In March of 2014, I attended a swimming clinic that was hosted by CAF and designated as the LIM359 activity for the month. It’s probably important to note at this point that I was the one who had designated the clinic as LIM359’s activity for March even though I had very little interest in donning a bathing suit, taking off my leg, and jumping into a cold pool for an hour. However, I also realized how much of a hypocrite I would be if I did not participate all the while encouraging our members to try it even if they were a little intimidated, particularly because I was the one who chose the activity and because I’m one of the leaders of the group.
So, I showed up for the clinic wearing my 2-piece padded tankini from Target and was determined to set a good example about stepping outside your comfort zone for the rest of our group. This was literally the only reason I chose to participate that day, and yet it turned out to be a life-changing event for me.
You see, while I learned to swim as a kid and spent a lot of time in the pool (particularly during the summers we lived in Texas and Louisiana), I never swam competitively and hadn’t attempted anything aside from the doggy paddle since sometime in high school when I would go cliff jumping with my friends, and even then we didn’t really have to swim very far. Getting back in the water as an adult and truly swimming was an amazing feeling and I ended up spending not one, but two full hours in the pool that day working on different strokes. What started as a day of dread ended with a newfound passion because during those hours in the pool, I also decided I was going to do a triathlon. I already knew I could bike and run the distance for a sprint triathlon, so swimming had been the missing link and now I knew I could do that!
Four months later I completed my first sprint distance triathlon, and realized I had passion for triathlon. These days I train 6-7 days a week, so I’d say it’s had a pretty huge impact on my life. It’s really amazing to think back to that swimming clinic and how I did it only to set a good example for others in our group, yet I found a passion because I practiced what I preached and stepped outside my own comfort zone.
Next time you’re hesitant about trying something new, remember that it could potentially end up leading you down a path towards your passion. And even if it doesn’t, at least you can say you tried and learned something about yourself through the experience, even if the only thing you learned was that the specific thing you tried was not your cup of tea. No matter what, we will always have room to grow, and stepping outside our comfort zone is one of the easiest ways to capitalize on that potential. Believe me, the potential rewards just may be worth the risk!