The straw that broke the camel’s back

I have a saying, “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

I usually give this advice to friends when they can’t decide how to solve a relationship problem but it applies just as much to this blog.

I love writing blogs because they allow me to process information in a way that I can never seem to in my mind. Usually my writing flows easily but today’s blog is a challenge. I’ve been sitting at my computer for two hours and am now on the 13th version with nothing coherent written. After hitting my head against the desk for a few minutes, I decided to take my own advice and just write down the truth of what I’m thinking and feeling.

In short, I’m upset.

Earlier this month I organised the King Wolf Swim, a 5km point-to-point swim from Kingston to Wolfe Island in Ontario, Canada. I spent a year planning the event solo. I poured my heart and soul into it. This might sound cocky but I expected the swim to go well. I put a lot of effort into it and I trust my abilities.
For the most part, the event did go well. But immediately after I exited the water, a swimmer came up to me with criticisms. Her points were valid and I know that suggestions will make the swim stronger in future years. But her comments broke my heart.

I spent so long organising the swim and gave so much of myself to it that her criticisms felt like a personal attack. Some of the mistakes she mentioned are things that I couldn’t possibly have known as a first time race director but others are points about which I should have known better.

Her comments replayed in my head for hours.

I received more criticisms and suggestions in the days following the swim. I took note of them and forced myself not to take it personally.

But planning the event had been a huge drain on me (as I describe in detail in my article ‘Confessions of a First Time Race Director’ in the H2Open October/November issue). With each suggestion that came in, I felt a little more weight on my shoulders. Eventually, two weeks after the event, I dotted the final ‘i’ and crossed the last ‘t’. I thought that I could relax for a few months before starting to plan the 2016 swim.

This afternoon, however, one final volunteer sent her criticisms and suggestions. It was the straw the broke the camel’s back. I broke down, crying.

It is with this mindset that I began writing the blog. Fortunately, telling the truth has done its job; I can now look at the situation clearly. I am sad and I am mad at myself for screwing up. But I held a safe and mostly awesome event. The suggestions will make it even better next year. In the meantime, I must remember what my father told me in high school – we’re only human; sometimes we make mistakes.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.