Seeing myself as a polar bear

Two years ago, swim workouts were painful.

Physically my body was just fine but mentally and emotionally, I was a wreck. Swim workouts quickly unraveled in my mind as doubt and fear would stop my stroke before I even completed one length of the pool. A swimmer? I would never be a swimmer. My goal was to survive the swim, to muddle through it.

But the more I survived, the easier it became to change my thinking. I no longer wanted to just get through the swim portion of a triathlon but wanted to swim well. The definition of “swim well” is mine and mine alone with comparisons made to my own swims, not to the times and talents of other swimmers.

While I learned to swim just two years ago, I now see myself as a swimmer.

Author, speaker and wisdom guru Dr. Wayne Dyer has said, “When you change the way you at things the things you look at change.”

How we see is a physical manifestation of our world, but it also has an emotional component. How do we see ourselves? Our friends and families? Our work? Our lives?

Our views, our sight, help us to define ourselves, and so many things in our lives flow from those truths we hold about our own being. The philosophical thoughts about sight and vision were prompted by a talk I gave to the Olcott Lions Club last night and their plans for the 41st Polar Bear Day Swim for Sight in Lake Ontario.

The event draws around 300 people who charge into a cold lake and is the major fundraiser for the Olcott Lions Club, benefitting the organization’s sight programs in the community. Some people just wade into the water. Others go running in and swim a few strokes. Many dress up in costumes. It’s a day-long affair, beginning with tailgating at 10 a.m., the featured swim at 2 p.m., and food vendors, raffles and entertainment in between.

Now in its 41st year, the Polar Bear swim has some participants who are passing down the tradition to their children and grandchildren.

I would never think of participating in a Polar Bear swim. Jump in Lake Ontario in March? That lake can be too cold for swimming in July, let alone March.

And yet, the way I see myself has changed through triathlon and endurance sports. The thought of actually swimming any distance on March 7 is not on my agenda (particularly without my beloved wetsuit) but running in and splashing around to raise money for an area charity? Well, that sounds, crazy enough, like fun.

After all, I see myself as a swimmer, as someone who wants to try new things and as someone who wants to give back to the community.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament may foil my ability to participate in the swim, but I plan to give it a try anyway.

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~ by amymoritz on January 28, 2010.

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