A new season that almost didn’t happen

My new swim season started last Sunday, October 15th with the Ducks. It’s my third season swimming with the team. I have to be honest; I was not sure if I would be back swimming with them this season.

On that Sunday morning, I woke up, had a coffee, and watched the clock tick away. My immediate thoughts were… should I get up and drive to Aurora and go to practice? It’s not because they aren’t a great club with a great environment to swim with – but because of my future decision on whether I wanted to swim, and at what level of commitment I wanted to make to the team. With what usually takes over 30 minutes for me to drive to Aurora, lock my belongings in the change room, and dash on to the deck.. I barely squeaked onto the deck as Adam welcomed us this season.

I’m still not sure about if I will swim in any meets, or if I will do any open water swims this season. That’s why when Nancy Black said that on her past teams that she coached, that her teams were known for being extremely fit, definitely struck a chord in with me. At the very least if I decided swim meets aren’t for me this season, I would at least me in fantastic shape! Adam also mentioned the new approach the team would take, which is one that is competitive, but also social in nature. Finally I thought.. we are going to have fun this season!!

The point of this blog post is that I almost procrastinated myself out of a swim season that has some great promise. Sometimes it takes a bit of a kick in the pants to get out there and head out to practice. There will be days were you may not feel like going for a swim. But do it. You’ll be better for doing so!

Masters Swimming is making the most of whatever kind of goals you set for yourself – fitness, competitive, or even if you don’t really know like in my case.. it doesn’t really matter. Just get out there and swim.


Just my two cents on the state of Masters Swimming in Ontario

In all the years I have been associated with Masters Swimming, I have never seen the uncertainty in terms of its future direction than I have for this upcoming season. Frankly, it’s disappointing on how a community can become so fractured. I had my own issues that I wanted to get addressed, but never received a response as there was a much bigger issue at play.

I’ve also read the commentary on Facebook posts blaming the MSO and SO for the split up, and the pissing match that continues to play out. Frankly, I’m tired of the mudslinging back and forth, the boycotting, the unattached swimmers not being allowed to swim, and so forth.

The politics for something I consider just a hobby, or a positive way to pass the time and stay in shape by swimming is getting to be a bit much. If I may speak for masters’ swimmers, most of them just want to swim. To swim in some meets, to swim with their clubs, and to be social.

What is happening here is going to make swimmers turn to other sports, and other disciplines (like Triathlons, and open water swimming as examples).

The masters split will also hurt clubs who will now shy away from organizing swim meets, and I cannot say for one second that I blame them.


Reflections on Lake Erie Swim Attempt           

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile since I have posted. Probably too long. Work and life gets in the way, but as a new season starts, I feel compelled to share my experiences in regards to a swim across Lake Erie this past August. The Lake Erie swim, I must admit, was an emotional journey for me, filled with some incredible highs and also lows.

How it all started

The Lake Erie swim started off with some small talk between Terri Corso and myself over the years. I had said that Lake Erie was in my sights and would like to swim it at some point. On occasion, my successful Lake Ontario swim would be brought up and stirred up memories of my younger years swimming in marathon swims.

The opportunity of a lifetime.. or should I say, lifeline?

The swimming across Lake Erie idea seemed to gain a bit of traction when an opportunity came up with the chance of being part of a Global Swim Series swim that would enable me to swim Lake Erie with the support of a swim that monitored things like safety, organizing the swim aspects, etc. Officially called a race, the “Embrace the Challenge” Lake Erie swim was, at the time, my ticket to swim across another great Lake.

The Quest

I heard about the “race” through Anita Doppenberg, whom I got to know through Facebook’s swimming groups. Just a few months before, I wrote a blog post about her about her successful Lake Erie swim, as a solo swim and through conversation, she advised me of the upcoming Embrace the Challenge swim. After a couple of months of convincing my wife of this event and opportunity, she finally agreed. Convincing her was not easy.

In April, I decided to increase my already crazy swimming schedule and adding in more distance swimming. At the time, believe it or not, I was not any swimming shape to swim any long distances. I forced myself to keep swimming freestyle when all I wanted to do is to get out of the pool.

May came around really quickly. In order to get used to what I thought would be cold water, I swam in a Lake in cottage country up in the Bruce Peninsula. There was no one else in the water, and the water was really freaking cold! But I managed to swim for an hour when I was up there on weekends. Before too long, I found myself being able to swim for longer periods of time without wanting to get out of the water. The cold water training worked very well for me.

My idea..and my reluctance

Here’s what my idea was at the time.. I wanted to raise money for a charity so that I could do some good. That charity ended up being the one that belonged to my employer. A director at my employer found my story posted on linked in, and loved the story so much, he went on to talk to the company president. Soon enough, we had a meeting with the president, as well as the employer’s fund raising team, and came up with a plan to hold a rally in my honour.

But soon after I agreed to participate in the rally, I increasingly felt really uncomfortable with being in the spot light. Although my efforts were quite noble, I didn’t want to be seen as a swimmer, but rather a competent professional in my field of work. Perhaps this was my fault, but I gradually shot down their ideas in terms of publicity because I felt it was not the route I wanted to take. In the end, my efforts raised over $5,000 and I’m really proud of the fact I was able to do some good. Feel good about improving the lives of others!!

My coach and mentor

I have nothing but kind words for my coach, Marianna Koljubakin. She had nothing to gain my helping me out, and spent time with me and answered my questions and concerns. I may be a veteran marathon swimmer, but I don’t know everything there is to know. Marianna helped me out with nutrition, training, and chats about approaches to training sessions.  I am grateful for her help!

Words of Encouragement.. and making me stick to the rules

One of the people along my journey was Josh Reid, who I think is truly amazing and glad we crossed paths. Josh and I had conversations throughout the months leading up to the Lake Erie swim. I must have drive him crazy with all my messages to him. Yet, he never complained. When I didn’t qualify at the North Shore Challenge swim, he helped me find an alternative swim were I could swim and qualify.

The North Shore Challenge

In July, I decided to swim in Josh’s event, the North Shore challenge. As per the paragraph above, I didn’t qualify. The waves were very high, and frankly, even though I was able to finish the 10 km swim, I did not get into any swimming groove that allowed me to swim fast. The qualifying time to swim 10 kms was 4 hours. I ended up swimming the North Shore Challenge in just over 6 hours. Disappointing!!

Spoke to Josh about not qualifying, but he said rules are rules, and if I wanted to swim, I had to qualify. So I scrambled and found an event to swim at that would allow me a fighting chance to swim and make the cut off time.

The Caledon Quarry Swim

The Caledon Quarry swim was quite successful. Ended up being so pissed off about not qualifying at the North Shore, that I swam as fast as I could, and finished the 10 km swim in 3 hours and 3 minutes. I was relieved that my efforts finally paid off. Two 10km swims was exhausting for me, but I finally qualified and felt good about it.

I have to also thank Barrie Shepley for accommodating my last minute addition to your race schedule to allow me swimming. Also a huge thank you to Chris Yuen and Anita Doppenberg, who came to race against me, and also support my efforts. Thank you so much!

Lake Erie “ Race” Weekend – Friday

Finally, the race was in sights. I took some time off work to gear up for the event, but also to rest. On August 18th, my family went down to Fort Erie and check into our hotel. Marianna and her husband joined us for dinner that night. It was a very enjoyable evening. Earlier in the day, we were advised that the swim, originally scheduled for Saturday, was moved to Sunday due to the high winds on Lake Erie.

Lake Erie “ Race” Weekend – Saturday

Saturday came and went quickly. It was a day where we just stayed and wondered along the beach, and checked out some local sites.

Lake Erie “Race” Weekend – Sunday’s Main Event

Woke up early Sunday morning, and went with Marianna and Jorge to the start of the swim where we went across on our boats to from Crystal Beach to Sturgeon Point, New York to start the “race”.  The race was delayed by about an hour as the boats struggled to get across the Lake Erie waves. We had a 22 foot Pontoon that was literally taking a pounding as we slowly boated across the lake.

Finally, at 9:04 am, the event started. I had an in water start and the other swimmers started on shore. The start seemed smooth enough, although I wondered where the other swimmers where. Was I in last place already? A thought that came to mind quickly. But soon enough, I had more positive thoughts about being really comfortable (and not cold!!) as I swam across the Lake.

I do recall the 8 feet waves that seemed to be coming from behind me and moving me forward. The boat, which I tried to keep within my sights at all times, looked like it was tossed around like a toy in a bath tub.

The swim was going very well for me. I swam 10kms in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and handled the waves well. I had no fear.

Then, the most unfortunate thing occurred – Marianna stopped me while I was swimming, and told me that I had to get out due to a swimmer being lost in the lake.  Couldn’t believe my misfortune. As I got into the boat, I wondered what could have caused this and also if the swimmer was okay. We were asked to use our boat to search for the swimmer while a search and rescue boat came and searched for the swimmer. We received some mixed messages from the people on the radio… with one message stating that the swimmer was taken “unconscious” from the water, with another message quickly correcting the message with “conscious”. At that point, all the boats were asked to get into the port where the swim officially ended. I was so disappointed that I decided to skip the dinner with the other swimmers and went home. Marianna and Jorge also went home.

I should clarify, that I am happy that everyone was safe from the event, even though we did not get to finish the swim. Things happen out there in the lake, and we all have lessons learned that we must all live with. I’m not going to get into other details or lay the blame on anyone, because I think the incident was a mistake, and not done on purpose.

What’s Next for me?

I’m used to disappointments – it took me three tries to swim across Lake Ontario. And on the third attempt, the swim took me over 32 hours. I’m not a quitter. Not sure if I will swim the “race” if offered or if I will entertain a solo swim with Solo Swims of Ontario. There are many months to think about options, or if I want to swim it at all.

Lessons Learned

Despite the swim being unsuccessful, I do believe that I learn more when I fail at something, rather than when I am successful. I learned a great deal about training, fund raising, the media, and what my own strength and weaknesses are. I also learned that I have a very supporting family who supported my crazy idea to begin with. My wife Linda has had to do a lot more during the last few months of my training. She has been my rock.

In the end

In the end, I hope that I have been able to set a positive example to others. I also hope that I have been able to show my daughter, Amelia to reach for goals no matter how wild and crazy or far-fetched they are. Failing is part of the learning process.


Provincials

Just a quick blog post today to congratulate all the Duck swimmers who swam at the Provincials late last month! I hope you all were able to get some really quick times and were happy with your results. Sorry I missed you all. Things have been crazy work wise, and I also have not attended some practices (sorry Adam), but hope to make them all up soon.


Recap of Thornhill Invitational Meet

The Thornhill Invitational Swim Meet was held at the Pan Am Centre in Markham. I have to commend the THOR group for running a spectacular swim meet! That coupled with an awesome facility, made the event a must attend.

My day however didn’t start off so great. I woke up at 5:30am wondering why in the world I signed up for the meet. I wasn’t in the right mindset to swim at all on Sunday, let alone try to swim some fast times.  If it had of been any other day, I would have taken a rare day off of swimming, as I really needed a mental day off of swimming.

But I decided to go to the pool, even though I was not mentally ready to swim. I got all my belongings together, and drove down the highway listening to some tunes and noticing there was very little traffic at 7am on a Sunday morning.

As I stepped onto the pool deck, I marveled on how great the facility is. The Pan Am Centre in Markham is truly an amazing venue. As I walked over to see my fellow team mates, I quickly chatted with many of them making small talk.

Soon enough, I started my warm up. Only swam 300 meters, and called it an adequate warm up. Then the blocks opened, where I practiced my new dive. I still wasn’t in the racing mindset.

The day was a bust swimming wise. I was tired, and didn’t really want to be there. I’m going to have to rethink this whole Master’s swimming thing.  Not sure if I will attend the Provincials meet.


Win, Lose or Draw

It’s almost the weekend, and I am excited about my second upcoming meet this Sunday at the 6th Annual Thornhill Masters Invitational at Markham’s Pan Am Centre.  To be honest, I am not the biggest supporter of swimming in Master’s swim meets. The main reason is because I think the swim meet is essentially playing to all my disadvantages in a pool setting – namely starting off the blocks, flip turns, and the need to swim ultra-fast. My traditional strengths are in distance, especially in the area of marathon swimming. And as well, I have mentioned this several times for people that know me well – Masters swimming, at least that I am aware of, does not have para classifications. If anyone knows otherwise, please contact me. So the competition is so not fair. But does that really matter? The answer is, it depends.

It depends on what the objectives are.  If the objective is to finish at the top of the age group amongst a group of able-bodied swimmers, well, unfortunately, that’s never going to happen. Ever.  If the objective is to go out and have fun, or to socialize with my fellow swimmers, that’s a different take on competing as well. Being a Libra, I’d say I like to compete and do well, and in addition, socialize with my fellow swimmers.

By the way, if you would like to see my new start off the blocks, watch the video of my swim with the Ducks this morning. Coach Adam filmed us oldies jumping off the blocks. Very cool!!

This is not breaking news by any means, but I think Masters Swimming in Ontario, and in Canada generally, is truly messed up. I’m not going into detail about that whatsoever other than to acknowledge they are unlikely going to address my concerns anytime soon. So does that mean I should boycott swim meets? In the past, I have done just that. I have come up with reasons to not go coupled with why it isn’t worth my while to attend such as the following:

  • I don’t swim in pools I don’t like..
  • I don’t swim in 25 yard pools… that in my opinion further limits me, I don’t want more turns for example??
  • I wish to spend more time with my family, especially now that I have a three year old daughter.

 

 

But attending SOME meets is worth my while. Especially if I like the atmosphere of where I’ll be swimming, and ultimately, competing.  The pool at the Pan Am centre is fantastic, and I frankly really enjoy swimming there win, lose or draw. The pool is 10 lanes, and the water makes me feel fabulous! So that’s the reason why I’m swimming this weekend. Because its fun, and I like the pool. Simple as that.

For the record, I’ll be swimming the following events this Sunday:

  • 200 M fly
  • 200m Free
  • 50 M free
  • 100 M IM

If you’re swimming this Sunday at the meet, please feel free to say hello. J


“Radically Accepting” being a Masters Para Swimmer

Recently, I have been enrolled in a Mindfulness training session at my workplace during my lunch hour. At first, I did not understand what Mindfulness meant. So I performed a Google search, and it displayed the following on my screen:

mind·ful·ness

ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/

noun

1.

the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”

2.

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Must admit, given my business background in my profession, and not being very spiritual in nature, the mindfulness concept of “being conscious or aware of something” seemed to be somewhat off the wall notion I could not wrap my head around.

In my first class, I showed up late because of work commitments where I missed the definition. I was not off to a good start, especially on a topic that was so foreign to me. Our second class was about not being judgemental, and skills to practice judging other people perhaps too quickly. However, it was my third and latest session at this point where the concept of being aware has started to take shape. The class was all about a concept I found interesting called “Radical Acceptance”. The idea behind Radical Acceptance is to accept something that has happened in your life rather than to keep fighting it or staying in denial. The official definition is described as “accepting something with your body, mind, and soul – accept it rather than half-hearted. Accepting it with all of yourself, rather than just with your mind”. (From The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook”.

I had to think long and hard about something that I had “Radically Accepted”. Then, the idea donned upon me that I had accepted the fact that I was a para athlete in swimming, and that I choose to fully accept it, and have done the best with the situation despite having this challenge. Then I thought about a particular situation about my disability that I had accepted, and what I had done to change it. Just this past week, I was thinking about my starts and turns. I discovered a YouTube video of a man in my situation that had tremendous starts. On my turns, I noticed I was not pushing off them efficiently. In an effort to fix this situation, I now push off the walls as hard as I can with my stumps, and now almost reaching the flags.

Fighting with myself by not accepting the situation, may very well have prohibited me from swimming with my able bodied peers. And the consequences of not swimming would mean a massive amount of weight gain, and eventually becoming immobile or wheelchair bound.

I’m going to end this blog post my answering a question about how I feel about being a para swimmer:

 

Question

Am I trilled to be a para swimmer?

No, I’m not thrilled about it. But I now don’t complain about it either. It is what it is. Do I wish I was an able bodied swimmer? Of course I do. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so I am accepting who I am, and making due with what I do have, which is still TONS of ability. However, I am “Radically Accepting” being in this situation, because I’m not fighting about who I am or what I wish I was.

Is there something in swimming or your life in general that you are fighting, which you could “Radically Accept?” Think about it.


Mile Rock – Then and Now

This morning I thought about my accomplishments in the world of swimming. Have to tell you all that I am amazed at what I have accomplished many years ago and even through this season as well. My swimming career started in the late eighties when I was fired from a part time job and decided to join Variety Village, a sports and training centre for the disabled. One of the first things I learned was how to swim and following that, I joined their very first swim team. Soon after that, I quickly qualified for SWAD (Swimmer with a Disability) Provincials and Nationals, and started going to those meets. My issue was that I was a good swimmer, but not a fast swimmer. But I loved to swim length after length in the pool, and seemed to never get tired. After a few months of swimming, after swim practice, I decided to stay behind and not stop swimming until I swam five kilometers in the pool. An hour after everyone on my swim team left the pool, I finally managed to get to my goal, and it felt great!

Mile Rock – Georgian Bay, Ontario

One summer while still a teenager, I went to an Easter Seals camp called Blue Mountain Camp, which was located in the town of Collingwood in Simcoe Country. The camp was located directly on the southern shores of Georgian Bay. Many days, I would just sit by the water and listen to the waves crashing on the shoreline. I was at peace with myself.

One day, the camp Councillors asked us campers if we wanted to swim to a place nicknamed “mile rock”, which was about a mile or so away from the shoreline. Having learned how to swim at Variety Village that summer, I quickly thought that I would swim out to the rock would be fun. A few days later, a Councillor and I started swimming towards the rock. I vividly recall aggressively swimming to the rock, getting closer and closer without getting tired at all. Also, I realized that I could be free, without being in a pool and not having to wear my prosthesis to get around. It was a great feeling. Then I noticed the Councillor getting tired, while I seemed to be okay. She demanded that she get pulled into the nearby kayak accompanying us, while I kept swimming. A few minutes later, I reached the rock, and touched it with my hands. Itwas my first accomplishment as an open water swimmer. I made it to the rock!

Blue Mountain Camp (now closed)

Last summer, my wife and I purchased a trailer north of Owen Sound, which features a lovely small lake. The very first weekend I was there, I went to the deck, and plunged into the cold water where it had snowed just a week earlier. Many people in the RV park must have thought I was crazy. Who would jump into the icy cold water? After many years, I found my new “mile rock”. Every weekend from that first swim, I would go to the deck, take off my prosthesis, jump in the lake and start swimming.

 

Bass Lake Park 


Experimenting with my new Action Cam!

During the holidays, I decided that I would head over to the local electronics store to get my hands on a boxing day deal that I could not refuse. It is an action camera, and apparently, they are all the rage and I have been missing out on it! So I did my research before heading to the store, and decided to go with a  GoPro knock off. The camera I ended up buying was an ActiveOn CX, and I am really happy with my purchase so far. What I like about it most is that it is comparable with GoPro, and it also allows me to buy GoPro accessories.

The first video is me and my local swim partner Alejandro going over a swim set. I’ve become a novice swim coach as well as masters swimmer it seems.

 

The second video that I recorded is a tad goofy. The truth is that I didn’t want to ask the life guards permission to use it, and wanted to record short tid bits just to see how it works. The video quality is amazing! I’ve never seen nor recorded myself underwater before, and even though I was fooling around, the fact that I was able to see myself underwater is pretty cool. In order to share them with you all to see, I decided to create my very own YouTube channel. Yes, I am with the times now! 🙂

The reason why I purchased it is to see and get someone to record me swimming underwater, so that I can see myself swimming and compare to the best swimmers in the world. Not that I want to be the best swimmer in the world, just a reasonable copy would be just fine with me! J

In the third video, I recorded myself swimming a 50 meter swim during my warm up.

Over the coming weeks, I hope to take the action cam to practice and record myself, and others (if interested) on how their strokes look in and out of the water. Not to mention, I think using the action cam for other hobbies that I have like at my camp ground up north I think would be awesome.

If you have any other ideas on how an action camera could be useful, please let me know!

 

 


Diving off the blocks like Rudy!

This post is about my swim starts off the blocks. The situation at present is that I don’t like my starts at all. I’d like to change my swim starts to what U.S Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson uses when he starts off the blocks. We basically have the same level of amputation, which is through the knee.

I think that I have been doing starts incorrectly my entire swimming career.  I’ll have to post what my starts look like, and look more what Rudy does.

 

Let me know what you think, folks.


Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone,

I would like to wish all of you a very happy New Year!

May you all have peace, love, good health and prosperity in 2017! It’s hard to believe that we are already encroaching upon the mid-season in the masters swim season. It seemed as though the swim season started just yesterday, when in fact it was a few months ago in September.

Some competitions in the masters season has occurred, namely the Etobicoke meet and the North York Pentathlon. I know that there are more upcoming, with February being a busy month meet wise. Of course, the big meet is the upcoming Provincials competition, which is in my opinion a fantastic meet. Hope to see you all at the meets, and if you recognize me, please say hello!

Incidentally, I’m looking for some masters swimmers to profile as I generally prefer to write about others, rather than myself. If you are at all interested, please e-mail me at carlos3000@hotmail.com, with the subject title “Carlos Waves story idea(s)”. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy Swimming!

Regards,

Carlos


12 Days of Christmas

In honour of the Aurora Master Ducks 12 Days of Christmas workout this Sunday, I thought I would find some examples of what Adam may have in store for us. So I went digging on the internet to see what I could find as good examples of what others do for a similar workout.

The first interesting workout I found was a rather hilarious video which is kind of corny, but rather funny.. have a look at it.

Also, below are two samples which combine all strokes, speeds, and even incorporating some block diving starts to make things interesting. Perhaps some of us can swim these workouts during the Christmas break to keep us in shape?

12-days

#1

500 warmup
12×75 (50 of one stroke, 25 of another stroke) on 1:20
11×50 free on :50
10×25 on :30 (odd fly, even breast)
9×50 (25 of one stroke, 25 of another stroke) on :55
8×100 free on 1:30, hold under 1:15 or 1:20 depending on ability
7×50 back on :50
6×125 (100 free/25 no free) on 1:50
5×50 free on :45
4×25 fly on :25
3×50 breast on :50
2×200 free on 4:00 from the blocks (“Always trying to get them up and race when they are tired.”)
1×200 fly from the blocks
300 warmdown

12_days_christmas_swimming_challenge_workout

#2

(all on about 20-seconds rest)
12 x 75 Swim, steady, every 3rd repeat = no freestyle
11 x 50 Swim, steady, alternate free/stroke
10 x 25 Steady, alternate 25 kick / 25 swim
9 x 75 Swim, last 25 always faster effort
8 x 50 Swim, steady
7 x 25 Swim, fast
6 x 75 Swim, steady
5 x 50 Swim, fast
4 x 25 Kick, flippers, fast
3 x 75 Swim, flippers, fast
2 x 50 Swim, flippers, fast
1 x 100 Swim, flippers, big finish!
Cool down as desired

TOTAL DISTANCE = 4,100

Which workout do you prefer?

 


Anita Doppenberg, Mom of Five, Conquers Lake Erie

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This post is about a story about a remarkable 44 year old woman whom embarked on a marathon swim in the hopes of making other people’s lives better. Meet Anita Doppenberg, whom this past summer decided to swim across the waters of Lake Erie to complete a crossing to raise funds to assist the Mayan people of Guatemala.

Anita humbly describes herself as a stay at home mother of five. She loves the water and swimming, and comments that she boats quite often on the weekends in the summer. Anita also volunteers at schools and at Church. What I found interesting about Anita is that she is interested in a hobby farm where she can raise livestock and have “fresh eggs and veggies”. She hopes the fruit trees will bear fresh fruit in the years to come.

I asked Anita she came up with the idea to raise money to help the Mayan people in Guatemala. In her own words, she described to be how she thought of the idea. Anita states vividly “ I went to Guatemala where some family have moved to permanently live there to help the Mayan people. These people are very poor. There is so much to do there. I came home and felt so helpless and hopeless. I so badly wanted to help and do more. I asked myself what I am good at and thought of swimming. This was the birth of the idea to do a fairly big swim to raise funds for this cause. Once I found a fundraiser coordinator who really is responsible for getting every last dollar of the 21,000 dollars that were raised. I just had to focus on training”.

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My next question to Anita was about her background in swimming, especially given the fact she planned for what would end up being a grueling and challenging 19 km swim across Lake Erie. What I found surprising, yet admirable was the amount of swimming she had before she had decided to complete her crossing. Anita says that she “dabbled in a summer swim team for 1 season” and also swum on her own in pools as well as in Lake Ontario. She adds that she never really competed until she needed to train for Lake Erie by competing in open water races where she was exposed to a wide range of distances, temperature fluctuations, as well as different bodies of water. From what Anita told me, I thought she just decided to go for it once she had a vision of what she wanted to accomplish.

The following four questions are in question and answer format, because upon reading Anita’s responses to my questions, I thought it would be best to present them as a direct response as I felt it would be best to capture the emotion of her story of describing aspects of her Lake Erie swim.

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My Question to Anita:

  1. In an online news article, the reporter noted that you were facing tough conditions just one and a half kilometers into your swim, yet you ended up finishing ahead of schedule. How did you conquer these issues to press on until you completed your swim?

Anita’s Answer:

“The first two hours were quite rough. The rolling boats made a couple of crew members sick. I was despairing and thought I cannot do this for 8 hours. Then I got mad! Mad at the waves, mad at my suit, mad at myself and even mad at my swim master! My husband could tell I was mad by the way I was swimming. I didn’t like what was happening so as I swam I thought of ways to fix it. Next feed, I told my media person to tell all the supporters on-line to pray for better conditions. My suit felt like it was dragging, so I took it off! I asked my coach what to do. He said “keep head down and kick, the wind was expected to die down”. And then it calmed. What a relief! With the calmer waters my media person was able to check the gofundme page and update me as money came in by writing the amount on a white board that I could read when I breathed on that side. She also put jokes, riddles and messages people were posting on-line. I thought of each person who donated, pictured them in my mind, saw their kids, saw their smiles and even heard their laughs. This was a great way to distract me from fatigue and boredom. I would also imagine the Mayan people and how they lived”.

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My Question to Anita:

How did you feel when you were greeted by more than 100 friends and family when you reached shore?

Anita’s Answer:

“Completely humbled! It was just Lake Erie! I was so touched by the support! It was really unbelievable! I was so relieved it was over and that I had been able to finish as I had doubted all along that I was ready. Adrenalin must have hit then because I felt amazing, even my shoulders! I kept going the rest of the day and barely slept that night, and kept going all the following day”.

My Question to Anita:

After your swim, you continue to tell your story and motivate others to make positive change. What gave you the motivation and the inspiration to tell your story to others, especially children?

Anita’s Answer:

“ I learned so much from this journey. Not only about others but about myself too. I want to try to create empathy in kids for others and then the courage and confidence to change things that are unjust. It can be anything”.

My Question to Anita:

What inspires and motivates you? What are your talents and strengths? Can you connect the two?

Anita’s Answer:

I believe everyone has a purpose and can be the change with the right support and tools. On the back of my workout log I wrote words/phrases to help me when I wanted to quit. Some examples being……habit, push, clear your head, step out of the norm, be grateful, ALWAYS do your best, make it your own, no excuses, focus, fight the negativity, strong, hate it now love it later, it’s just a feeling, do it because you can, do not psych yourself out, commitment, stay calm and breath, appreciate the challenge, you are a competitor, trust your training, confidence”.

Her children also had something to say about their mom. They asked her to expand on her sentence “do it because you can”.  Anita responded by saying “there are many people who can’t. Just walk through the cancer clinic or Sick Kid’s hospital. If you are healthy and able bodied…don’t waste it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


The perfect Swim Practice

Good day everyone!

I hope that everyone is enjoying reading the blog. In regards to today’s post, I thought I would try something different and reference an article about the art and science of swimming itself.

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Don’t get me wrong, posts about outstanding individuals to me are fascinating, however there also needs to be a balance with some general swimming news and tips.

Many of you may know of a blog called Swimming Science. It’s a blog about the scientific aspects of swimming that I personally find really useful. A post that I found that could help you in your quest to reach your swimming goals is about swimming the perfect swim practice. We often have many demands placed on our time – family, friends, and of course for most of us – our careers. The tips recommended are top notch, and I recommend you review them and consider implementing, if not already done.

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If you are interested in tips in perfecting your time at the pool, please read the blog post referenced here. Ignore the references to parents, as this post was written to be geared towards a younger age group athlete.