The Zoggs Swim Diaries series aim to celebrate those undertaking a personal challenge or complete something extraordinary. This one is no different, as Jess takes us through her story of how she undertook her first triathlon and came to love swimming. Over to Jess...
Swimming has always been a bit of a no-no for me. I’m pretty sure this is the case for a lot of women who, like me, don’t look like the women you see in swimming costume adverts. The thought of skulking out of the changing room in a skin-tight, small piece of lycra, to stand there with my wobbly bits/stretch marks in all their glory in front of all those people is somewhat daunting. I’ve endured it for the sake of my children but I am pretty sure bobbing about in the balmy, shallow depths of the ‘baby pool’ doesn’t really count as “swimming” and so it has been (rather alarmingly) around 20 years since I officially last swam.
You see, I am a runner. I run under the cloak of darkness. I am an unrecognisable blur to anyone who might know me, and that is just the way I like it.
But then one of my lovely running friends told me about this amazing opportunity through an app called ‘Her Spirit’ who were offering 30 like minded women the chance to partake in their first triathlon. So I decided I had nothing to lose and quite possibly a lot to gain.
Quite incredibly I was offered a place and to say it pushed me out of my comfort zone is somewhat of an understatement.
I joined my local triathlon club and attended coached swimming sessions. I quickly learned that in actual fact no one is looking at each other nor do they care about my wobbly bits/stretch marks.
I trained at my local swimming pool, I kept turning up and pushing myself even when that little voice told me I couldn’t/probably shouldn’t or that that everyone else is better than me.
I found a local sea swimming coach and turned up at the absolute crack of dawn on cold Sunday mornings and threw myself into the sea and found a love of the ocean and thirst for life that I didn’t even know existed in me.
To say that completing the London Triathlon has changed my life, doesn’t quite cover it.
Through Her Spirit, through that support network of inspiring women, I have found a love of swimming that I carry with me every day. I want to do it more and more.
It was my birthday recently and I chose to go and swim in the sea. I have lived by the sea my whole life but it has taken this for me to realise the meditative, restoring effects a swim in the sea has.
For me now, swimming is just as anonymous as running is. The moment I am in that water, I am in my own space on my own terms and I know that when I get out I am going to feel positively super human.
Next year brings new, exciting challenges. 2019 has taught me that anything is possible and I am so ready for the next challenge. I am going to do my first Olympic distance triathlon in Leeds in June. “Do something that scares you” is something that co-founder of Her Spirit Mel Berry tells me, and this certainly does that. But who ever achieved something amazing by staying within their comfort zone?