One of my favorite sports is swimming. I especially love long swims in
warm water, but I'm pretty happy swimming most anywhere. An ideal day for
me involves time in, on or around the ocean.
You can imagine my shock two years ago, then, when I did a triathlon
with our daughter, Kelly, and had a panic attack as soon as I hit the
water. I know that being bumped, bounced and trounced happens because
I've been in other ocean races. But what hit me that morning was much
more than other swimmers. I simply could not put my head in the water.
I prayed to God, and I talked to myself. I said, "Cindy, you love the
water, you're going to put your head in now." No sooner had my nose
touched the surface, however, than I started to hyperventilate. I swam
half the race with my head up--until I finally calmed down enough to put
my head in the water.
I completed the triathlon that day, although I have been haunted by
When our other daughter, Amy, said she wanted to compete in this
year's triathlon, I decided to join her. I knew I had more than a
physical race ahead of me; however, I wanted to conquer my fear. The
first thing I did was admit my struggle. I thought it would be
embarrassing, but it was actually liberating.
Nobody laughed at me. Several people told me they had experienced the
same thing, so I knew I wasn't alone. Many said they would pray for me,
and others offered help.
One good friend named Becky called and asked, "When do you want to go
swimming?" I was surprised and answered, "Wow, Becky, I thought you
didn't like swimming in the ocean."
"I don't," she said. "But I'll do whatever I can to help and encourage
I signed up for a swim clinic. Even perfect strangers there were
committed to helping me. As soon as we did the group start, though, my
heart began pounding and my head wouldn't budge.
One swim instructor swam with me for awhile and a lifeguard paddled
nearby. I thought about quitting and just cheering for Amy when someone
swam by and said, "You'll go faster if you put your head in the water."
I realized then that I didn't want fear to stop me. I relaxed and
finally put my head down.
I signed up for a second swim clinic. Amy said she would come, and
another good friend of ours named Michael offered to join us.
"I will swim next to you, and we will see you make a breakthrough in
this," he said.
And we did. You'll read more about that next week. For now I'll close
by saying: Everybody has fears, but nobody has to face them alone.
And you can quote me on that.