Slow athletes have some amazing stories – there’s a lot of inspiration to be found at the back of the pack. Slow athletes deserve to have places to tell our stories, and to have (and be!) role models. The Celebrating Slow Series is a place to do just that. If you have a story that you would like featured here, e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.
Today Stefanie shares her story of triumph in open water swimming:
Swimming has always come naturally to me. In no other sport was I ever able to build up the stamina that I apparently inherently possess for swimming. I have always swum somewhat regularly, but never competed, always thinking I was probably too slow.
I don’t remember what brought it on, but I signed up for my first open water swim of 1500m in January 2014, which gave me 6 months to prepare. The cut-off time of one hour seemed manageable – when I first timed my swims I was already quite comfortably below, although not by much. I never trained for speed though. I did get a little bit faster, but not considerably so. I eventually finished my first event in 47 minutes. As I was swimming I thought I’d missed the cut-off as everyone else seemed to be so far ahead of me. Turns out I didn’t miss it and nor did I come last (okay, I came second last!). I had thoroughly enjoyed my first swimming event and immediately looked for my next challenge.
The next summer I took part in a 2.5km lake swim. Once again, I was at the very back from the start. I eventually overtook two swimmers near the end. I swim a consistent speed throughout. I never rush myself. I’m in it for the distance and nothing but. I can tell that when I do overtake people, it’s people who are merely struggling on the day, people who have not paced themselves properly. I know they would be faster than me on any other given opportunity. I, meanwhile, am always slow.
I have now taken on my biggest challenge to date, having signed up for a 10km river swim in June next year. I had heard great feedback about this particular swim, the Jubilee River Swim, from other swimmers, especially in relation to their inclusive attitude towards slow swimmers. I emailed the organisers to confirm whether they would let me finish if I didn’t make the cut-off time of 4.5 hours and received a very friendly and assuring response stating that I should not worry about the cut-off time. As long as I was making steady progress, they would absolutely let me finish. I have been building up my distances ever since. I expect to finish in around 5 hours. I suspect I will not get any faster over the next few months and I am more than at peace with that.
If you can’t get enough of the awesome inspiration from slow athletes, check out the other entries in the series:
Have your own story to tell? I would love to feature it here. E-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org