Monday, August 27, 2007

Overcoming Lake Monsters for the Triathlon

On Friday evening I went swimming in a nearby lake. There are several lakes in the Nashville area, believe it or not. Radnor, Percy Priest, Old Hickory. I figure since I'm about to do a triathlon that has an open water swim, I ought to practice swimming in a real lake. I've played in the water at Lake Powell, Pine View, and Bear Lake in Utah, but have never really gone swimming. And by swimming, I mean, really actually gone a fair distance with the intent to swim. Horsing around in the water is altogether different, and I did that a lot this weekend too, with Stoker, in the pool.

In all honesty I'm afraid of lakes. Lake monsters, to be precise. A lake monster is anything swimming below me or near me that I can't see. I think the fear stems from my first experience swimming in the ocean, which happened when I was in seventh grade during a family trip to California. We stayed in Oceanside because it was between L.A. and San Diego. This stretch of ocean was rich in kelp and seaweed and when I was in the water, it would sneak up on me and touch me on the leg or the back. It scared the hell out of me. At that time I grew to hate kelp and seaweed, and also the unfriendly Oceanside beach. It was unfriendly because of all the kelp and seaweed strewn across the beach, like monsters basking in the sun.

My distrust of lakes is only strengthened by the murkiness of the water. I'm sure if I were in Hawaii where the water is very clear, I'd have no problem. It's the unknown I can't stand. I don't have many phobias, none to be exact, oh, except the one: bathopobia. Yes, this is a bona fide phobia, an abnormal fear of depths. This I cite when asked by certain individuals why I won't go on a cruise with them. After reading Life of Pi, my resolve against cruising only grew.

Friday evening I swam in a small cove with a few other people. The water was a perfect temperature and though I was a bit freaked out by the murky water and the unknown sea monsters lurking beneath me, I overcame. With my face underwater, all I could see was the suspended sediment and my eyes reflecting back at me in the plastic goggles (a little freaky in its own way).

Luckily, I had replaced my crap goggles with Speedo Vanquishers and they didn't leak or crush my eye sockets with their intense suction (like the Leders I bought at Wal-Mart). Had any frightening creatures lurched at me from the water, I might have seen them coming. Honestly, I amazed myself with my mental ability to quell my own fears. There was only one moment when another swimmer was talking about a skeletal hand reaching out for him, where I nearly left the water and walked the circumference of the lake to reach my stuff, just to avoid the skeletal hand.

I plan to go a few more times before the triathlon, to get the feel of not having a wall to grab onto when I get tired.

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