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Facing Your Fears - Geek Turned Athlete

Facing Your Fears

I have a very inspirational story to tell that I was witness to at the pool this weekend, but first I must tell what happened before that whole incident took place that exemplifies what a stubborn beeotch I am. hehe


You want to mess with me? I’m moving in to another country in less than 2 weeks. Make my day!

After my horrendous workout on Saturday (45 min swim, 32 mile bike, 8 mile run), I just wanted to get my swim workout/aquajogging session done on Sunday, grocery shop, go home and take a nap. I arrived at the pool and soon found an empty lane. Keep in mind that this pool is on a military base with a lot of testosterone driven males. I’m perfectly fine with this until they start thinking they can push me around. I. Don’t. Think. So. Especially when I’m tired, stressed, and already bitchy (as you can tell in the photo that was taken before I even entered the pool).

So anyway, I jumped into this empty lane, put my swim cap and goggles on and proceed to do one lap. I stopped to adjust my goggles since water was leaking into them, and I noticed a male getting into my lane on the other end of the pool. This was fine with me because the other lanes had at least one other person in them, and plus, I don’t mind sharing a lane if the other lanes are full. Keywords here: IF the other lanes are full. I pointed to the side of the pool that I was going to swim on, and gestured to the side that he should stay on. He nodded his head in agreement.

I start swimming again, and noticed this male doing one lap, then stopping and hanging out a bit (and staring at me). Then, he would start again. No biggie, I just kept swimming. Then, one of his buddies jumped in the lane with him. In between my sets, I asked the guy in the lane next to me if they were here before me. He said no they weren’t, and offered to share his lane with me. I looked over at the lane on the other side of me, and it was empty. I guess the person that was there before had left. I had 3 choices. I could move all my gear/ towel over to the empty lane next to me, move all my gear/towel and share with the nice guy on the other side of me, or I could stay in “my” lane, and fight this thing out. Can you guess which option I chose?

I refuse to be bullied out of this lane. The stare-down began. I stayed on my side of the pool, and refused to move over to the empty lane. I was there first. The guys shared half the lane, and I took up the other half of the lane. Of course, they weren’t swimming as much as I was, but still. After 10 minutes of them staring at me swimming, they finally moved over to the empty lane. WTF? They knew I knew what they wanted, and I didn’t budge.

I talked to my husband later about it, asked him what he would have done in the situation and if I was just being really immature. He said that they probably wouldn’t have gotten in his lane in the first place. They chose the only female in the pool at the time thinking that I would cut my workout short or move over but I didn’t. It’s the small victories, right? hehe

Finally it was time for my friend, Marisa, to show up for an aquajogging lesson after I got my feisty workout in. She had FB’ed me earlier in the week asking if I could teach her how to aquajog since she had injured herself and couldn’t run. I said of course, and had no clue about her fear of getting into the pool. I discovered this when she was visibly shaking before she even dipped a toe into the water. I helped her with her aquabelt.

We took our time getting into the water. At one point I did have to play “mean mommy” when she asked if she could get in on the shallow side, and I said no. It took her a while, but she got in. Shaking and all. Her eyes started to get bloodshot, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to start crying (or it could have been allergies), but regardless, I didn’t want to bring the crying thing up. Girls tend to start crying when they are on the verge of crying when someone asks them about it. It opens the flood gates. At least it does for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I tried to be as encouraging as I could possibly be:

Don’t worry, I used to lifeguard. Haha. I know, totally lame, but I did.

I am right here. If you freak out, just grab onto me. (and she did a few times which was okay)

You are doing great. Look how the aquabelt keeps you afloat!

Look at you! You will be swimming in a triathlon next!

Slowly, but surely we made our way to the other side of the pool, then back again. And again and again. I tried to change the subject of the pool to something else during these laps. It worked. Pretty soon, 30 minutes passed. When we were done, I told her she deserved some ice cream or some wine after that! She accomplished a lot that day.


Here is an email that she sent me yesterday. I asked her to write down where her fear of water stemmed from for the bloggy.

Nicole! Thank you so much for helping me out Sunday. I left feeling proud of myself (even though I didn’t go under water) I felt like I’ve conquered half of my phobia. I LOVE aqua running! I can’t stop talking about it and found a few girls who seem to be interested in coming out with me. I’m so excited I think this is going to be a Sunday thing for me until we PCS.

Here is my story

I was about 12 or 13 when I took my first swimming lesson, I knew the basics of swimming but never put my face under water while swimming. I decided I would go take lessons at the local YMCA. At about the middle of the class the instructor started making us go under water and wanted us to stay under for no less than a minute. I of course could only stay underwater for a few seconds at a time. The instructor was not having it and told me that if I wanted to stay in his class then I had to do it or I could leave and not come back…so I did what any terrified kid would do and got out of the pool and never went back.

About 8 years later I got into wake boarding- as long as I was wearing a life vest, life was great. In 2003 I was wake boarding in a lake, I had just finished my run and my friend had just finished strapping on the board and as she jumped in the water we spotted a boat coming our way. We made every attempt to get the driver’s attention but, failed. The boat was headed right towards my friend in the water. After moving our boat in its path, the 30 ft boat collided into our 21 ft boat. It threw most of the passengers off the boat including myself (who was not wearing a life vest) and left my friend in the boat unconscious for a brief time. I’m sure I was only under water for a few seconds but it felt like an eternity. The entire time I panicked and surfaced to the top while having an anxiety attack, which I almost made myself drown. Ever since this date I can not get into anything deep where I can’t feel the floor.

Again thanks so much for all your help! You are an Angel!”

Marisa, you were so brave on Sunday, and I’m so proud of you!!! I would have been scared too if I had gone through that! You grabbed your fear by the neck, and you kicked it’s a$$!

I’ve always said that whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, and this was Marisa’s opportunity to prove that to herself on Sunday. ย It also helped with my mood. ย Helping people makes you happy, I guess. ย ๐Ÿ™‚

What have you done to overcome one of your fears lately?

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Erica June 15, 2010, 3:15 pm

    When you get back to the states, we must find a way to meet- you just are so rocking. Way to fight it out! I would have totally stayed too. Why are guys such jerks sometimes. Great job helping your friend. That is awesome. True friends help you overcome your fears. Enjoy the rest of your week

  • Vanessa June 15, 2010, 3:15 pm

    Awesome post! Can’t believe those bastards at the pool. You did the right thing.

  • Kim June 15, 2010, 3:39 pm

    I love that! Great job standing up for yourself!

  • Nichole June 15, 2010, 5:00 pm

    This post screams I AM WOMAN! Men in pools are generally annoying, no offense. I mean how hot can we be with tight caps and goggles. I am so proud of you for swimming, er standing, your ground. I probably would have wimped out and moved lanes, good for you!

    And look at your teaching the swim ropes!! Really encouraging words to us all.

  • Heather (Where's the Beach) June 15, 2010, 5:03 pm

    What a great story. She was so lucky to have you there. Now, as for those men, good for you for standing up for yourself!!!

  • Kacy June 15, 2010, 5:17 pm

    Wow! What an inspiring post! You inspire me to be more of a maneater (kidding!) and she inspires me to get over my fears. Perfect! You both rock!

  • Katy June 15, 2010, 5:45 pm

    Go Marisa! What a hurdle to overcome! You are an amazing friend.

  • Marisa June 15, 2010, 6:21 pm

    At one point crying might have passed my mind because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get into the pool on the deeper end…ha ha. I’m glad you didn’t budge though! After the 3rd lap I really didn’t want to go on the shallow side any more. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! You are the best!

  • healthy ashley June 15, 2010, 7:58 pm

    How do you look so good in a swim cap!?

  • Annie D. @ Annie's Simple Life June 15, 2010, 8:37 pm

    LOVE IT. I need courage like that too!!!

  • Julie @ Pickley Pear June 15, 2010, 10:38 pm

    I love that you stood your ground and stayed in your lane. Dumb guys. I probably would have been that girl to move over or get out. I don’t know pool etiquette and just hope and pray there is an empty lane.
    Way to go Marisa! Some people have a fear of water and can only go at their own pace. I give her lots of credit! I’ve hear aquajogging is real fun!

  • Faith June 15, 2010, 11:00 pm

    I’m glad you stood your ground (or lane ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) at the pool! What an inspiring story…congrats to Marisa for conquering her fear!

  • Alanna @ Blood, Sweat, and Cupcakes June 16, 2010, 2:40 am

    You’re awesome! way to stand up for yourself at the pool! and what a great feeling it must be to help someone through one of their biggest fears, both your friend and you should feel proud!

  • Claire June 16, 2010, 9:29 am

    How inspiring lady! You definitely deserved to have that lane with the other open ones and I don’t know if I could have fought it out like you! Amazing…

    Also, that is so wonderful that you helped your friend with her fear. Aqua jogging is a great way to get in some cardio that is low impact and expose people to the water if they aren’t swimmers!

  • Whit June 16, 2010, 1:46 pm

    How amazing. Your friend is such an inspiration. The way she faced her fear…no words.

  • Tiffany June 17, 2010, 12:25 am

    That poor thing. ๐Ÿ™ I love swimming so much, it is taking everything in me to attempt to understand her anxiety and (very understandable) fear of the water. It definitely feels great to help a friend get through something like that…as well as having a friend to help you through it.

  • Sand Sock Girl June 18, 2010, 2:09 pm

    Wow I super love your story! You served as an inspiration to many including me. You are heavent-sent! Mwah ๐Ÿ™‚


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