This guest blog has been written by Thrive Consultant Sue Tetley.
I have been a member of a local triathlon club for about 2 years now. One of my main challenges has been to get more confident swimming open water and to master my front crawl. In April I went swimming in my local lake for the first time and managed 300 meters which was a big achievement for me. From never contemplating being able to complete sprint distance open water triathlons, I have now completed two 2 km sea swims and a 1.5 km sea swim at a swim festival in Barbados. Yes I was a little nervous at the first event, however I knew I could do it and kept imagining how amazing I would feel once I had completed it. I was certainly applying all my knowledge and skills acquired from the Thrive Programme, imagining what I wanted to happen rather than what I feared.
2 km is the furthest I have ever swam in one go. The second swim I did at this distance was particularly challenging as the sea was rather choppy and there was no protection from a bay like the previous swim. At the beginning of the event when they were describing where we were heading I was quite surprised as it looked so far! They also said they had more kayaks for this swim due to the added difficulty! I swam with an amazing friend who helpfully is a swimming teacher and triathlon coach. She was there to support and I even got some great swimming tips in the process. At times I felt I wasn’t really getting very far but I was so determined that I just kept going. It would have been easy for my imagination to get carried away and catastrophic thoughts to kick in. However I know how powerful my imagination can be and only imagined what I wanted to happen. If I had started over-thinking and panicking I was going to drown I would never have completed the swim. However I had been gradually increasing my distance swimming all summer and I had that evidence to draw on that I could do it. My logical brain was still in tact and I knew no one was going to let me drown!!
Nearly everyone was heading back to shore at the halfway point and I was still trying to get to the turnaround point. I didn’t really care how fast I did it in or whether I was one of the last swimmers, this was just a massive achievement for me. One of the guys in the kayaks asked at the point I turned around if I wanted a tow back part way. I refused! Stubborn Sue had well and truly kicked in and I was not going to give up now! The way back was much easier as the tide was coming in. I even managed a sprint finish which surprised myself and my friend!
This experience was a huge positive for me . In April although I had booked to go to this swimming festival, thinking about doing a 2 km swim was rather difficult to comprehend and a little overwhelming. It’s rather like when people apply to do a marathon. When starting to train it’s more helpful to think about short terms goals to build up the evidence and self-belief. I did this with my swimming and used a belief wall like I do with my clients to help me see what I have achieved and how far I have come. Training never goes in a linear progression and everyone has blips and off days when things don’t go as planned. However remembering where I started from really helped keep this in perspective. It really is about persistent and continuous effort and never giving up on the goal. I often hear people saying that they would never be able to achieve certain goals or they are too old to do such things, be it a physical challenge, learning a new language or an instrument. This really isn’t true. It’s just about practice, practice, practice. If you think about highly talented sports people or musicians, they weren’t born with these skills, however, they started from a very young age and likely got in their 10000 hours of practice whilst still in their teens .
I have lots more challenges planned for next year. Knowing that I can swim that distance in a choppy sea now gives me the confidence that I could do a 2 mile swim in a lake and an Olympic distance triathlon. What goals does everyone else have for next year? Much better to start thinking about this now than in the New Year.