This past weekend my wife, Cathy, slayed her swimming portion on the co-ed relay team in the 17th annual Dewey Beach Triathlon. The Team finished in the top 5 and I couldn’t be more proud of her not only because of her performance but for being my training partner all Summer. Cathy teaches swimming and helped me tremendously by continuing to encourage me when dystonia was taking over my body.
To understand, what that means, one must know the background of our swimming history. In 2001 when I had this crazy idea of competing in triathlons as a sidebar to college coaching, Cathy joined me in this quest. I can still remember the day when I completed my first ever mile swim at the Easton YMCA and calling Cathy at 6:30AM so excited to tell her the news. She was already an accomplished swimmer and I was just getting started. When we swam together, Cathy would lap me several times and I would try to keep up with her – It was great motivation to get better. Then the accident which changed everything on 9/25/2001. Swimming became my only escape from pain from all the twisting, spasms & cramping due to dystonia. The Silver Lining was I became a very good swimmer and over the next 9 months was cruising by Cathy. This eventually changed after brain surgery when I could no longer swim. The brain stimulation which was helping my dystonia had a side effect which would not allow me to use my legs to kick compounded with other symptoms made it virtually impossible to swim 10 feet. I tried and tried and Cathy encouraged me to try different strokes and techniques but nothing worked. This went on for over 3 years until we talked about turning my batteries off to swim. Trial and error and several weeks later, We discovered by turning off my right battery only I could swim with minimal dystonic symptoms but still no use of the legs. The quest together continued for the next 2 years, training my upper body to swim a 1/2 mile all the while being encouraged by my training partner!
This past May, Cathy decided to try a 1/2 mile ocean swim with a relay team. She was certainly ready and trained. I gave her advice, coaching but nothing teaches better than actually doing it. She went out too fast, panicked and bombed miserably. Her determination to improve, invest in a wetsuit and commit the entire Summer to conquering the ocean swim was now our Quest. With the triathlon 3 1/2 months away, We swam, trained and pushed each other to Get Better. I tell this story because my wife has been there for me during the darkest of dark days with dystonia, coaching and all the challenges that come from living with this obstacle and now was my chance to stand by her and celebrate her Amazing Accomplishment. I couldn’t be prouder of her and all she’s accomplished and for being my training partner or Better yet I’m her training partner!