Just Keep Swimming

“When life gets you down you know what you gotta do?…Just keep swimming." -Dory

The saying was made famous by the billion dollar 2003 blockbuster film Finding Nemo. If you never saw it, I’m really worried about you (but you can watch it online here). Ironically enough, tomorrow marks the official release of the much anticipated sequel entitled Finding Dory.

Dory, a bright, effervescent Blue Tang fish provides the comic relief in the first film as well as by coining the aforementioned catchphrase set to an annoyingly infectious little tune. She encourages Nemo’s dad at the beginning of their search to find his son saying, “When life gets you down you know what you gotta do?…Just keep swimming. Just swimming. Just keep swimming swimming swimming…” The irony is that she keeps swimming not simply because of her positive outlook, but because she’s terribly forgetful. She doesn't know where she's going. Word on the street about the new movie is that her memory loss is tied to the trauma stemming from being separated from her parents and her subsequent fruitless search to find them. Nevertheless, as is proved in Finding Nemo, she has managed to keep moving even though she’s not sure where she’s going or if she’ll ever reach her goal.

I recently started swimming myself. You see, Ive had this goal for quite some time to complete a full Ironman triathlon. I started running long distance in high school, and over the past five years I've run two marathons. One in 2011 and another in 2014. I started cycling regularly when I was in undergrad. I used to ride my bike on campus at the time and I was approached by one of the deans who wanted to start a cycling club. I’ve pretty much been riding ever since (kinda). So I’m practically two-thirds triathlete. The only problem is I don’t know how how to swim. Well, I know how to swim…to like, not drown, but not 2.1 miles Ironman triathlon swim. Well at least not until this year.

So this year I got myself a gym membership at my neighborhood YMCA where they have a nice-sized indoor pool with several lanes. As I registered they asked me about my goals. When I told them about the Ironman, they immediately referred me to the master swim class at 6 am on Tuesday and Thursday. I was as scared as can be. Maybe it has something to do with how my eldest brother drowned when I was a kid. Maybe it has to do with normal anxiety of trying something new. I don’t know. All I know is, the pool scares me. At the very least, it humbles me. I’m pretty smooth on the basketball court (or at least I used to be). I can pretend to be impressive with my running shoes on. But in the water…I AM NOTHING! 

It only took a few seconds to confirm all my fears walking into the pool. Everyone in the building is a seasoned triathlete!!! Ok, maybe not everyone, but pretty much all of them are. And even those who are fairly new to swimming are serious athletes. These folks a strong, fast, fierce competitors. Can you see me? There I am the lone little sheep, and this is the wolfpack. Sometime I stand back and watch them in amazement. These guys are serious swimmers. Fact is, they inspire me. I study their stroke, their breathing techniques and marvel at their speed. When I grow up, I’m gonna swim like them.

And then there’s the coach. Matt is da man! Period. Homie’s a full-time triathlete and triathlon coach. And from day one he’s been my personal Mr. Miyagi. I’m Daniel. He’s Mr. Han, I’m Dre Parker. And the story is the same. Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off. Can you hear me protesting, “Wait, did you just say you want me to put my face in the water? Naw, I’ll pass. Excuse me, did I hear you say you want me to exhale underwater? Naw, I’m good.” It’s awkward, uncomfortable, often ridiculous and downright painful, but boy does it pay off. I’ve been swimming now since about February, and you probably won’t believe it, but the guy who went to that pool a few months ago doesn’t exist anymore. I’m like Dory now. I’m a fish! Now let me be clear. I’m A LOT like Dory, in the sense that half the time I’m in the pool I still don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going, or if I’ll ever be able to reach my goal. But guess what, I’ve learned to “just keep swimming.”

I think I’m gonna write more real soon about the lessons I’ve learned in the pool. But I suppose the first lesson is just that: Just keep swimming! You may not know how it’s gonna turn out. You may make a lot of mistakes. You may fall down seven times. You may swallow a little water. You may feel like giving up. But JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!! And here’s why. You’ll be amazed at the ground you’ll cover if you just keep swimming. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. You’ll be amazed at how much strength and resolve you’ve been given by our Heavenly Coach that you’ve never had to use before. Trust me on this. Just…keep…swimming. By the way, I sat down and calculated how much swimming I did in this morning’s workout…1.21 miles (that’s down and back 39 times). 

Trust me…Just keep swimming.