It's not unusual for me to think about sharks, all types of sharks when I set off for an ocean swim especially when the water gets deeper and darker underneath me.
Frequently I get asked (even though I'm an open water coach) if I'm scared of sharks? and the answer is YES! terrified if I was to encounter one.
Normally there is a lot of swim traffic ( people snorkelling, swimming, paddling ) I feel quite happy swimming alone. However, today was not one of those swim traffic kinds of days, by 400m into my swim from Manly to Shelly there were a few swimmers in the distance but close to me.
As the water darkened, I could feel my heart starting to race and my breathing starting to speed up, do I turn around? Should I hug the coast so if I need to get out I can? What was wrong with me I have done this swim a thousand times pull yourself together!
If your reading this you can probably relate to a similar feeling as this is not uncommon, even as an experienced swimmer of ocean swimming, you are not alone!
Treading water, I took a moment to take 10 deep breathes and allow the energy of the ocean to calm me and bring me back to why I set out on my journey today, my love for the ocean and swimming.
I could have hugged the coast but instead, I chose to stay in the darker water to dive deeper into awareness and swim with the emotions that were present.
First awareness was my stroke count, extremely high, and my kicking dear me I was like a speed boat!
Ok, giving myself a mental note of a slap in the face, my focus for the next 100 strokes was too slow and stretch each stroke and gentle kicking.
With Shelly beach in sight roughly 500m away, I felt my groove finally!
At that moment in all my swim history, I looked down, I had a 2m grey nurse shark swimming with me. Now I know they are the Labradors of the ocean but hey they are still wild and still a shark. Did I panic? NO, the opposite, I felt a calm presence wash over me, my fear melted away, and grateful for the moment of connection.
This beauty swam with me for 200m and before I knew it I was at my destination.
Swimming back to Manly was filled with so much love and gratitude. Would I feel the same way if I saw a bull shark or a great white shark???
I'm not sure but the only advice I can give is that sharks are there, they are always going to be there, so to appreciate your ocean swim and remember all the reasons you are out there.