Why Do I Swim?
I’m 47 years old, and discovered my love for sports, particularly outdoor endurance sports, at age 40. My wife had given birth to our second son, and we got a treadmill to help us lose the post-pregnancy weight. I tried it and liked it, but soon discovered two things: I didn’t like working out indoors – even in the gym – nearly as much as in our great Northwest outdoors; and I wanted something competitive to hold my interest.
I took up triathlon and have now done about 15 of them. The highlight was competing in the Olympic distance in Lake Stevens a few years ago, before they cancelled it in favor of the 70.3. This year, my training buddy got really into running, and convinced me to try the Seattle and Mercer Island half marathons. Following those, I tried the LiveSTRONG 70-mile bike ride and then the PSBC Swim for Life. Now I’m hooked on going after longer distances and bigger challenges.
Swimming for me is such a healthy, graceful and peaceful sport. Healthy, because it’s low impact on me and on the earth; graceful, because you move fluidly through the water, hopefully without flailing or overtaxing any of your bodily systems; and peaceful because as I swim, I can forget about all the normal daily distractions of my life, and focus only on my thoughts. In the end, it is just the water and me….
I loved swimming in the 2009 Swim for Life event with 240 like-minded souls. It was a gorgeous morning, with friends old and new, a good challenge – I nearly gave up stricken with a leg cramp 2/3 of the way to Madison Park, but persevered through it – and in the end, was greeted with a warm beach, great coffee, and a feeling of having conquered a significant new challenge. Wow!
Why Do I Give Blood?
I’ve been giving blood all my life. This year, I switched to plasma, because PSBC asked me to do it. I’ve always believed that if I can help, and don’t have a good reason for not doing it, then it’s my responsibility to do it.
We’ve all seen the signs saying, “Imagine Saving a Life,” which is the Blood Center’s latest advertising campaign. While this is probably aimed at recruiting new donors, it makes me feel good whenever I see it or whenever I think about my donations. It feels as if I am personally responsible for saving not just a single life, but many lives every day. I find it easy to believe that many of my friends and neighbors who have been sick or injured have benefitted from my donation – even if they did not receive the exact blood that I gave.
Perhaps it is the ability to help others in the community who are least able – at that moment – to help themselves. Perhaps it is the fact that this is a way we can ensure there is help for us if we ever need it. But the most compelling reason, to me, is that it’s so easy – it requires no money, no more than an hour or two, and your body quickly regenerates whatever you give.
For all these reasons, I will continue to give, and I will continue telling my friends, my kids, and my workmates, how good it makes me feel. To life!