It Takes a Village

I wanted to take a moment to talk about all the incredible people that have been essential to the success of my P2P grind. I was inspired to do this post this week because Steve returned to the JCC pool (where I do all my pool training) after his three week trip to France where he completed an amazing crossing of Lake Annecy! He told me and Tracy on Monday morning that we had been a huge help in his preparation for his swim because even after swims/workouts where he felt like he was in a funk or felt discouraged, the support/chit chat/laughter we would share after gave him renewed confidence. I can’t express enough how much I feel the exact same way! All of the success I have had thus far in my training is due so much to the amazing people that I am lucky enough to have in my life. So this post is about celebrating and thanking all those people!

1. The JCC Crew

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First day swimming at Chatfield with Steve and Tracy

Let’s start with the JCC crew! When I came back to Denver at the beginning of the summer I had no idea where I was going to be able to do open water training and had never done an actual “workout” swim in open water. After some googling I found out about Chatfield Reservoir’s Gravel Pond and a place called Grant Ranch. I felt very intimidated at the idea of going alone to do something I had never done before and held off.

One early morning in the middle of one of my pool workouts at the J, I found myself in lane 5 between two swimmers in lane 4 and 6 talking about Chatfield. I asked if they were open water swimmers and if they swam at Chatfield. They were friendly and helpful and invited me to join them sometime in the future to swim open water. From there Steve (lane 6) and Tracy (lane 4) have been incredible friends and mentors to me. Every morning they are the first one’s in the pool in their standard lanes and always welcome me to my workout with smiles and encouragement! They ushered me into my open water season by bringing me to Chatfield and giving me the low down on open water racing in CO. Tracy was with me at Boulder Bare Bones (my first ever open water race), I felt 1000x more comfortable and relaxed with her there. She was reassuring and supportive and made the whole experience positive and so much fun.

I cannot express how instrumental they have been to my success thus far. They are both amazing swimmers and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have met them that morning at the J. They make me look forward to my pool workouts and motivate me to get my butt to the pool early so that I won’t miss them! Most swimmers will tell you that having a team around to motivate you through pool workouts is essential. With Steve and Tracy flanking me in Lanes 4 and 6, I have a team around me that pushes me to be my best in the pool and in open water.

Beyond Tracy and Steve there are other great “regulars” at the J that always bring a smile to my face (Roy and Richard especially!). Not to mention the great guards and pool managers that make me feel at home in the pool.

2. The Wild Bunch

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Training trip from my sophomore year

Speaking of the importance of teams!!!!! I have to give a huge shoutout to the Wild Bunch family, my Smith College Swim Team. The Smith team has made me the swimmer that I am today. Without the support and encouragement of Coach Kim, all of our assistant coaches, the distance crew morning practicers (Emily, Claire, Ayla, Desi), swim wife (shoutout to Abby Onos<3), the amazing preceding captains (especially those from my first year~Olivia, Hayley), and really every single member of the team that I have had the pleasure of swimming with—I never would have been able to start this journey to swim the P2P without you guys!

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Left: Me & swim-wife Abby @post-season pool party, Right: cuddling/being in love @seven sister’s swim meet Jan2016

3. The Marathon Swimming Fempire

Two people that I do not know what I would do without are Paige and Abby. Marathon swimming is unlike anything I have done before. It is truly its own universe with its own lingo, tricks, and procedures. Paige and Abby have helped me navigate this universe and I am so grateful!! Their support and camaraderie when it comes to the challenges of training means so much since they are in the marathon swimming grind too. Recently Paige compiled a magnificent six-page word document with tips, instructions, and insights for me and my entire support crew to help ease planning for my P2P swim. She has been an incredible mentor and Abby has been an amazing training partner! Paige successfully completed the 8 Bridges Swim and Abby’s Catalina crossing is in less than 10 days now (which I know will be successful)!! I will be the last to swim for the summer and just hope I can do the marathon swimming fempire proud!

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Last Smith pool practice together before leaving for the summer

4. My Non-Swimming Friends

I also want to thank my non-swimming friends who have showered me with their support. The encouragement and love that has come from these friends has given me extra motivation and drive because I know that people from all corners of my life are cheering me on! Cheyenne gave me a shark tooth necklace at the beginning of the summer to help me “feel fearless” and as a way to transfer nervous/anxious feelings into powerful, positive energy. I feel lucky to have so many great people like Chey supporting this swim.

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Cheyenne being the greatest cheerleader ever at our last Smith meet of the 2016 season

5. My Family & My Partner

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My awesome brother/kayaker

Last but certainly not least, I want to thank my family and my partner. My family has seen me take on many challenges and grand adventures throughout my life and has constantly supported me through the highs and lows. This past weekend everyone showed up to watch me compete for close to 3 hours at the Wellington Lake 10K. Hearing them cheer as I completed each lap (2.5K loop) put a smile on my face and kept me going the whole race and my mama was on the beach ready with a towel and a hug as I ran/waded out of the water at the finish. I wouldn’t be able to do this swim without their support (emotional, logistical, financial, etc) and am beyond grateful for all of them. My actual P2P swim is going to really be a “family affair” since my step-dad, Andy, will be serving as my crew captain and my brother, Anthony, will be no more than 15 feet away from me at all times in a kayak. My mom and dad, among many others, will be on the beach in Provincetown waiting for me to emerge at the end.

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Towels, hugs, and kisses, oh my!

Finally to my partner, who is also my best friend and greatest cheerleader: thank you for believing in me at times when I have not believed in myself and for your unconditional love and support through this crazy summer. I couldn’t do it without you.

Even though my crossing is called a “solo swim” this label is obviously misleading. The support, love, mentorship, etc of all the great people listed above is what has made this swim possible for me. It really does take a village and I am just grateful to be part of a village with so many amazing human beings.

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