I woke up this morning, tired – and having cancelled my usual Monday a.m. swim. I’ve been a little unmotivated lately. I didn’t realize that it was International Women’s Day.
And then, as usually happens when I spend time scrolling the socials for news, opportunities, and a much needed dopamine hit, I started to see a whack of posts, memes, diatribes, confessionals, laments, and promotions heralding THE DAY. Not to be left out, I thought about a post that I’ve been pondering a while about something I’ve really noticed in my open water swimming journey, and I decided to bloody well write it before the inspiration faded, as it has so many times during the last few months when I’ve had something to say, and then didn’t in the end. Meh. Covid.
As a relative newcomer to this open water life, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that women – or SWIMMEN (if I may coin a word) – are the backbone AND child-bearing hips of open water swimming. My training partners have mostly been women. My biggest cheerleaders are women. My support teams have mostly been comprised of women. When I planned my Christina Lake swim last fall, 5 women appeared ready to help. I meet women when I travel to events. Sometimes, we sit on the school bus to the start line and encapsulate our entire swimming history in 4 minutes, and then we’re friends. For life. The upper echelon of this community also seems committed to support and share – interacting through the channels that connect us through this weird time in the world. Jaimie Monahan has commented on some of my posts, which flummoxes me, because if I met her in person, I would probably die a messy fan-girly death.
I have never felt marginalized or disaffected within the open water swimming community. The connections I’ve made through events, training, and even my social media presence have largely been with amazing and awesome women, who sometimes reach out just to extend a wave of support. The power of this community is that it is free of boundaries, free of bullshit, and full of heartfelt support. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever reached out to me, I hope you know how much it’s meant.
Here’s where I name some amazing SWIMMEN so shout these names RIGHT OUT LOUD and you can too: AS LOUD AS WE CAN:
Jaimie Monahan, Ali Gartland, Ella Chloe Foote, Chloe McCardel, Emily Epp, Deanne Steven, Debbie Collingwood, Suzanne Welbourn, Sarah Thomas, Beth French, Lynne Cox, Elaine Davidson, Alina Warren, Joanne Malar, Amber Honeybaker, Catherine Breed, and many, many others.
And let us honour:
- the women who cross Channels
- the women who cross Channels several times (my goodness)
- the women who dream of crossing Channels
- the women who support paddle
- the women who drive the boats
- the women who get their boat licenses the day before a swim so they CAN drive the boat and support their nieces
- the women who share a lane
- the women who can handle the cold
- the women in the hot tub, laughing
- the women who lend a cap when yours rips
- the women who lifeguard
- the women who volunteer
- the women who drive their daughters to swim practice
- the women who make Rice Krispie squares for their daughters’ swim meets
- the women who swim through difficult times
- the women who are just starting out
- the women who break records, and barriers, in this sport and all others
We need more than just a day to remember and honour our commitments, contributions, and responsibilities, but let’s take these precious 24 hours and stand with each other, trailblazers and newbies alike and those in between. Or swim with each other. Just don’t touch my feet.
I won’t miss my other swims this week.
Strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. And may we swim with them, always.