By Mo Breden
Life with Mo took a pretty amazing turn this month. I have written previously about my swim life. On the 5th of November, I celebrated two years as a Master Swimmer. On the 7th of November, I achieved a personal swim goal for 2014 of swimming 500 miles. And finally, on the 9th of November I completed my first marathon swim, of 8 miles. Swimming from Clearwater to Tampa, Florida along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, becoming the oldest female to do this. Some of these accomplishments I shared with others, and some were between me and myself until this moment.
The significance of reaching these goals is something I’d like to talk to you about today. First, nobody accomplishes anything worthwhile without the help of others. For the entire summer, I swam at least twice a week in open water, with someone I consider to be a world-class athlete. My training partner pushed me to my absolute limits every time we swam. We swam in some crazy conditions with waves lifting us way up and crashing us way down, we had a few “moments” of disagreement, but the thing I remember most is her laughing through the worst of what the open water threw at us. She made it fun. My training partner has a tough exterior, but she was the first to meet me at the waters edge at the completion of the 8 miles. She was choking back tears as we hugged, knowing we had done it, together.
My lane mates, all of you that have ever shared the pool with me, you all gave me something. Watching you improve helped me to improve. Your support and encouragement over the past two years has been priceless. We all have had our ups and our downs, but in the end, we showed up to practice, and we pushed hard every night. Some of you were also there waiting for my 8 mile finish, and I will carry your warm hugs and congratulations with me always.
This year I had two coaches. My YMCA Masters Coach took me from not being able to swim with my face in the water, to having the confidence to believe I could swim a marathon. The 8 mile Swim Director and Coach gives me the confidence to believe that this was not my last marathon, through encouragement and sincere congratulations.
My mentor is an amazing swimmer, but also an amazing human being. She gave me books to read, gave me nutritional advice, and answered all my crazy questions all summer long. She researched my swim history and created a personalized swim plan for me to follow through the summer to prepare me to swim 8 miles. She never doubted that I could do it. I know that she was as happy for me as she was for herself at completing the swim. She is a rare individual.
On my 8 mile marathon swim, I was required to have a kayaker beside me. My kayaker also supplied, transported and coordinated with all of the other kayakers from within my Master Swim group. She did two training swims with me and then sat in a kayak on a cloudy, cold Florida day and guided me for 8 miles. I was in the water for 7 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds; she sat in a kayak and paddled and talked to me and encouraged me. I loved her, and I hated her, but she got me to the end. Think about how you would feel in that kayak– no bathroom facilities, dealing with the cold, wind, and one cranky old lady in the water.
Last but not least, my non-swim family and friends, who have watched, encouraged and actively supported my swim life. My daughter made a sign and held it up along the swim course, and she, my son-in-law and a dear friend met me at the finish with flowers and balloons. Then my daughter and son-in-law followed me home, got me into bed and helped to hydrate and feed me. Yes, they did.
How could I not be successful with these extraordinary people surrounding me?
During the swim, I never had a thought of giving up or not finishing. Many of you know about my daughter’s battle with brain tumors, most do not know that I lost my older brother in a car accident many years ago. During the toughest parts of the swim, my daughter was my left arm, and my brother was my right arm. Erin is my courage and Calvin is my endurance; that was my mantra.
From the beginning of my swim life, I have always said, if I can do it, so can you. I have also encouraged you to find your passion and go for it. That is all I have done- swimming is my passion.
Thanks for stopping by to read my post; I hope to see yas next time, for Life with Mo.