If nothing else, I am trier. I am a Try Athlete who loves trying new sports and activities and who tries not to let my lack of ability or skill or my size and shape (I am not a skinny dipper) stop me from enjoying sport and indeed, life.
Having been physically disabled as a child and 354lbs and depressed as an adult, I now use being active to add years to my life and life to my years. I have lost a lot of weight (although I have regained some of it), made so many new friends and enjoyed experiences and opportunities that I would never have dreamt possible. I have had the privilege of running, cycling and swimming (and a whole host of other sports) with Olympians and inspirational local champions, but I now prepare for my biggest sporting challenge of late.
Over the past year or so, life has thrown some curveballs my way and they have knocked both myself and my confidence, but I have gotten back up and and I will never give up.
I have, in the last few months, learned how to swim freestyle (who knew that it would be so easy?) and with musculoskeletal and excess weight problems, swimming has become my current go to activity. Not only is it helping me to lose weight (although is anyone else famished after a long swim?), it also helps to calm and soothe me. It is quite difficult to contemplate the worries of life while being focused on remembering to breathe while the rhythmic nature of swimming helps somewhat to drown out the negative voices in my head.
I have finally learned, at the ripe old age of 45, to love swimming with my 2.5km swim for Swimathon the culmination of months of training and hours of fun in the pool.
And this summer, in partnership with Simply Swim, I am going to try and not drown (or freeze) as I leave the relative comfort of the pool and take on the challenge of becoming an open water swimmer.
Over the next few months, you can follow my progress here and at my blog www.howmanymiles.co.uk with my primary goal being the 2 Mile open swim in Loch Lomond at the Great Scottish Swim in August.
I will also be be looking to make the transition (sorry about the pun) from try athlete to open water triathlete and I hope to encourage and even inspire some of you to join me.
In July, I will be competing (maybe not the most appropriate word) in the Civil Service Open Water Championships (everyone loves a trier) in Norwich and I will be looking to improve my running and cycling in time for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships. No, I am not thinking that I can take on Europe’s elite triathletes; instead, I aim to compete in Triathlon Scotland’s Tri in the Park. A special Glasgow 2018 triathlon event for the whole family and my first triathlon that is not pool based.
It will not be easy and although I will have expert advice and be equipped with some of Simply Swim’s swimming kit, it will be my own determination, dedication and discipline that will get me over the line (or past the buoy).
I also want to show that swimming is a sport for all and I want to hear from all of you what swimming means to you and what tips you advise to help me or others make an open water swimming experience a fun and preferably safe one.
Author - Stephen Morrison
Formerly unhealthy & unhappy at 354lbs, I now enjoy life as a try athlete and physical activity advocate & blogger for various organisations.
Fancy winning a Simply Swim goodie bag to get you started on your own swimming journey? Just comment below or use the hashtag #StephenSimplySwims on Twitter for your chance to win! One lucky winner be will be chosen at random on the 1st June. Find the full terms & conditions here.