Zionsville Aquatic Masters member Lisa Brown shares her story from the USMS 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship
My first thought when I saw U.S. Masters Swimming’s 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship would be just 10 miles from my house was that this was great. I signed up months in advance, which gave me enough time to put together a training plan and set a goal for the event. I was going to be ready.
But was I ready come race day of June 15? No. Life happens. But I’m as ready as any 50-something woman, mother, wife, daughter, and full-time employee can be.
The race begins at 8 a.m., so I wake up at 5:30, eat, and have coffee. There’s rain in the forecast, so I worry that we won’t get the race in. Once I get to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, I see that the parking lot is full and begin to worry that I’m late. When I see how long the line is for check-in, I start to worry that I won’t have enough time to warm up.
Yes, we’re getting the race in. No, I’m not late, and I did get to warm up.
I find my Zionsville Aquatic Masters teammates, hug some old friends, and look at the water, the course, the sky, and the trees. I think of all the people who’ll be swimming today: other coaches, teammates, people from all over the country, new swimmers, and others who are there for someone else.
I also think of those we’ve lost who loved the race and open water. As the Indiana LMSC chair, I read a tribute to our friend Bill Roach, who was instrumental in facilitating USMS’s open water safety rules. We have a moment of silence for Bill, who passed away earlier this year.
Before I get in, I realize I’m lucky to be here, healthy, happy, safe, and surrounded by smart, funny people I call my swimming friends. Nervous before the start, we line up and get in. Soon our arms and feet are splashing, and our heads are out of the water, sighting the first buoy. As we round the first buoy, people accidentally hit each other, and some stop to say they’re sorry. Masters swimmers are very nice.
The clouds build up through the race, the wind picks up, and it’s raining hard. The safety personnel on the paddleboards and kayaks look frozen and miserable, but the water temperature of around 72 degrees feels great if you’re swimming.
Then I think, “I love this. The feel of the water, the fresh air on my arms, the rain on my arms.” With one lap to go, I tell myself, “Turn it on, girl. You got this. You know what you have to do. You worked hard, you’re healthy, you’re strong, you’re lucky.”
The finish finally comes. Did I do well? Did I beat my competition? I have no idea. All I know is I finished, I met my goal, and I completed the race, the national championship.
Everyone swims to the shore to get out. There are smiles and congratulations all around. We’re happy for each other. We all finished, we all worked hard, we all met our goal. Some win, some finish, and some are just glad to be here.
I think about the other swimmers I invited to join me in the race. Most of them reply, “Oh, no, I’m not ready for a race.” Who is ever really ready? Ever?
As a Masters swimmer, we’re at a stage in life where we don’t have hours a day to train for a race, like we did in high school or college. Sometimes I only have two hours a week, and I work at a pool! But the freedom and peace that doing an open water race provides is amazing. This has to happen again soon. I look forward to my next open water race—whether I’m ready or not.
- Open Water