By Jen Azevedo – General Manager

I learned to swim when I was four years old.


We had a huge Jacuzzi, and I could swim from side to side.  When I was a little older, we put a pool in our backyard, and I could swim then too.  Competent?  Sure.  Quality? Eh…

Fast forward a few decades, and I’m on a beautiful afternoon bike ride through the SCV with none other than our own Melanie Vovk.  During a particularly grueling uphill climb, she suggested we do an Ironman.  By the top of the hill, she had me convinced I could do it.  I knew it would be tough, and the swim sounded the most daunting.  I knew I would need more than one guide to help me along my journey, and so I started Masters Swim at Paseo Club.

Twice a week, long before the sun came up, I met a group of dedicated (crazy) swimmers who knew what to do in the water.  I did not.  But the patience and dedication of the Masters coach was undeniable and slowly it became a little less desperate.  The warmup no longer felt like it would be the end of me, and I started enjoying the silence and repetition of the swim.  Never did I expect to actually like churning out lap after lap, but it became easier to continue the habit.

While training, I had beach swims, lake swims, a Half Ironman and plenty of alone time in the pool.  But returning to my early mornings was a non-negotiable component of my training.  I had a great outing at Wildflower, hitting a half Ironman distance that included a swim in Lake San Antonio in Paso Robles, CA.  Despite being in a lake, with no visibility and certainly with no lane lines to guide me, I missed the camaraderie of my Masters friends.  But I crushed the swim compared to previous outings, and finally felt like I could be considered a decent swimmer.  I knew I was ready.

The morning of November 16, 2014, I hopped into the water with 2500 other triathletes to see just what I was made of.  The cannon exploded, and we were off.  Swimming in the Tempe Town River, we had a mild swim experience compared to some Ironman races.  But over the course, I saw swimmers with some serious struggles.  Some heading for the protection of the volunteers, while others were hit and kicked in the turbulent waters.  One guy had a bloody nose and had lost his goggles.

I made it through the water with a respectable 1:17:49, one third of the way through my race.  I would eventually finish at the end of the day, with the swim miles behind me.  It was a pretty amazing day, and I owe my friend Melanie a huge debt for convincing me I could do it.

A few years have passed, and it’s time to get back in the water.  I’m not looking forward to the pain of starting, but I am excited to find that rhythm again!


Masters coaches – here I come!