This March I'll be swimming "Laps for Life" to learn more or donate hit this button here.
Other than the odd pair of goggles and my uncanny ability to float. There is not a great deal of evidence of the fact that once upon a time I was a swimmer.
(and a style icon... see below 👇... But that isn't what it this is all about)
It's true. Once upon a time, I was a swimmer. With big dreams and slightly less talent than what was required to achieve those dreams. But I loved it anyway.
I swam, 5 mornings a week at 5:00am from the age of 11 until I was about 23. 2 hours a day. Roughly 6km a session. and yes, as I mentioned above, I did really love it.
I had a relatively chilled teenage life, a drama-free scoot through high school and a calm execution of my HSC. I was dedicated and disciplined. I think that was partly because I thought maybe just maybe I could make it, but more so because my best friends were all at training every day. The process brought me so much joy. I knew that I could put those goggles on and I could execute the task at hand.
People often ask, were you any good? You know, after all those hours, kilometres and early mornings, you'd hope that you got some results. And the truth of it was, I was ok. Never great. I would make a state final from time to time and if I had my best day I'd be in the mix for a medal. I made a few Australian finals over the years and that for me was a VERY good result. I was never going to be a world-beater. I believed I could be. I worked hard. But the fact of the matter was, I wasn't.
So, were all of the hours, kilometres and early mornings worth it?
100% worth it!
I'd do it again in a heart beat.
My mental health as a young person was as good as it gets. And that is no humble brag. It was a fact and I think it had a lot to do with having my head in the pool for two hours a day. When you are swimming there literally is not one other thing you can be doing. Just "you and the black line" as they say.
Now I look back, and it was probably a mediation of sorts. My mind would wander for the first 30 minutes, focus for the middle 60 and be happy for the final 30 minutes with a little bit of social kick** with my friends.
**Swim coaches HATE social kick btw 😂 ).
It was a safe place. Full of familiarity and feelings of achievement, community and pride.
I am very aware that positive mental health isn't a given for all young people. And this truly breaks my heart.
This is why, this March, I will be joining "Laps for Life" to raise funds and awareness for Reach Out Australia. Reach Out is a wonderful organisation with the sole purpose of helping young people "be well and stay well".
I have joined "Jess's Squad" (more about that in a moment) and I have pledged to swim 20km this month in an effort to raise $500.
So who is Jess and why have I decided to put the googles back on as a part of her team?
Where to start... I am just not sure.
Jess was a few years younger than me. She and I swam in the same pool with the same coaches only a few years apart.
We had a similar pathway. I remember Jess as a bubbly smiley young coach to younger athletes at Avoca SLSC. She was a wonderful swimmer. So bright and happy.
Later in life, Jess battled with BPD ( Borderline Personality Disorder), disordered eating, bouts of depression and addiction. Sadly, 3 years ago, Jess tragically passed away in an accident leaving behind her young daughter, loving parents and brother along with many friends who miss her dearly.
Still to this day, there is a huge picture of a young Jess, in other Kincumer Pacific Dolphins Cap and goggles on the wall at 5 Star Swim Schools, looking over that lanes. Kind of like she is still keeping a watchful eye over the young athletes (just as she did so well all those years ago). I take my girls to this pool every week and see her smile, the way I remember her, young vivacious and full of life.
I think she is happy there. In that place where she felt safe, with feelings of familiarity, achievement, community and pride.
I'll be swimming at Kincumber, under her watchful eye.
Will I make the full 20km? Gosh I hope so!
These arms aren't what they used to be. But if there ever was a reason to spin them again, this is it!
If you'd like to help me on my little challenge you can follow the link below to Laps For Life ❤️