As I waded out into the temperate waters, lapping against the shingled shoreline of my hometown Southend on Sea. I tickled the surface with my finger tips, before plunging my hands downward. The cold travelled up my arms, as I continued to make my way deeper and deeper into the sea.The water soaking upwards towards my chest. Until finally, I submerged myself fully.
The cold enveloped me.
I immediately felt restored to health.
I’ve enjoyed swimming since I was a child – many happy summers were spent playing on the beach in the company of my mum and family friends. I completed all the swimming exams at school and have always loved being in or on the water.
Travelling the globe, meant that I was able to indulge this love in many different places. From the little thai island of Koh Tao to the more touristy but beautiful Koh Chang – where I have spent many weekends floating on my back, in its emerald waters, just off the small, golden sandy beach of Had Sai Noi.
I discovered reef sharks in the undersea world lapping the shoreline of The Perhentian Islands and within the Great Barrier Reef, I discovered what it meant to scuba dive one of the most touristy, natural wonders in the world. The chilly waters of Picton and Cable Bay-Nelson, all had their own allure, as does the whole of New Zealand for me. Especially Kaikora, where I watched the sea spray roll like mist, over the expansive beach.
The Thames Estuary does not always have the same appeal but it is the body of water which is close to my home and so the one which has become my swimming zone. I’ve tried to get back in the pool a couple of times but as much as I enjoy the sauna and rocking up to the fitness centre – my enjoyment is subdued each time the pool is full to brimming, with those intent on hammering out as many lengths as possible – to the other extreme of the women swimming in pairs and enjoying a conversation as they slowly make their way up the lane.
I reside somewhere in between and have always wanted to enjoy and relish my time spent in the water, in a way which suited me. Which is exactly why I began open water swimming before it become fashionable – when there only used to be me dipping in occasional murky waters. Now it is popular and stand up paddle boards and kayaks have become a thing, I have to be a bit more watchful of.
Yet it has been through my decision to become a tad more serious about my swimming, to ensure I enjoy a good workout, whilst loving being in the briny water, which has allowed me to come face to face with the fears, which seem intent to slow me down.
The first was feeling scared that a great white shark may gobble me up. That’s right on the Thames Estuary in England – an hour away from London. ‘Hello,’ I said to it. Acknowledging its desire to shift me out of the water sharpish. Holding my nerve as much as possible. To the other day – when a neep tide brought the water really close to the beach huts and I decided I didn’t have to wade out deeply to have a swim which was out of my depth. Suddenly my mind threw up a sink hole, opening up below me and sucking me down into its depths! I was approximately 8 feet from the shore.
I’ve chosen to embrace these fears with curiosity and a hint of humour.
Why is my mind trying to stop me from progressing at something I love. Why does it feel fear at this and what can I do to help myself?
I have a chat with the fear – I acknowledge it and say, ‘hello – I know you’re there, but I’m here also.’ I smile at it, provide comfort to myself and explore what this fear is trying to tell me.
Is it concerned that I won’t have the fun I used to – if I commit to a swimming practice rather than an enjoyable dip!
The questions are all there. Here is the thought stream which I use to help me deal with this in a curious manner:
- I think it is my job to explore and examine the fear – develop understanding of my want combined with need.
- Discover if there is anything else I can do, to help myself move through the fear.
- Keep on track towards my goal of teaching myself the front crawl, so that I can spend more time competently in the sea.
- Recognise and acknowledge my progression.
- Increase my cardiovascular work out and stamina, in a place which isn’t overcrowded but simply beautiful.
- Allow the feel of water on my skin and in my face bring out the happiness within.
Building consistency and taking those small steps are not easy but I am an incredibly motivated individual who is wild about wellbeing and know how to achieve the goals – what to work towards, how to do it and when. Using my skills, abilities, knowledge, insight and wisdom I have already committed to and created much of what I wanted in my life.
What would you like to create or achieve?
I’d love you to let me know…