Have you ever thought it would be fun to swim 5 miles across a lake? Although I have swum across smaller lakes, 5 miles seems a bit much for me. Heck, that’s over twice the distance of an Ironman Triathlon swim.
My friend thought it would be fun. She signed up for a 5 mile race as part of the Lake Minnetonka Challenge on July 28th. My friend completed the race with pizzazz. Her goal time was 3 hours. She crossed the finish line at 3:01. I am impressed.
I was along side her every stroke of the way. My husband and I served as her required escort boat.
An earlier blog post asked for suggestions on how to cheer lead a swimmer across open water. Since a swimmer’s ears are in the water, I feared typical verbal encouragement would not be enough. Thank you to everyone that offered suggestions. Here is what I ended up doing, and what seemed to work the best.
Forms of encouragement:
- 2 Mylar helium balloons: a dolphin tied to the front of the canoe and a sun tied to the back
- 2 megaphones
- A blue curly wig
- A clown horn that sounded like a loud squeezie toy
- Signs with sayings of encouragement and pictures from family and friends
- Plastic cow bell
- Pirates of the Caribbean water bottle used as a float for her Gatorade bottle
- Slider whistles
My friend’s ears were covered by water for 99.9% of the race. She could not hear the horn, whistles, or bells unless she was taking a break and treading water.
Visual encouragement worked the best. She really enjoyed the helium balloons even before the race started. I put on the blue curly wig half way through the race. While she was still swimming, I saw the smile on her face when she noticed my blue hair.
The best form of encouragement was the signs from family and friends. About two weeks before the race, we contacted her close friends and family and asked for sayings and pictures that would motivate her during the race. We asked that they not tell her. We were hoping the signs would be a surprise.
Seven people sent us a total of 36 signs. They included such gems as “Go Big or Go Home,” “Never, never, never, give up,” “Kick. Kick. Kick. Splashbomb!” and “Wine for thought…For every mile you can drink 3 glasses of merlot.” The pictures were equally fantastic.
At any given time, 4 of these signs were visible on the side of the canoe. When we noticed she had seen the signs, we would change them. At the end of the race, we gave her a binder with all of them.
She was amazed and overwhelmed by the signs. Although her friends and family couldn’t be in the water with her, they were there in spirit, cheering her on. The signs were the best form of encouragement we could have provided.
Do you know someone who is trying to do something challenging? What can you do to offer your support? Leave your idea in the comments below.
Kate Meadows says
What a tremendous show of friendship, creativity and just the right amount of humor here. Your friend is so lucky to have you. If I ever did a five-mile swim (another life, maybe) I would ask you to be my boat driver, too. =)
Astrid Bryce says
Aww, that’s sweet. I really enjoyed helping her out. Seeing her reactions to each new item was really fun. Canoeing across a beautiful lake is also not a bad way to spend a morning. Let me know if, in your next life, you want help with an event.
What a terrific idea the signs were! Good job!!!! And they’re even better when you gave them to her–a permanent memento of her accomplishment. Awesome!
Astrid Bryce says
Thanks for the comment. Just yesterday my friend told me that during the swim she was thinking about how grateful she was to have such amazing people in her life. I feel lucky to have helped create such a moment.