Today’s post is also from Andrew.
Why I Swim
I started swimming May 1, 2015 as part of Prader-Willi Awareness month. ,I like most dads, want to be a good example for my son, so I thought swimming for the month of May would be a good way to show dedication to living a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are going to be very important for Kemett and it’s going be very hard for me to ask him to live a healthy lifestyle if I am not. I was dedicated to swimming for a month for sure.
Here I am over a year later and I am still swimming. I really feel I have gotten way more than I expected out of it. I feel like I have established a healthy life style and an exercise that I will be able to carry on for years, as an example for Kemett. I have lost over 20 pounds and feel very good about myself. I am actually very close to or faster than I was in high school (15+ years ago), which I think is a statement to my overall health. I also think I have received a vast amount of, what I would call, mental health benefits I did not expect to.
First, I feel like swim practice is very therapeutic. I swim for an hour and fifteen minutes, four to five times a week at 5:45 am. A large part of practice is spent with my head underwater with my own thoughts. I have internalized and processed many thoughts related to my son during this time. I think about him constantly, sometimes it’s how I can help him, or how I can support him, other times it is fear for his future, or concerns over challenges he will face. One of my coaches loves to say that “Swimming is about being comfortable being uncomfortable.” One of the thoughts I have in practice or even during races, as pain starts setting in, is that my pain is temporary. Kemett one day will have the pain of being hungry and that pain will never go away for him. This really drives me, not that the pain I deal with will be anything compared to his, but struggling and fighting through gives me hope that he will be able to as well.
I also developed quite a support network. Many people I swim with have asked about Prader-Willi Syndrome and have been very supportive. The triathlon team came out to our One Small Step 5k last year. I wanted to hang a flyer at the pool and next thing I know I have a large group of tri athletes and junior tri athletes at our 5k. They really upped the competition level from the previous year. Being a special needs parent can be very lonely at times and gestures like this mean so much to my family.
Finally, Kemett is very aware I swim. He has come to my meets and cheered me on. He acts very proud of me and likes to chant “go daddy go” and “Swim fast indoors/outdoors!” (Not entirely sure why he likes to specify if I am swimming indoors or outdoors.) It is very reaffirming that I am setting up fitness as an important aspect of life.
I don’t know if I will always swim, but right now it seems like thing for me to be doing. For my own health and as an example for Kemett.
For our virtual fundraiser, my #15forthe15th challenge is that I’m going to swim 15 miles the week of October 15.
Remember to join our event, and let us know how you will participate in this challenge!
Thanks for your support and tomorrow we will talk about Kemett!
Andrew ready for the backstroke!
Kemett watching Daddy swim!