This weekend has been a great reminder of how powerful finding one’s sacred space for fitness can be. I participated in two activities over the weekend that got me back in my element. And I can’t wait to return, again and again and again.
I often joke that while my astrological sign is a fire element, I am really a water baby. Water has been my comfort spot since I can remember. My mom claims I must have mermaid blood in me because from day one, I was an instant swimmer. My passion for marine life sparked me to join the swim team at the age of 6, and I have been an avid swimmer ever since.
When I was a marine mammal trainer, one of my favorite duties wasn’t playing with animals (although that was definitely a perk, I’ll admit). My favorite job was all the diving I got to do on a daily basis. The thrill of not just being in my element, but becoming like the fish and breathing underwater was remarkable. There still is to this day nothing that compares to it.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to dive was cut drastically when I left that job because I don’t own any SCUBA equipment and diving as a sport is rather expensive. So, time went on and I didn’t get to SCUBA dive. Years passed and the closest I came was snorkeling in Alaska, twice, and taking a refresher SCUBA course.
It’s been exactly 3704 days since I last donned a wetsuit and swam underwater with a tank on my back and a regulator in my mouth. That’s ten years, one month, and three weeks. Not that I was counting or anything. But that all changed when I responded to a local want ad for a diver to help a local islander cleaning his boat. This new friend was an avid diver with tons of SCUBA equipment, but his arthritis was preventing him from cleaning the hull of his boat. Would I be interested in helping him out?
Would I be interested? For the opportunity to get back in my element doing one of my favorite activities on earth? Sure. How much does this cost me? Nothing. I had to get my own mask and wetsuit, but as luck would have it, I was renting one for another event. With that, I was breaking my non-dive streak.
The best part of the day wasn’t the incredible Puget Sound marine life I saw. It wasn’t feeling comfortable in a thin racing wetsuit for my first ever dive in Puget Sound waters. It was the offer to do it again, practically whenever I wanted. It was finding a freaking dive partner with dive equipment. Returning to the sea wasn’t a one time deal. I would be allowed this luxury on a much more regular basis, if I wanted.
I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day. But I couldn’t spend too much time celebrating. I had an early day ahead of me. That was the second part of my Water Element Weekend. I participated in the Whidbey Island Triathlon as the swimmer on a relay team.
My teammates are amazing at their sport. Phil can finish a curvy, hilly 19.5 mile course on his bike in well under an hour. Today, we are pretty sure he finished his leg in 50 minutes flat. Sam, our runner is also amazing. He clocked his 3.6 mile run in roughly 24 minutes. But they both admit they could never do a full triathlon because they can’t swim. Which is ironic to me because swimming would be just about the only portion of a triathlon I would remotely enjoy. My swim time is not as impressive as Phil’s bike time or Sam’s run, but it was good enough to give Phil an easy lead and let Sam finish very strong. We ended up finishing the triathlon in 1 hour, 32 minutes.
The great thing about swimming is not just that I am in the water. Swimming is great cardio and easier on my knees. While running and biking and jumping around are tough on my joints, swimming can give you a similar workout with killing my knees. The downside is there are limited places and/or times to go swimming. But after completing the half-mile swim in over 15 minutes when I swore I could complete it in under, I feel a desperate need to spend more time in my element, if not for my own fitness, at least for my triathlon team.
Being in the water reminds me how powerful our sacred spaces are to our fitness and even to the environment. I love the Puget Sound. the thought of pollution in this pristine and diverse environment is upsetting, but not in a despondent way where I let despair take over, but in a motivating and inspiring way to do more to protect it. The water is like a second home to me, it’s where I am comfortable and gives me a sense of calm and peace. I will do anything to preserve this element so it is around for me to enjoy for years to come.