Crossroads

I know it shouldn’t bother me and I can’t help it. My dad always said I was too sensitive. It’s who I am though.

Today my Masters coach sent out his “weekend warriors” email of recognizing and celebrating those who went above and beyond just Masters pool practices to other events, usually open water, that he wanted to acknowledge. I sent him ALL of mine and the only one he’s ever mentioned in his email was the one that I never told him about, my Semana Nautica 6-mile. He failed to ever mention my 500+ miles “Go The Distance” annual distance for 2013, winning my age group for non-wetsuit for the Golden Gate Sharkfest 2014, my participation in the Lady Liberty Sharkfest 2014, my completion of the 2.7 Donner Lake crossing (hosted by Davis Masters) in August 2014, and most recently (and biggest for me), my 12.2 miles Anacapa to Oxnard crossing.

This last grave omission had a huge affect on me. I was heartbroken.

I thought before that he would only mention perhaps USMS-sanctioned events. He’s mentioned other people’s completions of ironmans, Catalina, Swim Across America, and other non-USMS non-marathon swimming events (minus the one Catalina crossing) so I knew that wasn’t it. I felt completely left out and insignificant. I even emailed him after and he had sent out another email yet minutes later yet not a single mention of my Anacapa swim.

He always congratulated me in response to my emails about my swims. Just over a month since my Anacapa swim though and he seemed to congratulate everyone else on the planet including a Catalina crossing and several smaller ones and I felt left out. Again. WTF DUDE? I emailed him saying that I know that I’m never going to win a race and I’ll never do an ironman but goddamnit, please make me feel like a goddamn part of this team (in much nicer words). Yes, I’m a slow swimmer by many means. If any Masters meet should show though, not a heck of a lot of people want to do the 1500 meters, let alone if they had anything longer than that in a meet. 28 heats of the 50 meter free though. I’ve done two pool races in my adult life: 400 meter free and 800 meter free. I hated the 400 meter free…not long enough. Yes in April I was able to sustain a relatively slow 1:40 / 100 yard pace for an entire 1.5 hours of Masters practice.

Open water or otherwise I can sustain the same pace for 8+ hours. I know most swimmers can’t swim anything close to that long no matter what their pace is.

I guess I want to be at least given some credit to what my strength is: long distance endurance. I’m not just the slow person in Lane 2 at practice. I’m sure there are those who think that I’m not a serious swimmer and/or that I’m pretty weak at this sport. I know many swimmers who are faster than me who can’t swim past 90 minutes of practice and refuse to swim open water. One of my pod members said once about how she was amazed that people like me can just jump straight into the ocean without being able to see through the water clearly (she used to swim in Hawaii) yet the thought of not really having huge viz in the water wasn’t ever a concern of mine.

So yeah, the turtle in Lane 2 already committed herself to 4 marathon swims next year which the shortest is 8 miles. In the Great Salt Lake of all places. The other 3 are between 10 – 21 miles with another 11 miles one if it first into my schedule.

There’s a part of me that knows that I do something that few other people can do and wants others to know that’s my strength. Most people on my Masters team don’t know who I am. Most people in my open water club in SF don’t know who I am (that I know of) since I’m not around enough and when I am there, I generally keep to myself and my friends that I already know.

I actually got a Facebook message from someone there the other day asking if I really did swim Anacapa (for the club newsletter) which I don’t even know how she found out. Before, during, and after my swim there wasn’t a single post about it on either their google groups of their Facebook page. I felt anonymous. I actually wore the club’s cap during my swim as I’m a proud member yet still very under the radar. And yet I feel a bit odd that I’m being acknowledged in a club newsletter for a club that I joined relatively recently by people I don’t really know in person yet failed to be recognized in front of my Masters team by a coach who I’ve worked with longer and felt closer to.

Why is it even important? It shouldn’t be, I know. One of the greatest feelings I had after Anacapa was getting home and reading an email from my pod member Howard congratulating me on my swim as he’d heard that I made it. I started crying in a good way then. I was home alone and had no one to share it with though. Howard’s like one of the figureheads for Dawn Patrol so to me it was like having all of them congratulating me and it came from his heart. Dawn Patrol is small enough that everyone knew I’d made it.

My Masters team? Different. I don’t think most people there know who I am. Or care.

So what about when I complete the Great Salt Lake (8 miles), Catalina (21 miles), Tahoe Width (10 miles), Three Rivers (30 KM), Straits of Gibraltar (10 – 14 miles depending on current), and English Channel (34 miles)? Will my Masters coach/team overlook those also? Could I seriously one day be one of the slowest swimmers on the team who has completed 3 of the Oceans Seven and yet most people on the team think that I was a weak swimmer because of my speed? Or perhaps worse, just not a serious swimmer at all and just doing this for exercise?

This isn’t just exercise for me. Look at what’s happened to me in 2014 alone. I almost died in La Jolla Cove in February. I became a marathon swimmer in August. I completed my first Santa Barbara Channel crossing in September. I drove 60 miles one way up to 5 times a week to jump in the Pacific at 5:30 AM. Fuck if it was just exercise I’d have gone the 2 miles down the street to the pool and saved about $400/month in gas and countless hours of driving time. And there’s no threat of being drowned by 6-foot waves in a pool. Or sharks. I put a lot of hard work into this and it’s not just for trying to fit into a pair of jeans. That’s not why my workout schedule has up to 11 sessions a week of swimming / spinning / Pilates / strength/weight training.  I’ve given up a normal social life for what I’d rather be spending my days doing that starts at 4:30 AM every day.

And most people can’t say that they literally swam with a pod of 50 dolphins for 2 hours with them right up next to you so close they were bumping your arm and you could see their skin clearly in front of your face in the middle of the night.

Then there’s the crazy idea of starting a 10.5 hours swim at 2 AM on an hour of sleep.

I haven’t started paying dues yet with the team again although have rejoined the club that they practice at. I’m trying to figure out after this if I really want to rejoin this team or not. I just..I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I really am one of them. I’d like to feel like I’m a part of something again though.

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One Response to Crossroads

  1. Alison says:

    Sorry that all happened to you Kelly. Your accomplishments deserve recognition.
    – Alison S (South End)

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