happy to go with him.

Anonymous said...

What a GREAT story! Congratulations to the Engineer!

Jessica said...

Congrats to your hubby for conquering his fear. I also have a fear of not just open water, but any water. This has stopped me from ever learning how to swim. [This is incredibly sad considering I currently live in Hawaii!]

Anyways... just a new visitor to your site. I already follow your one minute writer blog and participate occasionally. So I think I am going to follow this blog as well! :)

Hope you have a great day!

2cats said...

Congratulations to the Engineer. It is great to overcome fear.

I wish I could get over my fear of water. I get nervous in water that covers the tops of my feet. I can't get my face wet without feeling panic. Therefore, I only wash my hair in the sink and not in the shower. And I never take a bath only showers.

caryn said...

What a great accomplishment and a great lesson in never giving up that he can pass along to your little ones. Good for you for encouraging him to continue.

Lee said...

That's wonderful that he didn't take the easy way out and give up. What a great plan of attack as well. Congrats to him for being so determined and to you for being so supportive. It's inspiring.

LEstes65 said...

Woah! That really is so cool. I'm very impressed. But don't tell him that. Because then he might expect me to be all nice to him and stuff. (hee)

Our Scoop said...

Nice!! That is so great. I love this post. Good job Engineer man! Congratulations! Nice wife post CB.

Deanna said...

This is awesome. I love triathlon stories, and it's great to hear the Engineer is doing so well with the open water thing!