There are a lot of things about the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim that are intimidating. Just completing a one mile swim period (not to mention the crazy 10k swimmers!) is difficult but to add on the challenging qualities of the GSL it’s no small task. The lake located just outside of Utah’s capital city is is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere with water that is 5 times saltier than the ocean. It’s also hard to swim in because, unlike other open water bodies, it’s shoreline doesn’t support vegetation, so there are no big trees to sight off of while swimming (which keeps you in the right direction). Nevertheless, a group of 25 or so intrepid swimmers get together each year to tackle what they refer to as the “devil lake” and for the most part they all manage to conquer their watery foe.
I am one such swimmer and this year marks the 5th time I have completed the GSLOW race. I say that while admitting I am no great athlete. However, I have developed a strategy which not only has helped me finish but may be helpful to the Zim’s blog readers as they make and keep their resolutions and goals. The key is to make the big, small. Looking at the one mile swim it can feel daunting and even as I swim my mind will play tricks on me. I call it the ‘swim treadmill’ effect and it can really feel that way- like I’m not making any progress but swimming into a void. Of course, I am moving forward but especially with nothing to sight in the GSL it can be very discouraging looking at the buoys in the water that never seem to arrive.
Thankfully the buoys do arrive and what helps me keep going, like I said, is to set a series of smaller goals and pay less attention to the daunting larger task. So I count strokes. 25 breast stroke, 50 freestyle (front crawl), 25 breast. This helps because I may feel like I can’t get to that buoy but I can do 25 more strokes, 50 more strokes. I’ve been told professional open water swimmers often use this technique to help them get through long swims such as swimming the English Channel, so it’s a method that really works.
Isn’t this how life so often is? It can feel daunting, impossible but if we focus on the smaller achievements things work out for the greater goal in the end? Think about an artist with a painting. Completing the whole image may feel overwhelming but if they focus on one smaller segment, and then another and one more before too long the beautiful image is finished.
What about you? Have you experienced this phenomenon of splitting up your goal setting? It’s certainly helped me achieve my dreams as it has for many other Zim’s employees and athletes. We’d love to hear your story in the comments section.
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