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!