Lesley Mulcahy, a public relations professional working in the non-profit sector, will be swimming 28 kilometres in the Aegean Sea this October, as part of a fundraiser for the Nova Scotia Community College. She will be documenting the hills and valleys – and waves and breakers – of her personal journey with regular updates on www.optimyz.com. For feedback, information or to find out how to support NSCC’s Swim for the College 2008, please contact Lesley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the beginning: facing the fear
Swimming. 28 kilometres. In Greece. In a bathing suit. With people watching.
It’s daunting to even write those words. But it’s what I’ll be doing this October 5-15, as a team member of Swim for the College 2008 – an event to raise funds for student bursaries, scholarships and awards at the Nova Scotia Community College. I’m not a swimmer, I loathe swimsuits and this will be a test like no other I’ve ever taken before, yet I feel the need to do this, to give back while at the same time challenging myself.
I was five when I failed my first and only set of swimming lessons. I always thought it was the instructor who I didn’t trust, but realistically, I probably didn’t trust myself. Then during a family vacation, when I was all of eight years old, my dad sat on the side of the pool and gave me some tips and encouragement. Within an hour, I was swimming in the deep end.
Now at the age of 28, one would think that these childhood moments shouldn’t hold much significance for me. And yet, I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind since I signed on for this swim. One represents a memory of failing, the other of overcoming. My fear is not knowing which word will best describe this journey in the end.
I’ve always been a fairly active person but I’ve also always been a curvy girl with extra weight. I am not physically conditioned for 28 kilometres of swimming. I have zero swimming technique, I’ve never had to swim with my face in the water or make sure I was breathing properly, and the last time I went swimming was 2004. Oh, and I hate swimsuits, too. It’s a part of the reason I haven’t swam in so long…and have avoided pools, lakes, beaches and hot locations like the plague.
So, here I am at the beginning, facing what is likely my biggest physical and mental challenge to date. It surprises me that while the physical aspect of this swim scares me, I’m also oddly comfortable with it. That’s what eight months of training is for. It’s bound to be filled with ups and downs but I know if I’m dedicated to it, it’s possible. What really worries me is that in 28 years, I have never been 100% comfortable with my body – and certainly not in a swimsuit.
I know I physically have the power to change my body, to build my technique, my endurance and my ability. But do I have the power to change my mind?
It looks like I’m going to find out.