I love the Ironman Triathlon but sure hate swimming

The other day a newly-minted triathlete emailed me and said, I love the Ironman Triathlon, but sure hate swimming.

She’s not alone.

Since the first heady days of the Ironman, there has been a love-hate relationship between people smitten by the call of the Ironman finish line, and the 2.4-mile swim in the open water.


–The Ironman swim scares them. They are simply out of their element once they are over their heads and can no longer feel solid ground beneath their feet.

–They dread the loss of control, because we all like to control things and once the gun goes off to start the race, we have no choice but to enter the fray and hope for the best.

–They hate the banging and crashing and being trapped in a seething mass of writhing, wetsuit-clad bodies all trying to find their own little patch of clear water.

–They hate the tight wetsuits. the leaking goggles, the morning sun glaring in their eyes every time they turn their head to breath, and the voice yelling from the kayak, Go right! Go right! You’re way off course!

I love the Ironman Triathlon but sure hate swimming

The swim you dread may not be so bad.

–Most of all, they hate the endless, mindless pool-laps they had to do for all those months to get ready for a swim they loved to hate.


Almost fifty years ago, I was in the first all-male high-school class in a city of two million to have typing added as a compulsory course.

It was virtually unheard of. Typing was for all those cute high school girls who would go on to become secretaries, not for us macho guys.

We all thought it was a pretty big joke, and I dreaded whose tests where we had to type about four paragraphs without looking at the typewriter keys.

Mrs. Emerson made us learn the home keys…ASDF and JKL; until we knew them in our sleep. What good would it do me to learn a skill I would never use?

Or so I thought.

How was I to know that desk-top computers, lap-tops, Smart phones, and I-pads would one day connect our world.

How was I to know that the ASDF and JKL; typewriter home keys would be the very same as they are on my desk-top computer 50 years later?

How could I possibly know the impact Mrs. Emmerson’s teachings would one day have?

Thanks to her, writing six books and hundreds of articles on my computer was made so much easier. For five decades what she taught me, has stayed with me, and I will be forever grateful.

Who knows, I may have given up in frustration if I had to hunt and peck my way through the first book.


Of all the things you will learn on your Ironman Journey, swimming is most likely the most valuable skill, and the one that will surely stay with you for the rest of your life.

You just never know when those endless hours in the pool, and the dreaded 2.4-mile Ironman swim might pay dividends you never dreamed of.

For instance, like the woman who was standing on a lake-shore several years ago when a couple tipped their canoe 200 meters from land and neither could swim.

She was an Ironman and swam out and got them both ashore or surely they would have died that day.

What if she had been like so many people I have run into over the years who say the same thing… I would love to do the Ironman, but I could never do the swim?

Funny how things turn out.

There are many obstacles on the journey to the Ironman finish line. It is overcoming these obstacles against all odds that make it such an epic and life-changing accomplishment.

I can almost guarantee, the Ironman swim you dread and hate so much, will provide one of the greatest thrills of your life when you confront it–and conquer it–and reach solid ground at the end of the swim.


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