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ViF - Featured Motivational Quotes

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
Lou Holtz - College Coach Great

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Dave Scott - Six Time Ironman World Champion

Should I wear a wetsuit for a sprint Triathlon? - Victors' shared (humorous) words.

I Tested Positive for Neoprene But My Wetsuit Doesn't Think I Suck  
by Ismael Rodriguez

This story originally appeared in Mindset Triathlon's Triathlon's Toughest Sport: True Stories Told by Triathletes Making Their Case for the Swim, the Bike or the Run.

Victors' Shared Words -

I'm a new 'swimmer'. I state that as such because what I do in the pool hardly constitutes swimming. I decided to enter into the wonderful world of triathlon last year when I signed up for the Nautica New York City Triathlon. I felt there was plenty of time to learn how to swim in time for the July 2008 event. All I had to do was temper my fear of the deep water, learn the front crawl, and be competent enough to eventually look like the 'other' competitors, you know blend right in like I'd been doing this for a long time.

Well, November rolled by, so did December and so on... then I woke up one day in April and realized, "holy crap, you gotta learn how to swim, dude."

I eventually signed up for an adult swim class and was immediately struck with a sense of dread - "I can't do this." My fears were confirmed after the second class when I came to the stark realization that I suck at this. I was classified as a 'sinker' - my legs were about as buoyant as a sack of potatoes - the industrial sized pack. Undaunted, I soldiered on and with each class I got, well, worse. I decided to cycle to the pool weekday mornings before work. A 5:00 a.m. start, get to the pool at 5:30 a.m. Empty lane lines and a chance to strut my stuff without the embarrassment of the noisy splashes to disrupt the other real swimmers.

Then it happened: I completed a full lap. 25 meters without stopping.

One problem however: it was a week before the Nautica New York City Triathlon. But after that triumph of the lap I declared myself ready. So here was the deal: I'd done one full lap on my own and I felt I was ready to take on the mighty Hudson River and 1,500 meters!!! Note to self, there's a Visa commercial here:

Swim skills: 0.
Open water experience: 0.
Stupidity: Priceless.
Yes, stupidity, that one intangible that sets me apart from your average, run-of-the-mill triathlete - if there exists such a person. Now I was not completely incompetent. I had an ace in the hole. I'd done some homework on wetsuits. I'd read everything I could and asked a few experienced athletes the same question: "How buoyant is a wetsuit?"

After my research I was convinced I could make it happen and confident- sort of- that the wetsuit would help me float the distance (The Hudson River swim of the Nautica NYC Triathlon is famous for its current and consequent fast swim times- an athlete in the 2007 event completed the 1,500 meter swim in 9 minutes!).

Fast forward to July 20, 2008. My wave goes off at 6:11a.m. I jump into the salty onion soup that is the Hudson with it's jelly fish and who-the-heck-knows-what-else infested waters. I float. The gun goes off. The madness I'd seen in countless videos was now a reality. I set off. The current was real! I then flipped on my back and proceeded to 'kick and fin' for 1,475 meters. I then freestyled the last 25 - that 25 meter swim in the pool that I'd done a week out was not without purpose. As I was lifted out of the water by the volunteers I glanced back to see the distance that I had covered and thought out loud, "There can only be ONE HIGHLANDER!" and I let out a "barbaric yalp!" to the heavens. Triumph!

"Mighty Hudson, you disappoint me..is that all you had?" I then yelled out to the volunteers: "BRING ME YOUR FINEST MEATS AND CHEESES FOR I HAVE CONQUERED THE MIGHTY HUDSON!" At least I recall it was something like that...I finished the 40K bike and the 10K run through Central Park and as I approached the finish I reprised my "barbaric yalp", again to the heavens.

Soon after, on my way home, I reflected on my accomplishment. I'd done it. Pride was brimming. The feeling lasted through to the next morning as I accepted the accolades of my friends and co-workers ("You did what? You are crazy dude".)

Then something else happened. What did I do? I floated, that's what I did. My Blue Seventy wetsuit did the work, I was merely a passenger. I saw the press conference in my head after an intrepid reporter got a hold of the post-race blood test results. I'd tested positive for Neoprene and that little known substance, Yamamoto Rubber. I would be stripped of my finishers' medal and have to deal with the shame of having to step down from the podium of heroism. I'd have to look my friends in the face and say, "Well...everybody else was doing it..." and they would reply, "Yeah, but Ismael, we though you were different....."

Two months later (Jerseyman Sprint 9/08) I competed in my second triathlon. A beautiful reservoir swim. 1,000 meters of redemptive, non-current aided water. It would be different this time. I would be a hero. 1 hour later, I washed up on the beach. I glanced over at a row of annoyed, waiting athletes. All of which seemed to be saying, "dude, that swim....it's just not that into into you." Those athletes were awaiting their own race start. I'd actually delayed the start of a half-iron distance race that was to take off after the 'quick' sprint athletes were done. Sorry dudes. The following year (May 2009) that same race had the half-iron athletes go off first. The race directors weren't gonna take a chance in case 'plankton boy' returned for an encore performance.

I've since made my peace with sucking at swimming. I've gotten better, but not by much. That's ok though. Sucking at something has not ebbed my enthusiasm one ounce. Besides, I have no problem locating my bike in transition and I like that. I like that a lot. It's kinda of like leaving a stadium very late and having no problem finding your car. Who wants that aggravation? I suck and I'm proud that I suck. My wetsuit doesn't think I suck. My wetsuit thinks I'm a hero. And since it's the only thing out there with me, it's the only thing that matters. "That'll do wetsuit.....that'll do."

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