One, Two, Three, Breathe; A body in motion.
As a child I loved the water, I attended weekly swimming lessons and spent as much time as possible in the pool. I was referred to as fish or water baby until I was a teenager.
I entered in the school sports swimming carnivals every year and am proud of my ribbons, I wanted to be fast and I loved the thrill of the race; until puberty hit.
As an adult running became more my thing. I would use it for my primary form of exercise; it was my stress relief and as a chance to have nothing in my mind other than one foot in front of the other.
It was my release, my happy place, my challenge as it is just you and the road; nobody can stop you but you.
Until I started playing roller derby there was nothing I loved to do more than run, derby was also a stress release but I think that had a little more to do with the fact that it is a full contact sport.
As an adult I had jumped in the pool to cool down and every now and again and to swim laps with some friends, I always found it discouraging though as it was harder than I remembered and there was the added embarrassment of being overweight in bathers.
I also had running and derby to fall back on for my exercise so there was never any reason to swim consistently.
Towards the end of last year I was in a lot of pain with my joints, I was doing no exercise except for the very occasional walk, but even after a short work I was experiencing pain in my feet.
During my diagnosis period my Dr. suggested to me that I try swimming.
I was dreading it to be honest; being in my bathers regularly didn’t appeal to me much.
I started slowly it was just as hard as I remembered but I soon learnt that there is no room for vanity in the pool; you just have to assure yourself that everyone else is in their bathers too and just as vulnerable.
There is nowhere to hide when you are in your bathers; add a swimming cap and a pair of goggles and you are offered a welcome disguise.
My rheumatologist says to me every time I see him “a body in motion stays in motion” this one phrase has been my mantra, that and my swimming partner are the reason I have kept swimming even when I didn’t want to. In the beginning I was missing the competitiveness of roller derby and the community aspect of running; you could find a running event online and train for it and you always had something to spur you on.
Slowly I began to appreciate swimming for the meditation aspect. All you can think about is one, two, three, breathe, one, two, three, breathe. When your head is in the water it is relatively quiet, it forces you to control your breathing.
Swimming wasn’t a competitive activity, I was swimming with a friend and we supported each other and gave each other feedback and encouragement. We struggled with motivation in the beginning and at times had to force each other to go… I was grateful for the support and the accountability of having someone to go with.
We began to set some goals for ourselves based on distance and speed which helped to keep us both on track, I now look forward to swimming and feel a million bucks afterwards. At the moment we are going a couple of times a week. I love having scheduled catch up time with my friend too!
I will probably always miss the thrill of roller derby but for now I am happy that I am a body in motion and who knows I may be running again in the near future.
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