Join the swim
June 14, 2015: together with two RiskCo colleagues I jump into the fresh water of the Singel in Utrecht. For a moment I question my reasons for doing this. The water feels ice cold, and the finish two kilometres downstream seems very far away.
About seven months earlier, we stumbled upon the initiative Spieren voor Spieren (in English: Muscles for Muscles). Spieren voor Spieren organizes an annual swimming contest to raise money for the muscular disease FSHD. Bart, Marlien, Klaas and I decided to participate. We gladly exchanged our desk chairs and technical puzzles for a physical challenge. RiskCo was happy to support us: RiskCo’s management paid for the enrolment costs and our colleagues helped to raise money.
As part of my New Year’s resolution I started to train twice a week in the swimming pool. The last time I took a swimming class was over twenty years ago. Soon, Marlien joined me.
After months of training, we were able to swim the two kilometres in the pool – a victory. Meanwhile, our swimming endeavour had completely taken over all lunch break conversations. Apart from bets on who of us would first cross the finish line, we made bets on who could raise the most money. Klaas won this bet. However, Klaas injured his shoulder shortly before the race and was no longer able to participate. All the while, the event was increasingly taking shape: Dutch celebrities signed up, and the event was to be broadcasted live on national television.
Finally, the day arrives. The first hundred meters in the Singel and wearing a tight wetsuit feel quite strange. It is hard to stay on track without the guidance of the reassuring black line on the bottom of the swimming pool, but encouraged by the music and optimistic cheers of the crowd, we paddle on. I realize how beautiful Utrecht truly is, now that I view it from the canal. The cold water is fresh and cooling. Once my muscles are warmed up, I gain speed. Via the prison and past the city theatre, we swim to the park where our colleagues, friends and family are waiting for us with music and beer.
About 800 meters before the finish, I get cramp in my legs. The last meters I swim only using the power in my arms. Suddenly, I am very grateful to have healthy muscles which enable me to participate in physical events like this.
Once I reach the finish I am very happy to finally relieve the cramp in my legs by stretching them. However, I do still look a bit wonky in my finish pictures as a result of the remaining pain in my calves. But my face shows joy, thanks to the many colleagues that are cheering for me. Swimming those two kilometers has been quite a challenge, but I am very proud of the money we were able to raise with Team RiskCo: 1682 euros!