Battling the Open Water Solo

Swimming is often seen as a solo sport which for some is just how they like it. I regularly see people who just love to jump in the pool early in the morning, week in week out, follow the same routine swimming lap upon lap. This for them is a daily spiritual ritual, a quick chat at the door before commencing their commune with the water. A quiet time, maybe the only one of the day, stroke by stroke, lap by lap. Once started this ritual is hard to break, you become rusted to the routine. I know I’ve been there, feeling quite out of kilter when I occasionally had to miss a morning. This was my first committed relationship with the water.

I can swim alone or with others. I enjoy the comradery, the mild competition, the banter of getting in the pool with my pals. I can swim anywhere and do anything when I’m with them. When I’m alone unbeknownst to my fellow lappers, I often peg myself against another in my lane or the next and rate my performance. Yes, they’re in a race and they don’t even know it. I often wonder, have I got faster or are they slowing down. It’s hard to know when your competition is unknown. They’re an unaware victim of my competitive nature, my need for one upmanship.

For me there is much more to this world than just swimming and door side chats. The water provides me with a platform to find my best self. It allows me to challenge this middle-aged body and will myself towards my dreams. But I’ve learned, I can’t do this alone. I need help!

When I say help, I mean I need a swimming buddy. This is not just someone who swims on a daily basis with me, this is someone special who shares my swimming dreams. Someone who can spur me on, has their eye on the same milestone and seeks the same adventure. I had a wonderful swim buddy a few years ago. Sadly for both of us, in 2015 she relocated overseas.

My swimming buddy encouraged me to overcome my fear and start swimming in the ocean, a true feat.  She inspired me to sign up for my first overseas swimming holiday which took me to one of the most spectacular places on earth. She had me swimming longer than I ever had, daily.  It is still her, albeit from the other side of the planet, who inspires me to believe I can actually attempt a 10km swim. Yet she’s not here each day, I can’t meet her at training to further water our seedlings of dreams. I have felt my motivation wain, my training fall away and swim goals wanting.

I know I’m not alone, I see it with the squads I swim with. Without a swim goal and a swim buddy many are rudderless. How do you get yourself going and select the right goal? Finding the ‘right’ person to share the swimming experiences you seek is not always easy. It takes a special person push you along, make sure you’re committed to the program. I found my swim buddy at the swim club I was involved with. We swam in the same lane at about the same pace. She is a much more experienced swimmer and so she took me under her wing and led me to swimming opportunities I wouldn’t have gone near.

She believed in me and had faith in my swimming abilities. She still does. Only a good friend would be willing to sit out at the point at South Manly Beach and watch the sunrise while treading water.

Group Of Sydney Swimmers Members in the Ocean

My swimming took a down turn in the winter months. My times are barely ok, my stroke count embarrassing and my overall fitness, best described as sluggish. As spring has arrived, I have set my swimming goals for 2018. I want to improve my times in relay swims at Rottnest and Lake Argyle. I hope a new swimming buddy will emerge this summer to help me achieve these.

My vision for Sydney Swimmers is to make swimming accessible for swimmers of all levels. To encourage fitness in a friendly environment, to build a community of swimmers who enjoy swimming together both in open water and in pool, people who want to improve.  If you’re like me, looking for a way to get back on track with your swimming, join our community at Sydney Swimmers. We definitely have the training program to lift your fitness, a wide array of session times and we may even have the swimming buddy you’ve always been seeking. It’s time to start thinking about your swimming goal for this season and make the commitment.