Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Out of the Comfort Zone- 2016 USMS One Hour Swim

This post originally appeared in the #TeamSelkie blog.

Out of the comfort zone – Laura ‘Hold Fast’ Picardo #teamselkie

I don’t like being timed. Crazy for a swimmer, right? Those hands on the clock really like to mess with my head. Part of what I love about marathon swimming is that outside of practice sets, the goal when you jump into the water is simple: just keep swimming.
So, when my wonderful coach told me she wanted me to participate in United States Masters Swimming’s (USMS) annual One Hour Swim, I did not exactly bubble with joy. At this point in my open water career, swimming an hour is not super challenging, but swimming an hour in a pool with a timer? Seriously not my thing. But what coach says, I do.
I got to Asphalt Green, an amazing Olympic pool (home of 2012 bronze medalist Lia Neal) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan a little bit before 06:00. Due to pool hours, I didn’t get in a solid warm up. I knew that could mean trouble, but I tried to put that out of my head. My boyfriend and trusty lap counter, Francis, took his position with the stopwatch (he is a marathoner, so he understands early wake-ups and the pressure of timing), and I was off. The beginning was terrible. Absolutely terrible. I just felt tight and those wonderful little voices of doubt permeated my mind. But like in all swims, I calmed down, got into my rhythm, and found my happy place. Mentally, I was still not exactly happy that I was being watched by the specter of the clock, but physically, my body felt amazing. The strength I felt in my shoulders and legs just reminded me that this is what my body is trained and meant to do. It helped me refocus on the swim and not on that unholy timepiece.
As I finished, I felt relief, excitement, and pride that I got out of my comfort zone, and didn’t quit or break down. Even though it was not a major swim, to me it was a major step in getting over some of the self-doubt that I have had about my athletic abilities. It is that feeling of accomplishment that I will be able to take with me as I continue to train for my larger events. I guess that is why my coach wanted me to do it (she is pretty wise). But the best part is that I won’t have to do a USMS One Hour Swim until next year. Yay.
Hold fast.

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