It’s 5 days before my biggest swim of the summer and I’m having a strange feeling.
On Saturday, I am supposed to hit the waters of Lake Memphremagog at 5:30 in the morning, start swimming my way to Canada, and then swim back again.
It’s my third time participating in the Kingdom Swim, a fantastic day on the water with distances from 1-mile to 15. It’s an arena where open water swimmers of all types can test themselves
I’ve done the 10-mile swim twice, and this time, when looking for another open water swim for the season, it was logical that I sign up for the 15.
Here’s what’s freaking me out: the mojo isn’t there.
That feeling that I get, where I’m nervous but also excited and ready to kick the butt out of this swim?
It’s missing this time. I can tell it is missing in many different ways, primarily the fact that I haven’t obsessively packed my bags 5 times already, and in fact, have not even gathered everything together yet.
This is a new thing for me. To have that feeling gone.
I don’t mean I am not nervous. That’s an ever-present sensation that has never failed to appear before any athletic endeavor of any type. That nauseous feeling in my stomach, that questioning myself, and that wondering why I thought this was a good idea? That comes, without fail, weeks before any swim is scheduled to begin.
But this time, there’s another feeling. Or a lack of a feeling. It’s not indifference. It’s something else.
And I think that it may represent a new chapter in my swimming.
I think it might mean that I am almost done with organized swims, with some exceptions.
I think I might no longer motivated by organized larger swims of this nature, although the St. Croix 5-mile swim will ALWAYS be a must for me.
I think I am done with crowds and companions and swims that are more than a few people, standing on a beach and then starting a swim together. 5-10 people doing a swim? Sounds just about right to me these days.
I feel myself longing for more solitude in my swimming and more and more, I want to swim on my own schedule, with my own agenda.
Perhaps it’s about longing for a return to the introverted version of swimming. A sense that swimming is for me, because it is.
The Kingdom Swim is a rocking event, with amazing swimmers who come from all over the world. Swimmers are welcomed and feted and there’s even a parade! A parade! It’s a wonderful gift to the world of open water swimming, expanding the community and encouraging participants to bond and come together.
For me, though, it also means socializing and events the night before and the night after and talking with people and yes, a feeling of camaraderie, but also the pressure of being a part of something. (I’ve never been much of a joiner.)
That stuff is great in so very many ways. But for me, more and more as I make my way through this swimming life, swimming is my solitude. Even when I’m at Masters practice, I am swimming for me, and the added pressure of socializing when I go to a race is something I’m not sure I’m so jazzed about anymore.
The night before a swim, I want quiet. I want a meal with my family and a good sleep.
Perhaps what I want is an Introverts swim race! No need to talk to anyone, and then we all just swim, and after, perhaps we share a snack and a beverage.
More and more, I want to make choices about my swimming that are mine alone. I want to pick an island and swim around it. I want to swim from one town to another in the Turkish seas. I want to cover an expanse that is beautiful and salty and warm and builds memories for me, and my family.
I want to swim, and swim, and swim. And mostly, I don’t even want to know how many miles I have gone, or what my time has been, or where I placed relative to other people.
Of course, maybe I’m completely full of crap and it’s just about being afraid and the water being cold and my fears around that. Maybe it’s about being sick for two weeks and then working too much and just being darn tired.
If that’s it, it will pass as soon as I start my calm, even strokes through the water. That is, depending upon what the water temperature is!
And if it’s not, then I will know that. And I will spend my swim internalizing that message, determining what is next for me.
I’ll head North, to Vermont, on Friday. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my wonky right shoulder, which is hurting even as I write, holds out for the 15-miles. I’ll keep my hopes up that the water will be warmer than I remember it being, and that my new feeding system is going to work well.
I’ll remember that I’ve put in the training time, and that I can do this swim, just as I have done others before it.
And I’ll spend time wondering what comes next. Because there is no end to this love I have for this swimming thing, but perhaps, a change, a new dimension, and a logical next step is coming.