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Ironman swim : encouragement’s finest hour

I’m fortunate to live in one of the select cities that hosts an Ironman competition every single year.

I’m even more fortunate to have successfully completed an Ironman myself, just two years ago.

Well, it’s Ironman day again and you’ll always find me down at the beach watching the last swimmers fight their way in to the shore. It’s my favorite part of Ironman day: the swim finish. When nearly all the athletes have completed their 2.5 mile swim and only a few remain, trying to make the 2 hour and 20 minute time cutoff. One second short and their Ironman journey comes to an end at the edge of the sand.

ironman swim finish

In the effort to get every last possible swimmer out of the water in time all the kayaks, paddleboards, boats and volunteers funnel in to make a narrow channel.

Using their paddles they make a pulling current in an effort to get those last swimmers in. Volunteers waist deep in the water ready to assist, volunteers and spectators begin cheering, screaming encouragement to the remaining swimmers in the water. The music blares as voices rise, you can see and feel the frenetic energy behind every spectator wanting them to make it in time. Praying that their Ironman day will not be cut short here, at the very start.

I absolutely love it. An enormous crowd of people cheering for one single swimmer. Encouraging them to dig in and find their best. To finish strong and well.

It’s encouragement at its absolute finest hour. For me, the Ironman swim finish are some of the most powerful minutes of Ironman day.

I wonder what it would be like if we lived that way in our everyday lives. If we screamed encouragement at the top of our lungs, desiring the best for each and every one of us: friend, acquaintance, stranger. Leaving everything behind, putting everything aside to pray and wish and scream and cheer for one another to succeed. To make the cut.

To have the chance to run our race.

I wonder what it would be like if we could find our fullness, find our best, in encouraging others to find their best.

Let’s be those people. Let’s be the crowd of cheering spectators, the volunteers, the kayaks, the music. I wonder if we could be that.

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