Going Outside Your Comfort Zone - The IRONMAN Swim

Posted On Feb 11, 2015 By Tom Holland

Going Outside Your Comfort Zone: The IRONMAN Swim

I was not on the swim team as a kid. My only swim training growing up consisted of body surfing in the ocean during the summer vacation months. So, like so many other people who start doing triathlons, I was absolutely petrified to do the swim leg of the race. As I wrote in my book, "The 12-Week Triathlete," to me, swimming is not a sport; it's a means to keep from drowning.

Yet, that intense fear of attempting to swim 2.4 miles for the first time in a crowd of several thousand punching and kicking bodies is what made the training for it so incredibly exciting, and the completion of it so incredibly rewarding. I chose to do something way out of my comfort zone and I did it. It's called self-efficacy - Confidence that comes from being successful at challenging situations. It's an incredibly simple yet powerful concept: By going outside our comfort zones and "surviving," we become stronger in more ways than one.

Notice I didn't say that I conquered my fear of swimming during an IRONMAN race. Yes, it's considerably less today than it was during that first 140.6-mile race in New Zealand, but it's still there, even after twenty-one IRONMAN race finishes. So much can and does go wrong during the swim, but my ultimate goal is always to finish the race and, each time I do, I increase that self-efficacy a little bit more.

Here are some quick video clips from my current swim training sessions:

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