Kingdom Swim 2012

At the beginning of Kingdom Swim 2012, I thought to myself, here is my chance to make the greatest single improvement in my entire life. Where most people improve, year to year, by a matter of minutes… I knew my time would be less by – at the very, very least – an hour.  Secretly, I was determined to make 6 hours, which would be better by an hour and 43 minutes. I had reasonable confidence that I could do it. And I determined to myself that that was what I would try. But I told everybody 6 1/2, because it was safer.

It’s so happy, standing on the beach, watching people come and go and getting ready. Aaron, my brother and stalwart kayaker for this excursion, and I were in rare form, laughing and joking. Plucky, the faithful kayak, was ready, too. I could feel his excitement and anticipation growing.

In the back of my mind, there was one hesitation. Aaron. He was not an experienced kayaker. And didn’t know a thing about open water swimming or swimmers. And I had reasoned to myself that he would be okay. He would be fine. But the truth of the matter was, I had slapped him into this situation like I would use duct tape on a gaping, bleeding slash across my arm. It was not a good fit. He was not prepared for this and had little idea of how to execute it well – even with a swim we had done together earlier in the week. He was armed with little more than love for me, his sister. That’s okay, true love conquers all, right?

Don’t be a freaking moron, Bethany. Read more

Torture Swim

There are these little purple flowers in Ireland.  They grow in the strangest, most obnoxious places – like out of stone walls.  It’s really very pretty and kind of cool.  As I was walking by them, I stopped for a second.  There was no vine attached.  They didn’t climb up or spill over… they were just there.  There.  Somehow.  Bobbing gently in the breeze as if to giggle at your wondering at them.

When I marveled at these beautiful, strong, but also delicate and fragile flowers – I saw myself in the sea.  I sometimes am not sure how I got here, and how I am so strong as to take root and to blossom.  It puzzles me to ponder it.  How did I so little know myself that I did not know that I can do all this?

Off we went into the water.  Toward the unknown.  Bravely.  Swimming and swimming and swimming.  The people on the boat yelled directions.  I couldn’t hear them.  They pointed one way, then another.  I swam one way, then another.  Then around the boat.  Then they pointed in a direction and I went that way.  They yelled some more.  I couldn’t hear them.  We were past Sandy Cove.  Past safety.  Out to sea in the swell and chop.  I was definitely confused.  I picked a point and headed toward it.  I couldn’t see any other swimmers.  I couldn’t see anything but the sea and the cliff I was swimming toward.

Then the boat sped away. Read more