Every week when I create this blog I try to focus on one thing about my podcast guest that really struck a chord with me.
When this week’s guest switched from wetsuit to skins, she was so convinced there was no going back she gave her wetsuit away! As a confirmed skin swimmer, I love that.
But that’s not what I want to focus on this week.
Instead I want to focus on being a swim activist.
Because when Liz found that one of her favourite swim events had stopped running, she took over the role of Race Director to enable it to continue. This was a voluntary unpaid role, that involved intense project management, and spanned months of time. The event was the Fat Salmon swim.
This made me think of all the events we do, big and small, that rely on volunteers to be able to happen at all. Last week I helped someone I know out by volunteering to be a marshal on a local duathlon. It wasn’t a tough role, but it was an early start, it took hours, and essentially it was quite boring. But without me, and another 20 people like me, the event could not have taken place.
I was a bit taken aback when one of the participants said “thanks marshal” as they ran past. It was utterly unexpected, but once all the runners had passed me, and about 20% had thanked me, it got me thinking. It was nice to be thanked. For my contribution to be acknowledged, not just by the race organisers, but by the people who ultimately were benefitting from me being there.
Thinking about what Liz did, to take on the organisation of a big event with a history and a legacy, and to do this for 9 years, is something remarkable, I think. How many of us would be prepared to do that to keep an event we love going?
I love that she gained celebrity from it. Well deserved too. But for all the participants who knew her and appreciated her in the role, there must have been many more who had no idea who was the driving force behind the Fat Salmon.
From a swimming point of view, I’m in awe of Liz’s marathon swimming ability. From a citizenship perspective I take my hat off to her. The contribution she made to the experience of all the swimmers who took part over those 9 years must be vast.
Things we talked about
Fat Salmon race, Mercer Island Lake Washington, Puget Sound, Little Red Lighthouse swim Hudson river, Portland Bridge swim, Swim Trek, Strait of Gibraltar swim, Killary Fjord, Tennessee River Valley swim, Ice Swimming Championships