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Summer is coming quickly. Make this the summer to conquer fear of water and learn how the water works. Swimming comes naturally.
A Message From Kathleen Wilson
My Path to Miracle Swimming
Sometimes we are lucky enough in life to find something that brings us great joy, what we commonly refer to as a passion. If we are able to make it our life’s work, that is extraordinary.
I have had the remarkable luck to find two such passions in my life.
By education, I am a classically trained musician holding both a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in harp performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. I have been the principal harpist with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra since 1987 and the Charleston area’s go-to harpist for countless celebrations. It is an amazing feeling to sit in a symphony orchestra and not simply hear the music but feel it resonate through my body during a performance while performing the greatest works ever created by the human mind.
I have been drawn to the water since a very early age and and grew to love it far more than ordinary land. I grew up swimming competitively and as I continued training and competing into adulthood, I found myself gravitating towards a little known branch of my sport- marathon swimming. My strength was not in a traditional swimming pool with traditional pool events but out in the open ocean, sometimes swimming all night but always taking me to new places and opening new worlds to me as I swam and continue to swim great distances in many different circumstances.
The water has been an ever-stabilizing influence in my life through highs and lows. Upon learning about Miracle Swimming, it touched me deeply and if trained as an instructor, I would be able to spend time in the place that makes me very happy, the water. I would also have the ability to work with adults who found the water a terrifying place and have a front row seat as these students overcome fear, conquering it and turning it into a memory while opening a new personal life chapter for each one.
How can someone who swims all night in the open ocean with its hazards know anything about a fear of water?
That’s a very fair question and I’m happy to answer it.
I understand fear from every aspect of life. I recognize it; I understand the mind racing that accompanies fear or the sweaty palms and sense of dread at having to perform a task that is terrifying. Years of musical performance in front of thousands of patrons, each watching every move that I make creates its own sense of fear and anxiety. I understand the fear of losing a job and wondering what will come next. I understand the crippling nature of fear and how it robs a person of common sense. Fear isn’t fun.
That brings us to the present day in which I am still a performing musician. I continue my service as a city of Charleston councilmember. I train each weekday morning, beginning at 5:45 a.m. and the world’s greatest swims continue to beckon as I choose where to swim next.
Miracle Swimming has given me the opportunity to give of my experiences. It is an opportunity to back down from the rigors of life for a few days to serve as your guide for your own personal and amazing journey as your conquer fear of the water and embrace an exciting and new chapter of your own lives as swimmers.
A list of Kathleen's major swims:
Swim Around Key West
Manhattan Island Marathon swim
Tampa Bay, FL
Catalina Channel, CA
Lake Zurich, Switzerland
Long Island Sound, NY
Santa Barbara Channel, CA
Strait of Gibraltar
Circumnavigation of Charleston Harbor (I-526 to I-526)
Molokai Channel, HI
Hwy, 41 bridge to I-526, Ashley River, Charleston
Red River swim, Grand Forks, ND 36 miles