I checked off a bucket list item on Labour Day Monday morning. I swam with the Triathlon Club of Burlington (TCoB), in their annual Pier to Pier swim. This swim is 2.8km, across Lake Ontario, from the Burlington lift bridge pier to Burlington’s downtown pier.
Usually on Labour Day Monday, you can find me in my happy place, along the Lake Ontario shoreline, on a long solo run to clear my mind and get myself mentally prepped for the upcoming school year. With a teacher husband and two school-aged children, Labour Day is like my New Year; a fresh start, new goals, big dreams. And every year, I’ve noticed the TCoB crew climbing out of the water with big smiles and high fives, and sunshine on a glassy lake only adds to the appeal. Always up for a challenge, I wanted in on the fun, so a little over a week ago, I signed myself up.
My husband thought I was crazy; 2.8km and I haven’t swum a stroke in almost a decade. In fact, I’ve never even put on a wetsuit before, and I didn’t have time to test my borrowed suit out before yesterday’s event, so it was a jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best situation. But, I used to be a lifeguard, and a decade ago I did a handful of triathlons, including a 1.9km swim in my 2007 half-Ironman. So while I haven’t swum in many years, I hoped my previous experience, swim technique, and fitness could carry me through.
Monday morning at 7:15am, two of my girlfriends met me at home, and the three of us trekked down to the pier. They were rookies too, although one is a regular lap-swimmer and one had just come off a great triathlon season. They gave me tips on getting into my wetsuit (a workout in itself!), BodyGlide advice, and how to loop my zipper string. I was woefully underprepared, and felt like I should personally introduce myself to the kayak support boats. Deep down though, I knew that sheer determination (stubbornness?) would get me across the water.
I finished in 58:36, just under the one-hour mark that my obsessive Google calculations of “open water swim times” told me I could do. And while I don’t plan on adding swim training to my schedule, I truly enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed the nerves, the challenge, the friends and family, the sunshine, the sense of accomplishment, and the gratitude that I am physically able to do things like this.
“Why would you want to do that?” someone asked me. “Because I can.” And oh how I love a challenge.
In fact, this just may become a new tradition.