My husband eagerly volunteered to swim part of a triathlon yesterday. The swimming part.
His commitment was unmistakeable over Christmas dinner last year when my two athletic sisters-in-law (one a runner, one a biker) were chatting about wanting to do a triathlon together if only they could find a third person who could swim.
Greg raised his head ever-so-slightly above his full beer stein and turkey leg and slurred, “I’ll be your shwimmer, I can slim.”
He had several months to back out of his participation in the event. Right up until the day before in fact, teams were withdrawing due to the freezing conditions of the lake.
If only Greg hadn’t had another full beer glass, he may have considered re-thinking his plan.
He was determined. He was sober. He was swimming.
I would mention to people that Greg was swimming in a triathlon this summer and would often receive the following counter, “Greg who?” Or “Greg…..your Greg?” Or, “Does Greg swim?” And “Is he training?”
Greg my husband. Yes my Greg. Yes he swims to cool off. No he isn’t training.
It seemed like a fantastic idea.
Except the rest of the world wanted to warn him of the dangers of swimming.
He heard from a number of previous triathletes who told him some or all of the following in brief conversations about the competition.
“People will punch you when you’re in the water.”
“People will kick you when you’re trying to swim.”
“People will swim over top of you and push you under the water.”
“You will have to wear an unflattering wet-suit and cap.”
“Your nipples will get so chafed.”
“I nearly drowned when I swam in that lake.”
“I lost my contacts the last time I swam in that lake.”
“Do you have any idea how cold that water is?”
“You think you’re swimming 1.5kms but you really swim more like 12kms because you get way off course.”
“Did you know when you get out of the water you have to sprint up a hill that’s on a 90 degree angle–straight up?”
“Do you swim?”
“Have you trained?”
“Were you drunk when you agreed to do this?”
We received emails and calls from people warning Greg not to attempt the triathlon saying it would be too hard.
We heard from family and friends who wanted to support Greg but always finished the conversation, “It’s not too late to pull out.”
I knew he could do it. He knew he could do it. Our kids who cheered at every swimmer in the lake, “Go Daddy! You can do it!” Knew he could do it.
He swam in his baby blue cap in the group for men 45-60 years old which may have been an error but not one any of us were willing to argue.
He swam 1.5kms in 34 minutes and walked/jogged up a gradual slope to hand off to our sister-in-law.
He did it.
We are so proud of our triathlete.
In a full circle moment, he is celebrating with a beer.