In this guest blog, MySwimPro Ambassador Diego De Los Rios shares how swimming helped him resurface during a tough time in his life.
My journey with swimming started with me sinking at the bottom of the pool. I was 6 years old and I was drowning at a cocktail party. My dad taught me the basics after that, and he enrolled me in swimming classes.
After my 8th birthday, he passed away. My swimming coach, Amaury Osorio, would become the closest person I had to a role model. And swimming was the compass that kept me on track.
I swam as far as high school in my hometown of Cartagena, Colombia. I was mostly a sprinter focused on freestyle and butterfly. I managed to go to 4 nationals before stopping at age 16.
Reconnecting with the Water
Years passed by and I was living in Jacksonville, Florida. Once again, I found myself sinking, but this time, in depression.
The Beijing Olympics were on at that time. Dara Torres, at 40 years old, won a close finish to place 2nd in the 50 meter free.
I was overweight and out of shape, but that race was the awakening that I needed!
I was lucky to find a pool nearby. It’s funny, but the name of the pool is called “The Good Shepherd.” The water was calling me!
In 2009, I set out for my first open water race. At the time, all I wanted was to cross the finish line. Little did I know that I would come out of the water in 2nd place overall!
How I Train Today
That first race got me hooked on open water swimming. Instead of sprinting like I did when I was young, these days I mostly focus on open water and enjoying the sea.
I swim nearly every morning at the 12th street ocean lifeguard station in Miami Beach. Every day I see something amazing! In the future I would love to do a marathon swim or a channel crossing.
I help others get over their fears of ocean swimming and help them get more familiar with all types of conditions. I want to show people that the ocean is a welcoming place. I encourage pool swimmers to try out open water and look beyond the black line!
I still swim in the pool as well. During my pool workouts, I train for tough ocean conditions, and when I have to swim against the current!
I swim with a Garmin watch and the MySwimPro app on my Android. It’s really helpful to see the data behind my open water swims, instead of just going off of my feel for the water. With MySwimPro, I can see my distance, pace and heart rate, not just my total time.
Swimming has always been a part of me. I am proof that even if you reach the bottom, you can always spring back up.
Sometimes, our fears and doubts can feel as big as the ocean. It only takes the will to walk to the shoreline, look at the horizon and tell yourself “I got this.”