Oh comfort zone, where art thou? New depths of perseverance and resilience

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I’m sharing my journey of training for the swim in January. I do this to process my thoughts, keep myself accountable and hopefully help someone else along the way.

This week reached a new level of challenge in my “challenge-persevere-complete” journey. It’s not easy. I had anticipated that, but when you are in the midst, it’s tough.

I am the kind of person who acts confidently under pressure, I have resilience and can take charge. So what is it like for me when I feel that I’m up against it, when I am not in my zone of control and confidence. A new depth of resilience and perseverance needs to be accessed. Training and coaching stretches in a new way. I constantly need to change the message in my head from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’. It’s more easily said than done.

I think in these circumstances I draw from the real person inside, both in a physical and mental way. Sometimes it’s valuable to think back to facing previous experiences to ‘know thyself’ as well as know my capacity.

As a 10 year old I moved to a new school, Cronulla South Public School. I had already changed primary schools a couple of times and aware of the challenges of learning the culture, finding new friends and generally fitting in. I was (and still am) somewhat competitive, perhaps this was part of my defence mechanism in facing a new challenge.

Summer sport was swimming at the local ocean pools and the new kids were assessed and assigned a level of competency, I was relegated to the red group, second from the bottom and went to Oak Park pool. All the cool kids were in the green group, about three levels up, at Gunnamatta Bay. I wasn’t happy at this assessment and my main goal was to prove myself and get to the green group – which I achieved.

This week at swimming training, both in the pool and at the beach I felt like I was back in the red group. But the good thing I know about myself is that I have the mental perseverance and resilience to improve. At both sets of training this week it was as much a mental challenge as a physical one – both significant.

At the mid-week pool training I really want to be a good learner – I want to listen, make changes and improve, and definitely not make excuses. I want vulnerability, because I know that this is the best way to grow, put down the defences and be open to being critiqued and corrected. I could see that when I made the small changes that the coach suggested I could feel the difference that it made. I swam further in that session than I had in a very long time.

photo 2 (2)Then this morning for the Saturday training at the Coogee Beach I needed to tap into that mental and physical depths even further. I am confident in the surf, I’ve been beach swimming all my life, I know the sand, the waves and rhythm of the sea. Coaching is so valuable. Good coaches push, challenge and encourage and cheer on. I swam even further, I was that last person to come in, I felt like giving up.

The thing that really encouraged me to sign up to a group activity like this was that a key value is ‘inclusivity’ and I experienced this today. So as I struggled with the distance we needed to swim, I noticed a ‘white cap’ (one of the coaching team) come alongside me, ‘Emma’ her name was written on her cap. She stayed with me, encouraged me and helped my persevere. I love the culture of Can Too. As I struggled, Emma wanted to support me, but also to push me. She was amazing.

Yes, I was that last swimmer in the group. I will do this, but not alone. The key is to have people cheering and struggling with you. As Emma said to me,

“We will support you until you can support yourself.”

@anneknock

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