In this guest blog post, MySwimPro Ambassador Mina Chrys (@minachrys) shares how she got started with swimming at a young age, and how the sport helps her cope with difficult times in life, including the death of her aunt.
The title might sound a bit extreme, but there is a reason for it and I’ll tell you about it.
When I was around eight years old, my grandfather invited us to his house in Dallas, Texas. My parents took my three brothers and me for a three-week vacation there, one of the best of my life! The next year, when I was nine years old, my grandfather came to Mexico, picked my three brothers up, and took them to his house again for summer vacation, but he decided not to take me since dealing with a little “whiny” girl didn’t exactly sound like fun. Without my brothers I felt lost, and for a few days I just roamed around my house like a lost soul, bored, sad, and lonely.
My aunt, who lived at my house at that time, took it upon herself to try and lift my spirits, so she suggested enrolling me in a swimming course. We had always been members of a tennis and swimming club, but all I can remember at that time was me, on the shallow side of the pool, wearing my floaties, looking at the older kids swimming and enjoying the unknown territory in the deep side of the pool.
I can still remember how the water seemed to be darker on the other side. That was unexplored, dangerous, shark-infested territory and I could never ever venture in there! But back to my life-saving aunt. She decided to take me to my first swimming lesson and my parents, who were desperate to get me out of my deep separation anxiety depression, consented to it. So we went to buy a swimming suit, goggles, and a cap, and I went to sleep early not knowing that the next day would change my life forever.
Finding My Love for Swimming
When I first started the swimming course, I remember struggling with my breathing. I would catch my breath, hold it in and then when it was time to breathe again my lungs were still full! It was hard for me to learn to control my exhale in the water without immediately trying to breathe again, so I developed a great lung capacity!
What I enjoyed most was the way my coach would combine different strokes to the workouts wouldn’t be boring. That’s when I discovered that I really like swimming breaststroke, though I still have to perfect my technique.
I can remember feeling really good in the water, while other sports were always pretty challenging to me.
A Lifelong Sport
Since then, I have never really left the water! However, I didn’t have much time to be disciplined with swimming until a few years ago. I started making time for myself, began swimming regularly and it felt like finding a lost friend.
It was around this time I came across MySwimPro and it was a perfect complement to my training. I started taking it seriously.
I use the MySwimPro app in every possible way! At first I simply recorded the workouts my coach set for me, but after he left the club I started trying the training plans. I combine workouts from the training plans with the Workout of the Day, so there’s always a variety of swimming in my life. One thing I like about the app is that it adjusts your split times when you have consistently been improving. If you don’t notice your improvement, MySwimPro does!
However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on my swimming routine. I stopped swimming altogether and am jogging, biking and doing indoor dryland workouts. Thankfully these three activities aren’t exactly unknown to me since there have been times that I’ve done each of them in an almost exclusive manner.
I’m also working at home and it is sometimes a little stressful being in the same place all day so I cherish those times I get to exercise outdoors. It hasn’t been that hard to feel close to others during this time since I’m part of such an amazing global swimming community! I know I will get back in the water eventually.
Navigating Life’s Challenges in the Water
Swimming has always helped me put things in perspective. I feel like it works for me like meditation works for others; if I dip into the water thinking of trouble, doubts or questions, they are either solved by the time I step out of the water, or at least they don’t bother me so much.
Last year my aunt passed away. Her last days were long and filled with anxiety. I can’t say I went swimming every day during that time, but those few visits to the pool helped me make sense of my emotions. When I had the chance, I went to the pool at a time when no one else was there, and I could just forget about home for a while. I visited the pool a few days after she passed, and it gave me a warm welcome.
So here is a thank you, and a tribute to my aunt. Thanks to her encouragement that summer, I am a saner person.