I heard some awful news yesterday - one of the participants of the Vineman 70.3, who was an experienced triathlete, died after being pulled from the Russian River swim. This is upsetting because she is an athlete, like me, prepared to compete, like me, and unfortunately something happened in the water. It probably wasn't the event itself. A few years ago during the San Jose Rock and Roll half marathon two runners died near the finish line. All of my non-runner friends were convinced that running is a killer sport, but I truly believe that it was not the running that caused it, it just happened during a race.
As my friend Christine reminded me last night, "They could have died doing nothing. They just happened to die during a triathlon." That is a comforting thought to an extent. Like, I'm not going to stop flying on airplanes or driving because it is dangerous. I'm not going to stop pushing my limits because it's the safe thing to do. That would be a boring life.
Unfortunately she is not the only victim of the Russian River this summer. The other deaths in the RR this summer were all non-swimmers. This is when I really start to mind-f#$k myself into thinking that I'm not a real swimmer either.
There are all kinds of articles out there about the dangers of open water swimming, and swim and triathlon organizations have even considered making all participants take a swim test, or have an open water certification, before they are able to compete in events. I've talked to a lot of people, even very experienced swimmers, who have had panic attacks in the water.
So, I had to swim last night to prove to myself that I am, in fact, a swimmer. I'm not the greatest swimmer, or the fastest swimmer, but even when I had terrible form and felt off in the water for a few minutes - I was still moving on top of the water. Even if I have to wade, or kick on my back for awhile. I'm still swimming.
Plus, most of the Russian River is only four to eight feet deep. I will be swimming in a puddle most of the time.
Parents, please teach your kids how to swim, or at least how to be comfortable in the water. Throw them into a pool and make them swim across. Take them out on boats, teach them to water ski, let them get knocked down by a few waves. Seriously. This is my biggest problem as a 32 year old? That just isn't right.
I'm going to wear a wetsuit on race day. Need that extra assurance.