Swimming Out of Water: One Olympian's Story

With the 2012 Olympics fresh on our minds, we may be more sensitive to the personal and financial costs borne by these athletes and their families for the chance to stand on the medals podium.

Unless you are a swimming enthusiast, the name Catherine Garceau may not ring a bell. But in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics she won a bronze medal. You can experience the journey from training to champion, to life in the shadows in her new book, Swimming Out of Water. There’s very little she leaves out from the intensity of training and the havoc it wrecks on one’s eating habits and overall health to her path to healthy living after competitive swimming.

Here’s an excerpt from a chapter in which Catherine describes what it is like to need help but feel that no one is listening.

 

Inundated by Grace

“And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—

we know that we have what we asked

 

As the sun kept rising, I started screaming for help.

 

“HEEEELLLLLP!”

Just an echo.

 

“Anyone? HEEELLLLP!”

Just an echo.

 

Was I too early? Perhaps. Surely I would hear someone within the next hour.

I was sure I didn’t have much more time left before my rescue, so I sat down, grabbed my journal and pencil, and flipped the pages past the prayer I had written for protection at the onset of the night. I looked up at the rising sun, smiled, took a deep breath, and looked back down at the blank page. So many memories and insights seemed worthy of noting down, especially the clear answer I had received to my question regarding purpose.

Why am I here? Stuck on this ledge, stuck in this body, drowning in emotions and darkness? Where is the freedom and love?

Even though I was convinced that the realizations I had made were grounded in truth, paradoxically, I still doubted my ability to succeed. How was I to get all of this done? I still had no clue. Sure, I was ready to have faith in God, but to really believe, I felt I needed an experience of God. When Joseph Campbell, expert in mythology and world religion was asked the question “Do you have faith?”, Campbell answered “I don’t need faith. I have experience.” If experiences that transcend the ordinary allowed us to have a connection with and the experience of the divine, then I sure was ready for mine.

Drawing from my success of making it to the Olympics, starting with the end target in mind and working my way backwards was my default mode of going after new goals. But that was my old way of doing things and this dark night of the soul had certainly highlighted shortcomings to this method. Moving forward in my quest of realizing new visions, adding a large dose of faith and spirituality to the mix could not be left behind.

But first things first. Before I could take any action, I had to get myself off this ledge and back to safety.

“HEEEELLLLLP! Please! Anyone! HEEELLLLLP!”

Again, just an echo.

 

 

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