keeping passion alive

I’ve always lived my life according to the motto, “Do things with passion or don’t do them at all.” I never just like something, I have to let it consume me. I’ve always approached every aspect of my life – from school, to my relationships, to work, to my hobbies, and especially to swimming – with an incredible amount of passion, drive, and enthusiasm. Sometimes to the point where it might not be healthy anymore. I have worked on finding balance and not living so much in the extremes, where everything is black and white and I either pour my entire heart and soul into something or give up completely. But then again, marathon swimming is a sport that requires obsession. Without being 110% obsessed with this sport, without eating and breathing swimming, without structuring your entire life around your swimming goals, you don’t have a chance in hell at successfully completing a channel swim.

And then again… my relationship with this sport has undergone many fluctuations over the past few years as I’ve navigated this shoulder injury. While my years spent building up to longer swims and then eventually training for Anacapa were full of an immense amount of passion and drive, getting injured shifted things for me. Initially I was in denial, wanting to train for my next swim so badly that I was willing to push through any level of pain. There was a fire burning inside of me that refused to be put out by the limitations my body put on me. Then, I realized that I couldn’t push through the pain any longer or I was going to cause permanent damage (and possibly risk never swimming again). What was once enthusiasm and drive and excitement turned into red-hot rage. And grief.

Eventually, I came to accept the fact that this journey was going to take longer than I had expected. This realization put me in a very difficult place with my mental health. At some point when I was in this place, I realized that even if my shoulder pain did go away, I didn’t want to swim again. I always described depression to my therapist as “my fire being put out” – in other words, my enthusiasm and inspiration and passion for life had been taken from me, leaving me numb and lifeless. This was my first time not being 110% obsessed with swimming in years; and not only was I not obsessed anymore – I didn’t even care about it at all. And that was fucking terrifying to me. I was so, so scared that I would never get my inner fire back.

I’ve gone through many ups and downs over the past few years, and these highs and lows have completely consumed my relationship with swimming. And the lows are always so, so scary – not only because of the way they affect my mood and my mental health, but also because I don’t want to swim when I’m in this place. I might feel a burning hatred towards swimming and everything it has put me through, or worse – I might feel completely indifferent towards it.

As a result of these experiences, I have done a lot of reflecting on what it means to keep passion and hope alive when navigating an injury. These are a few of the coping mechanisms that have helped me:

  1. Find another outlet to pour my passion and energy into. This was one of the most common things people told me when I first started struggling with my shoulder, and let me tell you – it fucking pissed me off. In my mind, there was never going to be anything I would ever be as passionate about as marathon swimming, so why bother? But finding other outlets to pour my energy into – like hiking, and running, and writing, and strengthening my relationships, and focusing on my mental health – helped me immensely. I am someone who has a huge amount of drive and energy and if I don’t find ways to consistently and constructively use this energy, I will go a little crazy.
  2. Focus on finding balance. Extreme athletes have the tendency to see everything as black-and-white, so this can be a tricky one. But trying to make my life more well-rounded as far as my relationships, my school, my health, my work, etc. has been immensely rewarding, especially considering the way it’s so easy to neglect aspects of your life when you are so busy training for a big swim.
  3. This one is cliche, but – try to focus more on the journey rather than the destination. Remind myself that healing and recovery is not only an essential part of my training plan, but probably the most important part. Doing PT every day, going to doctor’s appointments, and having to hold back from pushing myself harder athletically can be incredibly frustrating, but it helps to think of it as part of my training. And I try to remind myself that my most fulfilling moments throughout my swimming journey have all been during my training swims, not during my actual swim attempts or stumbling up on shore after completing a swim.
  4. Focus on finding joy and meaning in the little things. Going for my first swim in months post-surgery, being able to lift my arm above my head without pain for the first time in years, jumping in the ocean and splashing around, going for short swims and watching the sun rise above the horizon – these are the things that bring me the most joy if I really let myself soak them up rather than dwelling on everything I’ve lost. When I’m in peak training mode, it’s easy to become so focused on swimming longer and harder and faster that I forget to watch schools of fish swimming below me, or to appreciate what my body is doing for me, or to stop for a minute and float on my back and recognize how lucky I am to have found this sport and live in such a beautiful place.
  5. Connect with others who have gone through the same thing. Being an injured athlete is incredibly difficult to deal with (physically and emotionally) and it can often feel very isolating. It has helped me immensely to connect with others who have also faced similar injuries and had their sport taken away from them and see how they’ve coped with this challenge. There’s also numerous podcasts, books, and articles about this topic where injured athletes share their stories.

the psychological side of getting injured – navigating hope, heartbreak & anger

It’s been exactly 2 months now since my surgery. And for a while recovery was going really well – my pain level was decreasing steadily, my range of motion was increasing, and I felt myself getting stronger and more confident every day as a result of physical therapy. And so, I naturally felt myself getting more and more hopeful. I told myself I would do my best to remain as present as possible and just focus on healing for now, but as soon as I felt the pain start to dissipate I couldn’t stop thinking about swimming. I realized that maybe this didn’t have to be a year solely dedicated to my recovery – maybe I could heal in time to train for a big swim late in the season.

While pre-surgery I never even considered the possibility, my mind started circling back to Catalina over and over again. From an outsider’s perspective it would seem crazy, maybe even impossible. Training for a 20+ mile swim with incredibly unpredictable weather conditions, currents, tides, water temperatures and sea life is hard enough as it is, but when you factor in the fact that I am just coming out of a very recent shoulder surgery and I haven’t swam longer than 4 miles at a time in years it sounds insane. But I also know myself and I know how stubborn I am when I set my mind to something. I knew that if I decided to do this swim this year, I would do this swim this year. It was simply a matter of how my body would feel afterwards.

Catalina has been my goal for almost as long as I’ve been swimming. Every time I’ve visited the island over the past 5 years, I’ve gazed out to the horizon to see Long Beach in the distance and told myself that I was going to swim it with unshakeable certainty. And even though Anacapa was an incredibly meaningful swim for me (mainly because it was my first ever solo channel swim), I really always just thought of it as a stepping stone for Catalina. A training swim of sorts. And so though I know the logical decision is to use this year as a time to focus on recovery and slowly get back into swimming – maybe train for a shorter swim somewhere in the 10-15 mile range – it has been impossible to get my mind off of Catalina. The fact is, I don’t want to wait another year. I have waited 2 extra years already. This swim has been my biggest dream, something I’ve been fixated on and enchanted by for half my lifetime.

I slowly started swimming again a couple weeks ago. The first time just a 400, the next time a little longer. And though at first I was feeling confident, after my third or forth swim my shoulder started to hurt. Badly. It’s been 5 days since I last swam, and still it hurts when I do even the slightest movements. And then it started to set in: how can I expect to train for a 20 mile swim in 4 months when right now I can’t even brush my teeth without pain?

I talked to my friend Gracie a few days ago about all this, who is possibly the most badass person I’ve ever met and holds the record for the fastest Catalina crossing. She reminded me that swimming Catalina is no joke, and that it was going to be really difficult considering my particular situation this year, but that she would support me 100% in whatever I decided to do. I told her that I expected it to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but that I wouldn’t be doing it if it were easy. And I asked her if she thought I could be successful, as despite being so determined about succeeding and so disciplined when it comes to my training, I inevitably had my doubts. Gracie said, “Paige, I know you. If you jump in that water off of Catalina and start swimming, you would finish that swim even if it killed you. And that’s what scares me.”

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my relationship with this sport since that conversation. And the truth is, marathon swimming is the love of my life. It has taught me how much I’m capable of, inspired me to overcome some of my biggest fears, forced me to learn discipline, brought me out of some of the darkest times of my life, and showed me what it’s like to feel truly alive. And yet, it’s also been the catalyst for some of the hardest times of my life, particularly in the past few years as I’ve struggled with this injury and the results it has had on my mental health. It has catapulted me into the most intense emotional rollercoaster of my life.

Countless times over the past few years, I’ve gotten my hopes up as my shoulder started to feel better and I started to get excited about the possibility of swimming again. And every time, the pain came back and my heart was broken once again. Since I’ve gone through this process so many times – the wondering and the confusion, the budding hope, the elation and excitement for what’s to come, and then the heartbreak of finding out it’s not going to happen after all – I try to temper my excitement every time the pain starts to dissipate. I try to release my expectations. But inevitably I start to get excited, and I set huge goals for myself. And then the lows I experience afterwards are so much more intense and all-consuming.

Out of all the emotions I’ve experienced as a result of this injury, the one that seems to be most prominent is anger. It can range anywhere from annoyance or frustration to full-blown, red-hot rage. I get angry with myself for pushing through the pain for so much longer than I should have, and angry at the medical professionals I’ve worked with who have failed to help me, and angry at the world for continuing to take away the thing I love more than anything. But mostly, I get angry at my body.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of health challenges throughout my life, and the result of these struggles is the underlying belief that my body is somehow betraying me. Or that I can’t trust my body, or that it’s giving up on me, or that it wants to keep me from living a fulfilling life and pursuing my passions. And though I’ve done a lot of inner work around this and improved my relationship with my body exponentially over the past few years, this belief still comes to the surface whenever I find myself struggling with pain once again. And in those moments, I find myself filled with rage at a level I’ve never experienced before. I feel so angry that I was just starting to dip my toes into this sport and really start to explore what I’m capable of, and then it was taken away from me. I feel so angry because I know I could swim Catalina this year if I tried, but I probably won’t even get the chance to try because I know it could mean damaging my shoulder to the point where it’s beyond repair. And I feel so angry that my greatest passion was taken away from me, and that I feel like I’m getting “behind” somehow and I’m missing out on so many incredible experiences.

I know it’s all temporary. And I know that I’m only 19 and I have my whole life ahead of me. And despite everything, I’m grateful for the way dealing with this injury has allowed me to cultivate so much more inner strength, courage, trust, and patience. And yet, right now, I’m angry. I also know that a lot of this anger is coming up as a result of other emotions I haven’t allowed myself to fully process and accept yet. My grief for everything I’ve missed out on over the past few years. My embarrassment around the belief that being injured somehow makes me weak. And my deep, all-consuming fear. Fear that I will never get back to where I was athletically, fear that I will never reach my full potential, fear that being out of the water for so long will cause my to lose my inner spark and passion for the sport.

I’m writing this to shed light on the incredibly long, tedious, emotionally-charged process of getting injured and then recovering for those of you who have never struggled with a long-term injury. Unfortunately, recovery is far from linear. It’s impossible to know exactly how you’ll be feeling in a week from now, or a month from now, or a year from now. And though it’s really, really hard, I’m working on being more okay with the not-knowing. And I’m working on letting go of the things that are not in my control. This has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but I also know that it isn’t forever. And I know that it will make my future successes so much sweeter.

surgery

So, I got surgery about a week and a half ago. It’s been an incredibly rough road getting to where I am now (mentally and physically), but I’m finally starting to feel a little more hopeful.

The plan was to open up my shoulder and clean out all the damaged/inflamed tissue from the tendinitis and bursitis. I surprisingly had no nerves pre-surgery – my surgeon is amazing and specializes in shoulder injuries so I had no doubt everything would go smoothly. It was only when I was lying down and they were poking around for my veins that I started to feel a little anxious. Doctors typically have a hard time finding my veins when they’re drawing blood and this time was no different; they ended up sticking the IV in my hand – ouch! – because they couldn’t find a place to put it in my arm. After they finished poking and prodding I felt a little better.

The next thing I remember I was waking up thinking I was about to go in for surgery. In reality, they had already finished. The anesthesia had messed with my perception of the passing of time; it felt like the surgery had gone by in an instant when in reality I think it took almost an hour. My entire right arm and hand was numb – I couldn’t even move my fingers. I was drugged up and loopy and a little nauseous, but feeling okay overall.

The nurse took me out to my dad’s truck in a wheelchair and helped me climb in. I asked my dad for a smoothie since it was 3pm and I hadn’t eaten and drank anything – including water – since the night before. He got himself a large smoothie and me a small one. I finished mine in all of 2 minutes and he went in to get me another one. I hadn’t realized how hungry I really was. He took me home, and I tried to watch a TV show, but I couldn’t focus on what was going on and ended up going to sleep instead.

As it turns out, I had a huge bone spur that was pinching my rotator cuff and causing me a lot of pain. Hearing this made a lot of sense because I never quite understood why I had been in so much pain for so long if it was really just tendinitis and bursitis. Beyond this there was no structural damage, which I’m incredibly grateful for. My surgeon shaved off part of the bone that was sticking out and then did some clean-up work. I feel like this is kind of the best possible scenario, since initially we weren’t sure how effective the surgery would be, but now we know it will help since we took care of some structural issues.

The week after surgery was really hard, but honestly not as hard as I had expected. I was definitely in pain, but I think the worst part was the nausea and feeling like a zombie from all the drugs I was on. I decided to go off the Percocet they gave me a couple days after surgery, figuring being in a little more pain was better than being dizzy and having blurry vision and constantly feeling as though I was on the verge of throwing up. It has been a little frustrating having to learn to do everything with my left hand since I’m right-handed, but I am being patient with myself and I’m regaining more mobility every day.

Seeing how well the surgery went, I think it’s very possible I could still train for and complete a major swim this year. I’m not sure what this will look like as far as distance and conditions, but I’m feeling very grateful to be where I’m at in my journey.

mri results

Wanted to give a quick update on here since I got my MRI results back a few days ago. Turns out I don’t have a labrum tear (!!!), just a lot of inflammation.

I am beyond relieved about the results, but still bummed that this process is far from being over. Since the pain hasn’t subsided after 2 years of physical therapy, taking breaks from swimming, cortisone shots, and massages, surgery seems to be my best option. It will be a minimally-invasive surgery in which my doctor will basically just clean out the damaged tissue. There’s no guarantee that this will completely get rid of the pain, but obviously that is the hope.

My surgeon is amazing and is most likely able to get me in a week from now, or at most 2 weeks from now. I will be out of the water for 3 months following the surgery. So for now, I’m just trying to swim as much as I possibly can.

My hope is that the surgery will go smoothly, I’ll heal in 3 months, and then I’ll have 4 months to train for a big swim (assuming I’ll be able to sign up for something in mid-October). I have a few ideas, but I’m trying not to let my mind run away from me and just focus on healing for now. Which is really hard for me, as I am always at my best when I have a huge goal I’m working towards. But I’m doing my best to stay present.

In the meantime, I need to find a new sport for 3 months. Maybe I will try to make myself into a runner. Who knows what the future may hold!

nostalgia

Things I miss the most: Early nights. Even earlier mornings. Jumping into the inky black abyss long before the sun rises. Seeing the sun slowly rise above the horizon, its orange glow illuminating the waves, the mountains, the skyline of Santa Barbara. The way I couldn’t sleep for weeks leading up to big swims because my heart was beating so fast in excitement and anticipation. The community. Meeting like-minded people who believed in me and wanted to support me in any way they could. Swimming the longest I’ve ever swam before, and thinking to myself “I bet I could swim longer next time.” Looking across the bay, or the channel, or the lake, and seeing the faint outline of land in the distance. Thinking to myself, “I bet I could swim that.” Being inspired by countless stories of wild, unprecedented, badass swims. Experiencing the highest highs and lowest lows, all in the span of hours or even minutes. Night swims. The way they scared me shitless and were also the most invigorating, exhilarating, empowering experiences of my life. Watching the bioluminescence beneath me, like fireworks being lit up with every stroke. The countless hours of training, and researching, and mentally preparing, and acclimating. The way my entire life revolved around my training schedule. The way each training swim taught me to be braver, and stronger, and more determined, and more resilient. The way I didn’t think I was capable of doing something, and my mind filled up with self-doubt and fear and discouragement, but I pushed through and did it anyway. The empowerment. The adrenaline rush. The exhilaration.

I find out whether or not I have a tear sometime in the next few days. I’m not really sure how to feel – excited that I’m finally making some kind of progress regarding my shoulder, or devastated that the recovery is going to be long either way. I’m learning to hold both of these feelings simultaneously. It feels really, really hard, especially when I start romanticizing the times in my life when I was in peak training mode. I miss it. So much. But I’m learning to slow down, and make peace with the fact that I am only 19 and I have the rest of my life to swim. Even though there is a fire within me begging me to swim RIGHT NOW!

an update…

It’s been years since I posted anything on here, I know. In all honesty, I forgot I even had this blog for a while. But I’ve received some news recently regarding swimming and my shoulders and writing has always been such a powerful tool in helping me process information, so I figured I might as well write a blog post.

The past couple years have been quite the emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. My shoulder got really bad, and it seemed like nothing was working – physical therapy, time out of the water, cortisone shots, massages, etc. But I was told my my doctors and physical therapists that I didn’t have a tear, that it was just a particularly bad case of tendinitis, that if I did my PT exercises and spent some time out of the water the pain would eventually go away. Unfortunately, it’s been 2 years, and I’m still in pain.

I was out of the water for nearly a year at one point, which was definitely the hardest year of my life. Swimming has always been the first thing I turn to whenever I’m going through shit. Being in the water always helps me make sense of things and puts whatever I’m struggling with into perspective.

On top of that, being a marathon swimmer was what I formed practically my whole identity around, so when that was taken away from me, I had a bit of an identity crisis. It was like I didn’t even know who I was outside of swimming.

And while that whole experience was very difficult and painful, I’m incredibly grateful for it because it has showed me who I am outside of just being a swimmer. It has taught me that I am not defined by the things I do or how productive I am or what my external reality looks like. That’s a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Additionally, this experience is teaching me patience. It’s showing me how much more meaningful and powerful experiences are when I’ve waited a long, long time for them. I tend to be quite an impatient person by nature and live my life with a sense of urgency, typically going after whatever I want without so much as a second thought. So this experience has tested me, a lot. It has illuminated parts of myself that I had never seen before. It has forced me to slow down and be more present with what I am experiencing right now, rather than always looking towards the future.

I think this is something many marathon swimmers and other extreme athletes suffer with – always seeing each success as simply a stepping-stone for the next big thing, rather than really taking the time to be proud of how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished.

At the time, finishing my Anacapa swim seemed incredibly anticlimactic. It was a beautiful, empowering experience, but I was mainly just focused on how this swim was a great training swim for Catalina. And for Tahoe. And for the English Channel, and the North Channel, and Monterey Bay, and whatever else I decided to set my sights on. Now, having still not swum Catalina or Tahoe 2 years later, I am finally processing how big of an accomplishment Anacapa was, even though it didn’t seem like it at the time. I trained my ass off for that swim. I practically sacrificed my entire life in preparing for that swim. And no, that swim was not my peak – Anacapa is just the beginning for me. It was my first ever big solo swim, and although much bigger things are coming for me, I will forever be grateful for everything Anacapa has given me and taught me about myself. Every time I look out and see the faint outline of that island on the horizon, I am struck by how my life has been altered permanently as a result of that experience. It has allowed me to experience the highest highs and the lowest lows and helped me cultivate so much self-awareness and inner strength, and I wouldn’t change any of that for the world.

My goals have shifted since I last posted on here. Now, I feel that the most logical next step for me is Tahoe. I visited Tahoe for the first time several months ago and swam in the lake when the water was a freezing 46° (the coldest water I’ve ever swam in). There was something so magical and exhilarating and invigorating about swimming in that lake. From the moment I stuck my toe in, I knew I’d have to swim it.

I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon yesterday. I feel really, really good about him – he is a swimmer himself, and he’s apparently one of the best shoulder surgeons in the country. He said I definitely have severe tendinitis and bursitis, which I already knew. He also said it’s possible that I may have a labrum tear, so I’m getting another MRI as soon as possible to see if this is the case. Either way, I will be getting surgery. I’m obviously hoping it’s just the tendinitis and bursitis that is causing me pain, because in that case it would be a minimally-invasive surgery (just cleaning out the damaged tissue), rather than also having to repair my damaged tendon (which would be more invasive and would require a much longer recovery time). But I know that whatever happens, I can handle it.

So, I’m not sure if Tahoe is in the cards for me this year after all. But I’m relieved that I am finally making progress of some kind and moving towards a much more pain-free life. It’s incredibly frustrating to have to wait again, but I know this process will just make my success so much sweeter and more meaningful in the long run.

my first swim!

This morning I woke up and looked out at the ocean from my living room window. The wind was howling and blowing 25 knots, and I could see whitecaps dotting the water. A storm was coming. It was supposed to rain nonstop for the next few days, which meant I wouldn’t be able to swim because of all the nasty runoff.

So I decided then that I would go for a swim. I didn’t know how long I would last, how long I could withstand the 57 degree water after losing much of my cold tolerance over the past few months, how long I could swim before I started feeling that pinching sensation that later on leads to shooting pain in my rotator cuff.

As I walked down to the beach I realized how huge the really swells were. I was alone, as all my swim buddies either didn’t want to swim in these conditions or they were out of town for the holidays. I was terrified, but also incredibly excited. I would take stormy, angry seas like these over blue skies and flat conditions almost any day. It always makes swimming seem like so much more of an adventure.

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I started wading in as I was splashed from every direction. I tried to keep my breathing slow and even as I felt like the cold and the adrenaline was taking my breath away. It seemed to take forever to get past where the waves were breaking, but I finally dove under and started to swim.

I probably swam about 300 meters out, and even out there, huge waves were cresting and crashing down on me as I swam. My heart finally stopped racing as I warmed up and began to find my rhythm. Every so often I would stop and tread water to feel the waves carry me and crash over me, soaking up the impossible beauty of the moment. There are no words to describe the thrill, the adrenaline rush, the sense of freedom and adventure you experience when you’re out there in the water, alone and completely in the hands of Mother Nature.

Eventually I swam in, playing and bodysurfing in the waves for a few minutes before I got out. I don’t think I had ever felt so alive. A few onlookers had gathered on the beach, probably wondering what kind of crazy person swims on a day like this. I chatted with them for a few minutes and then headed home. My heart was overflowing with gratitude and pure bliss.

I’m hoping my shoulders will soon be strong enough so I can swim much farther, but right now I am more than content with more short swims like this one. I’m so incredibly excited for the many adventures that await me.

good news + announcing my next goal (!!!)

Hi! So, I got my MRI results back! And good news – I DON’T HAVE A TEAR. Thank god. Not sure how I could have dealt with that. Anyway, I talked to my doctor today and he strongly suggested getting a cortisone shot, which I’m planning on pursuing. He said that it could literally get rid of the inflammation completely and allow me to swim again. So, I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and hopefully he will agree to giving me the shot.

ANYWAY. I guess now’s as good of a time as ever to announce my next goal. Which might not mean much, since I’m pretty sure about 10 people read this blog. But anyway, my plan is Catalina. THE Catalina Channel. Crazy stuff. Next summer, if my shoulder cooperates and I’m able to start swimming again soon. AHHHHH.

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I can’t wait until I’m able to throw myself back into my training. Just thinking about it makes my heart start pounding and my adrenaline start pumping.

I’m kind of scared I’ve forgotten how to swim? Like, what if I set out to swim for an hour and find myself gasping for breath and shaking from the cold? But I know that I’m so capable of this swim, and I’ll do everything I can to get there. I still have a ways to go in the healing process, but I will make sure to update you all on my progress! Catalina, here I come!

it’s been a while

Hi. I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written. The truth is, I’ve been (trying) to avoid the thought of swimming lately, as I have no idea how long it’ll be until I’m back in the water.  Which isn’t working out too well as the first thing I see when I look out my window every morning is Anacapa, a faint smudge on the horizon. I got an MRI for my shoulder a few days ago and I’m waiting on the results. So, I could be back in a week, or I could be back in a year.

I’ve been finding other ways to fill my free time. I love hiking, although it’s nothing compared to swimming. It still has some of the same elements of freedom and adventure and being outdoors, though. I’d love to turn myself into a runner, although I’m not sure if that’s really in the cards for me as my legs start to burn and I’m completely out of breath after running for about 2 minutes. But who knows! I think I’ll enter a 5k and see how it goes.

I just really, really miss swimming. I miss Thursday morning swims, watching the sun peak over the mountains while the rest of the town is still fast asleep. I miss wild, angry seas and the sense of adventure they bring. I miss calm, tranquil waters and impossibly beautiful conditions. I miss going to bed by 9 on Friday nights and waking up the next morning long before the sun rises. I miss the adrenaline, the anticipation, the fear that reminds me that I’m alive. I miss the constant growth and learning experiences that come from pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I miss the shock of cold water when I first dive under and how it feels horribly painful and incredibly thrilling at the same time. I miss constantly looking out on the horizon and thinking to myself, “I could swim that.”

I know that all of this is temporary. And that I have so many other things in my life that bring me immense joy and a sense of purpose. This is just how I’m feeling at the moment. And I know that this will pass, that soon enough I’ll be back in the water, stroking towards my next dream.

a month out of the water….

So, it’s been over a month since the last time I swam. I’ve been kicking in the pool, and going for ocean dips every once in a while to clear my head, but I haven’t swam a single stroke. It’s forced me to step back from the swimming community for a while, to try to figure out who I am outside of swimming. There are so many things I miss about it. The mental clarity it brings, the rush of endorphins. The sense of freedom I can’t really get from anything else. The adrenaline before jumping in for a long training swim. Backstroking to watch the sun peak up over the horizon and fill the sky with its warm glow.

But the thing I’ve missed the most, I think, has just been that sense of purpose that marathon swimming brings to my life. The motivation, the drive to improve. The excitement of getting closer and closer to achieving a goal. The adrenaline rush every time I think about my next swim. That sense of empowerment and pride that comes from achieving something I didn’t know I could achieve.

I know what my goals are for next year, but thinking about them right now just gives me a sense of hopeless longing that isn’t really helping anything… I’ll start planning once I get back in the water.

Which, according to my doctor, should be another 2-3 weeks from now. I thought I might be able to start swimming again next week since my shoulder has been feeling a lot better, but it turns out I still have a ways to go. I swam on Wednesday for probably 3 or 4 minutes before my shoulder started hurting too badly, and 3 days later, it still hurts from those few minutes of swimming. So, clearly my body isn’t ready, but I’m getting there.

In the meantime! I’ve been hiking a lot and working out the gym almost every day (on the elliptical, stairclimber, bike… anything that doesn’t require the use of my shoulder). I’ve started to really enjoy hiking, and although it doesn’t even begin to compare to ocean swimming, being in nature is very healing, especially when you’re sweating.

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View from my hike this morning. I could see Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel on the horizon.

Anyway. I have a few more post ideas that I’m planning to write soon. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!