The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was taking just one hour, five days a week just for me. Everybody wanted to claim that hour — the wife, the kids, the boss, the State (jury duty), even the dog (“play with me”). Selfishly, I decided I wanted to swim for that hour to cultivate a fitness routine that would last a lifetime. Eventually everyone started to leave my hour alone. “Don’t bother to ask him. He’s going to be swimming.” It worked out, and they all managed and thrived without my hour.
I started my daily swims after I graduated from college, and finally thought I had some time. Fortunately, my first breathless swims were in a very crowded university swimming pool. I had to learn to swim fast, so nobody would dive in over my head and take my lane. As long as I kept moving fast, the lane was mine. So I kept moving.
Along the way the university water polo coach offered me some stroke instruction. I had to unlearn techniques I’d learned as a kid in Survival Swimming instruction. “Don’t reach so deep.” “Your goal as a fitness swimmer is not to conserve your energy until you are saved. Try for a personal best time every time you get in the pool.”
Eventually, I lost interest in only looking at the bottom of swimming pools, and started investigating open water swimming. I found a group on the web that facilitated a race from Europe to Asia. I thought, “that sounds fun. I’ll try that”. So I swam the Hellespont and instead of timing out in my first open water swim and getting pulled out of one of the heaviest shipping lanes in the world, I finished and got a bronze medal for men my age. My name is also currently engraved on a silver platter in Bermuda as a first place winner among men my age in an annual swim there. Plus, I just finished a swim from Britain to the U.S. (albeit the British Virgin Islands to the U.S. Virgin Islands: from the top of Virgin Gorda to Saint John). I saw so much sea life thanks to the extraordinary visibility and comfort of my Barracuda goggles.
My guilty pleasure: remembering the first time I went to the store to buy a business suit, and was told by the clerk that I’d need a suit with an “athletic cut” since my waist was so much smaller than my chest. Yes, I’d developed a swimmer’s body.
Over the years, there have been so many excuses not to swim. I almost never have succumbed when my lazy mind said, “naw, not today”. In fact some of my best memories have happened on days when I had a good excuse not to swim. I remember walking with bare feet through 4 inches of snow to get to an outdoor pool. The steam was rising from the pool and allowed almost no visibility, but once in the warm water I was swimming through the vapors and thought, “this is pretty close to perfect”.
I’m pleased to say that that life got better when I discovered Barracuda USA. Their goggles adjust to fit my face perfectly so the days of uncomfortable, leaky goggles are over. Thanks Barracuda!
Keep swimming and stay healthy! Buy Barracuda USA!
BARRACUDA Triathlete Ray Botelho cruised to victory Friday at the HITS Series 1/2 Ironman in Ocala, FLorida
He lead wire to wire with a time of 4:15:51. Look for him in the Ironman North American Championship in Texas coming up in May.
Yeah, I was that kid. The kid who fell in love with sports or, more so, thrill of competition but, wasn’t highly gifted. I tried hard but never played a varsity sport in high school. In fact, I got cut from the 8th grade basketball team, had one 8th grade wrestling match and lost 12-0 and scored one point the entire season in 9th grade basketball. It was a beautiful free throw though – should have seen it.
I worked hard at basketball in high school and played two years of JV. In one game as a sophomore, when taking the ball out of bounds to throw it in and start the game back up…instead of throwing the ball in…I took off dribbling in bounds, from out of bounds!! Why? No idea. My brain just snapped. The ref didn’t know what to do. He’s never seen anything like it. He just blew the whistle and yelled, “Hey, you can’t do that!”
As a senior in a small NAIA college in Kentucky, I decided to go out for track having never run competitively in my life. Here’s a tip – don’t ever do that – don’t go out for a sport as a senior that you’ve never attempted, unless you want to make a fool of yourself. At one large invitational at Eastern KY University, as I ran the two mile, (8 laps) I noticed the leaders getting pretty far ahead of me. Then they were so far ahead of me that they were actually, behind me! Oh no!! Probably in the history of track and field, no one had ever been lapped in an 8 lap race. Well, it happened. Embarrassed I crossed the finish line after everyone and still had a lap to run.
Fast forward 30+ years and I’m running once again. It’s a 5K…that followed a swim and bike. There were 300 yards left to the finish. I was three feet behind the #1 ranked triathlete in the nation in my age group. I’d closed down what was about a 500 yard lead he had off the bike. It was the USA Triathlon National Championships in Burlington, VT. Just behind me, chasing me was a five-time National Champion and a silver medalist at Worlds. How did I get in this place? Seriously, I’m 300 yds. from becoming a National Champion in a legit US Championship?
After college I’d continued to run. 10Ks. Half-marathons, marathons and even a few ultramarathons. Then, I watched the Hawaiian Ironman on TV. Then I met a triathlete. Then I became one. I trained and raced for 20 years, swimming, biking, running and racing countless miles. From sprint distance to ironman distance, I loved ever minute and mile. I kept improving and getting faster even though I got older. I was setting PRs in my early 50s. And there I was…slowly but surely passing the #1 ranked triathlete in the nation. Though I was hurting more than ever, I found one more gear, beating him to the finish line becoming the National Champion at the sprint distance. The next year, on Team USA, I raced at the ITU Age Group World Championships in London and out of 95 guys from 50+ nations, I finished 6th, (first of 15 from Team USA.)
Hard work, passion, vision, staying teachable and a bit of natural gifting from God, have allowed me to accomplish more than I could have ever dreamed. If you’d told me after I got lapped in that track meet that someday, I’d be a National Champ and 6th in the World, well, I’d have told you that you were crazy.
I’ve found some amazing products and companies along my journey that I believe in and who have helped me tremendously. Barracuda USA is one of those great companies. I use their goggles and products and love them. They have high quality gear and fantastic customer service. I owe a huge thank you to Barracuda for helping me to accomplish what I have.
Hey, you…yeah you…what’s your dream? Go for it. Give it your all because you just might be amazed at what you can do!!
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