“You can do this. You can do this. Fuck, it’s cold. I can’t really feel my feet. You can do this. You can do this. Ok. we are going to turn around now and then it’s going to be easier with the current. Jeese…Why does not it get better? Ok. I am just gonna slow down and swim on my back. Just breathe.”
That is approximately what was going in my mind during today’s swim. The weather was beautiful: one of this rare in Stockholm warm days with sunshine and cloudless sky. A perfect day for a long swim in Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen.
Me and Anna got there on our bikes, the race wasn’t big, just around 200 people for both the 3,3 km distance(that we were doing) and the shorter 1,1 km stretch. I was feeling great. Until the moment I got into the water. It. was. cold. It felt like the Atlantic ocean in Cape Town. It kind of tickles your feet and you have an urge to get out (at least I do).
– Why am I doing it?, I asked Anna.
– Because you love swimming
That was true. I do want to get better. I do want to challenge myself. I do want to prove to myself that I can push myself to the limits and beyond. This is why I was doing it.
My heart was still beating like crazy when we started. Not sure if it was because of the cold or the excitement? Probably, both. The track went against the current for the first 800 meters. I felt like I was still keeping up with the rest of the swimmers. But it got harder and harder.
That is when I realised that open water swimming isn’t even so much about the actual swimming. I’ve done this many times in the pool, I swam in the open water. There was something about the Swedish cold, the dark waters and the competition that was getting to me though. Mental toughness. Confidence. That is what open water swimming about first and foremost.
Once I managed to convince myself that I have the ability to finish, I stopped looking to the shore wanting to just get out of the cold water and have a cup of tea. Once I managed to start believing in myself I just caught the rhythm and was focusing only on my breathing, trying to stay on track and….my freezing feet.
Now it was just me and the water. And I was winning over it. I was winning over the cold. Darkness. Distance.
And it is an amazing feeling to win.