Friday, July 20, 2012

Eight Exciting Things: Number 8

And for my next trick ...

(a.k.a., The Summer of Swimming)

Pre-triathlon, I wondered if I would have so much fun in the triathlon that I would immediately go ahead and sign up for another one. 

That did not happen. 

I mean, the tri was a great experience, one I'm glad I did.  And I haven't ruled out the possibility of doing another one next year.  But the major logistical hassles of getting all my gear where it needed to be were more than I wanted to handle another time this year. 

Still, I liked the idea of having another athletic goal to work toward.  Thinking about how the swim was my strongest portion of the triathlon, I decided to focus on an all-swimming event. 

And it was actually a flier in the triathlon participant packet that led me to my next event:

Swim Across America!

Swim Across America is actually a series of different swims which, as the name implies, take place all over the country.  Each event raises money for a different local cancer charity. 

The Chicago event is August 4 and raises money for Rush University Medical Center, a hospital and leader in the field of cancer research. 

Swimmers can choose the distance they want to swim.  I chose 1 mile. 

I set a goal to raise $1,000.

I need help.  I am not even close to that goal. 

Do you want to sponsor me?  This is a link to my personal fundraising page.  There's also a link in the upper-right-hand corner of my sidebar.  Thank you in advance!

Meanwhile, the training for a mile in open water has been ... harder than I thought it would be.  You might be thinking, Well, duh, Shannon, swimming a mile is kind of hard. 

But, the thing is, I was kind of overly-confident in my ability to swim a mile.  I swam a mile when I was ten at Montecito-Sequoia Family Summer Camp.  I swim about a mile every time I get in the pool. 

But, (a) that's a pool, and (b) all of the sudden my hubris has foiled me to the point that I struggle to even swim a mile.  My mind has gotten the better of me.  Swimming makes me hungry and sick, and I find both of those conditions lead to panic. 

Once again, the psychological challenge has proven to be just as daunting as the physical challenge.  That must be why the contestants on Double Dare always picked the physical challenge over answering the trivia question. 

To combat my mental block, I decided to turn to the time-honored tradition of Gold Stars. 

First I checked out a library book by one of my swimming heroes, Olympic swimmer Janet Evans.  Janet Evans' Total Swimming outlined several workouts, which I photocopied and put in a binder.

Each time I finished a workout, I would get a gold star:

I very quickly ran out of do-able workouts, and the psychological challenges returned.  An influx of other professional obligations have also severely compromised my training time and energy. 

So let me look to a hackneyed Internet poster meme for inspiration:

Meanwhile, for further inspiration I have decided to immerse myself (no pun intended) in all things swimming this summer and declare it The Summer of Swimming.  (And obviously the Seinfeld reference here was intended.) 

As part of the Summer of Swimming, Nathan's main organized activity was swimming lessons.  We did a (personal) record three sessions of swim lessons.  Nathan enjoyed the lessons more than ever before, and I enjoyed the way the morning sessions gave us a reason to get out of the house and gave me a half-hour to sit by the pool and regroup. 

Also as part of The Summer of Swimming, I read a book called Swim: Why We Love the Water, by former 20/20 correspondent Lynn Sherr.  The book is a look at all things swimming, from the history of the sport, to the evolution of the bathing suit, to why people seem to just naturally love swimming.  It's a great book for swimmers.  Others, probably not so much. 

I also checked out a collection DVDs featuring the films of Esther Williams from the 40's and 50's.  Esther Williams was the star of several of that era's "aquacades," films that culminated with ellaborately-choreographed water ballets.  (The commercials for the NuvaRing, where the swimmers represent birth-control pills, are kind of modeled after these films.) 

Here is what I learned about Esther Williams movies: They all feature a long and somewhat weak romantic storyline, during which Esther plays somebody whose career is somehow connected to swimming (swim instructor, bathing suit model) and brief references are made to some water ballet that has nothing to do with the main plot.  Then, in the end, there's an awesome water ballet.  You're better off just watching the final scene if you're into that kind of stuff. 

And, focusing on more modern-day role models, I have already spent a week during the Summer of Swimming watching every minute of the Olympic swimming trials (okay, I admit to fast-forwarding through some of the longer races), and I'm looking forward to the actual Olympics next week.  The media is really playing up the rivalry between Michael Phelps and his teammate Ryan Lochte, which is fine in my opinion because they are both very good-looking and can have all the screen time the media wants to give them. 

Finally, if nothing else works to inspire me, I have turned to my other love, office supplies, and purchased these awesome swimmer binder clips from my online fave, Tokyo Pen Shop.  

This way when I use them to close up a bag of chips, I can be like, Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be swimming.

So, that's the story of the Summer of Swimming and my big swimming endeavor coming up in a couple of weeks.  Want to inspire me by sponsoring me in the event?  Here's another link to my fundraising page! 

Thanks you guys, and I hope you're having a swimmingly great summer!