As a kid I grew up in a seaside suburb, but I never really spent a lot of time at the beach. Sure there'd be days we'd head down for a swim, but not as a regular thing. I was more inactive, a little overweight, and more introverted really. I could swim, but I never competed save for the yearly school swimming carnival and now and again the next level if I freaked a good lap time there. Training? Did people really do that? I certainly didn't feel at home at the beach or wherever there were swim squads or other sporting pursuits.
So today is a life far removed from my childhood. Above and below are photos of Bondi beach today (somewhat modified as you can see) after the ocean swim that was today's competition. I started swimming in senior high school when I realised I was a bit overweight and needed to do something about it. Training on my own I started cycling to school (it wasn't all that close to home) and then after school to the 25m pool which had me gasping at the end of each lap. It gradually grew from there, still without any formal training, occasionally with friends but no real physical challenge. Then in preparation for the gay games in 2002 in Sydney I agreed with a friend to train for it - actually go the whole hog, squads, gym, the works. He didn't continue but I kept on and ultimately competed successfully (it was a lot of fun but some seriously hard work too). I had broken my own self created mould. I'd become a competitive athlete. With time my love for things aquatic continues to grow, I live by the water, swim daily whether it be in the waves with crowds, on my own with the sharks, in the pool with fellow trainers or with with 7 month old Amélie who just this weekend got to try on her new goggles (and loved them). And on days like today compete with people who used to be completely foreign to me. I'm still that other guy too, but I do more things now and I love it.
Life is a series of small steps. Sometimes though we need to take bigger steps and see where we land. The start of the year is a great chance to take some new steps, then see where we are come December.